Traveling while black

About RRW

“Every Film is Personal”

Roger Ross Williams

About Roger Ross Williams

Roger Ross Williams is an Oscar, Emmy and Peabody award-winning director, producer, writer, and the first African-American director to win an Academy Award ® with his short film MUSIC BY PRUDENCE.

Williams’ award-winning work pushes the boundaries of culture and film. In 2021 Williams was named an Indiewire Influencer for “changing the face of documentary film.”

“Beautiful,” “Uplifting,” “Extraordinary,” “Triumphant,” “Rich with insight,” “Searing,” “Remarkable,” and “Inspirational” are accolades Williams’ films have received from the New York Times, Vanity Fair, Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Forbes and Entertainment Weekly.

Williams has received the Career Achievement Award from the International Documentary Association, The Woodstock Film Festival Maverick Award, The NYU Alumni Achievement Award, and an honorary doctorate from Lafayette College.

Gael Garcia Bernal and Perla De La Rosa in Cassandro


Film work

Williams documentaries include: LIFE, ANIMATED, which won the Sundance Film Festival Directing Award, three Emmys in 2018, and was nominated for an Academy Award®; GOD LOVES UGANDA, which was shortlisted for an Academy Award®; Emmy-nominated and Webby-winning VR experience TRAVELING WHILE BLACK; and THE APOLLO which won a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Documentary.

2023 is a big year, with many projects premiering. Williams directed and produced (under his One Story Up banner), Ibram X. Kendi STAMPED FROM THE BEGINNING (2023) for Netflix; THE 1619 PROJECT (2023), a limited series with the New York Times, Lionsgate, Disney/ABC, and Harpo Productions for Hulu; THE SUPERMODELS (2023) about the original supermodels, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista for Apple+.

In collaboration with Motto Pictures, Williams created LOVE TO LOVE YOU, DONNA SUMMER (2023), co-directed by Roger Ross Williams and Summer’s daughter, Brooklyn Sudano. The feature doc is made for HBO/HBOMAX.

Williams released his first scripted feature CASSANDRO at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. The film is about an openly gay, cross-dressing Lucha Libre wrestler starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Bad Bunny. CASSANDRO screened in select U.S. theaters and is currently streaming globally on Prime Video.

The 1619 Project

One Story Up

Williams’ production company, One Story Up, creates documentary films, series, specials, animation and VR.

Their projects include THE INNOCENCE FILES, the acclaimed food series HIGH ON THE HOG and the feature documentary CIVIL about civil rights lawyer Ben Crump for Netflix.

They produced a screen adaptation of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ bestseller, BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME, and the SXSW Grand Jury Prize-winning film MASTER OF LIGHT all for HBO/HBOMAX. They are in post-production on THE EMPIRE OF EBONY, a documentary series about the groundbreaking Black magazines Ebony and Jet.

Williams also hosts a short film series featuring the work of BIPOC filmmakers for Topic and First Look Media.

In 2022 Deadline named Williams to its coveted “Disruptor” list, declaring “Roger Ross Williams’ One Story Up Is A Powerhouse Production Company Giving Hope To BIPOC Talent.”