Award-winning filmmaker 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.
Porter has had a busy 2021, directing and executive producing the Apple TV+ mental health documentary series “The Me You Can’t See” alongside Oprah and Prince Harry. The 6-part series debuted on May 21 and featured a variety of high-profile guests including Lady Gaga and Glenn Close, while illuminating stories from across the globe and giving viewers the opportunity to seek truth, understanding, and newfound hope for the future.
Also released this year is “Rise Again: Tulsa and the Red Summer” for National Geographic. The documentary feature, directed by Porter, 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 premiered on June 18, 2021, on National Geographic and went global in over 72 countries and 43 languages on Hulu.
In 2020 Porter directed 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. 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.”
Up next, Porter is working on a documentary feature for MGM, highlighting the return of Cirque du Soleil after the Montreal-based entertainment company was shuttered during the global coronavirus crisis. In addition, Porter is also directing “Fifty/50,” a multi-part feature for ESPN about Title IX’s impact on women in sports, as well as a documentary series about the United States Supreme Court with Showtime Networks.
When she isn’t working behind the camera, Porter frequently lectures at universities across 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. Porter currently resides in New York City with her family.