Award-winning filmmaker, producer, and mental health/social justice advocate Dawn Porter has emerged in the entertainment industry as a leader in the art of storytelling; directing and producing critically acclaimed projects that have impacted generations of people from all walks of life.
This year, Porter is set to direct and executive produce Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry’s upcoming documentary series on mental health for Apple TV+. The series, titled “The Me You Can’t See,” features discussions with a variety of high-profile guests including singer Lady Gaga, actress Glenn Close, and San Antonio Spurs’ DeMar DeRozan, among others in an attempt to destigmatize the highly misunderstood subject of mental health and empower viewers at home. The multi-part series will premiere on May 21, 2021.
Also slated for release in 2021 is Porter’s upcoming special for National Geographic, “Rise Again: Tulsa and the Red Summer.” The documentary feature sheds new light on a century-old period of intense racial conflict and comes one hundred years from the two-day Tulsa Massacre in 1921 that led to the murder of hundreds of Black people and leaving thousands homeless and displaced. The two-hour special will premiere on June 18, 2021, in over 72 countries and 43 languages. It will then be available on Hulu on June 19, 2021, to commemorate Juneteenth.
In 2020 Porter’s two poignant documentaries, “The Way I See It” (Focus Features) which is a look into two American presidencies, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama from the lens of official White House photographer Pete Souza, and “John Lewis: Good Trouble” (Magnolia Pictures), the story of the congressman and civil rights icon, received critical acclaim. Kicking off the 2021 award season, Porter received Mill Valley Film Festival’s prestigious 2020 Mind the Gap Award for Documentarian of the Year, and was awarded the 2020 Marlon Riggs Award at The San Francisco Bay Area Film Critics Circle Awards. In addition, both of her documentaries received a slew of Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards nominations, with wins for Best Political Documentary (“John Lewis: Good Trouble”) & Best Score (“The Way I See It”), along with a Best Documentary (“The Way I See It”) win at the New York Film Critics Online Awards. Most recently, “John Lewis: Good Trouble” won the 2021 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Documentary (Film).
As a two-time Sundance film festival director, Porter discovered her passion for filmmaking following her time as an attorney. She made her feature directorial debut in 2013 with “Gideon’s Army,” which premiered on HBO, was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and an Emmy, won Best Editing at Sundance, and is now part of the U.S. Department of State’s American Film Showcase. Her 2016 film “Trapped,” which explores laws regulating abortion clinics in the South, won the Special Jury Social-Impact Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, and a Peabody Award (to name a few). Additional directing credits for Porter include PBS’ “Spies of Mississippi,” The Discovery Channel’s “Rise: The Promise of My Brother’s Keeper,” and Netflix’s 2018 four-part series “Bobby Kennedy for President.”
When she isn’t working on her documentary projects, Porter frequently lectures at universities throughout the nation, a passion she honed during her time as professor and Head of the Documentary Program at the prestigious UC Berkeley School of Journalism.
She currently resides in Massachusetts with her husband and two children, Eli and Will.