Black News, Entertainment, Style and Culture - HuffPost Black Voices
iOS app Android app More
October 7, 2015

Why You Shouldn't Forgive Geris Hilton

I think it's so important to recognize that what you do online can impact you offline. Gerod and his friends lost their jobs for what they call "trolling" online. They can claim not to be racist all day long, but the proof is in the pudding.

Powerful Photo Series Shows Mental Illness Doesn't Discriminate

Dior Vargas
Dior Vargas

12-Year-Old Quvenzhané Wallis Adds 'Author' To List Of Accomplishments

Athena Image
Jeff Kravitz via Getty Images

Ava Duvernay On Why We Can't Write Off Criticism Of That 'Suffragette' Shoot

Suffragette Carey Mulligan Meryl Streep Mary Rozzi
Mary Rozzi

Upcoming Doc Seeks To Expose Truth In Michael Brown Case

Robert Cohenpost Dispatchnosalemichael Brownpoliceferguson Policefriendly Temple Missionary Baptist Churchbaptist Church

Most Men Don't Care About Diversity In The Boardroom

Diversity In The Boardroom

Nicki Minaj Explains Her Miley Cyrus Call-Out At The VMAs

Athena Image
Christopher Polk/MTV1415 via Getty Images

Keke Palmer Isn't Offended By Racial Stereotypes On 'Scream Queens'

Athena Image
Jon Kopaloff via Getty Images

Trans Black Woman Attacked, Killed By Group Of Men In Pennsylvania

Kiesha Jenkins

Sandra Bullock Shares Concerns For Raising Black Son

Celebritiesvenice Film Festival 201370th Venice Film Festivalvenice Film Festival
Jacopo Raule via Getty Images

Officer Fired After Tasing Suspect Who Wasn't Resisting

Tim Claussen

Kanye West Thinks He Is Discriminated Against For Not Being Gay

Athena Image
Dominique Charriau via Getty Images

Jimmy Carter Mediating Dispute Between Martin Luther King Jr.'s Heirs

Athena Image
The Washington Post via Getty Images

Women Kicked Off Train For #LaughingWhileBlack Share An Important Lesson On Racial Bias

The Real

Photos Stage A Corporate Life Where Black Women Can Be Themselves

Endia Beal
Endia Beal

Latinos Break The Mold

Latinos Break The Mold
Damon Dahlen

Meet The Woman Who Helped Queer Women Of Color Gain Visibility In The 1970s

Jean Wimberly
Jean Wimberly

New Documentary 'Am I?' Explores What It Means To Be African And American

Am I First Documentary Issa Rae
Nadia Marie

The Worst Cities For Black Americans

Athena Image
David Joyner via Getty Images

Mom Slams Textbook's Incredibly Offensive Definition Of 'Slavery' In Viral Facebook Post


Racial Biases Of Police A Focus As Thabo Sefolosha's Trial Begins

Athena Image
Craig Ruttle/AP

18 Real Things Republicans Have Said About Abortion And Planned Parenthood


Why Black Americans Are Worried About John Boehner’s Resignation

Athena Image

Bill Aimed At Curbing Racial Profiling Signed Into Law In California

Athena Image
SAUL LOEB via Getty Images

Cop Complains After 'BlackLivesMatter' Put On Coffee Cup

Athena Image
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Reclaiming The Word 'Slut' Is An Entirely Different Beast For Black Women

Athena Image
Paul Archuleta via Getty Images
Global Black Voices

Global Poverty Will Hit New Low This Year, World Bank Says

Athena Image

T.I. Takes On Black Lives Matter Movement In Spoken Poem

Ti Black Lives Matter
TV One

Childish Gambino Blew Us Away With His Cover Of This Classic R&B Hit

Tim Mosenfelder via Getty Images

Black Lives Matter Holds Peaceful Protest At Twin Cities Marathon

Athena Image

Why This 'Suffragette' Photoshoot Needs To Be Called Out

Suffragette Carey Mulligan Meryl Streep Mary Rozzi
Mary Rozzi

Grace Lee Boggs, Legendary Activist, Dies At 100

Celebritiesfilmfestivalentertainment Eventlaff 201
Amanda Edwards via Getty Images

Tupac Shakur's Emotional 1995 Letter From Prison Is Up For Sale

Artnet News
artnet News

Afrofuturist Photos Transform Senegal's Trash Into Haute Couture

Fabrice Monteiro
Fabrice Monteiro

CeCe McDonald Reflects On Life And Activism Since Her Release From Prison

Cosmo Declares The Kardashians 'America's First Family'


A Wife's Biggest Question For Her Gay Husband

Iyanla Fix My Life Pastor Gay Wife Husband Tiffany

19 Creative Racebent Halloween Costumes That Aren't Offensive


What Went Down When 4 Black Women Were Denied At A Nightclub

Uk Nightclub

Ben Carson Is The Smartest Guy In The Room. And The Weirdest.

Athena Image

23 Black Actors Who Voiced Your Favorite Cartoon Characters

Rihanna Home Movie Dreamworks


    1. HuffPost
    2. Black Voices
    1. HuffPost
    2. Black Voices
    1. HuffPost
    2. Black Voices
    3. View all RSS feeds

Fetty Wap Tops U.S. Album Chart With Self-Titled Debut

Athena Image
Robb D. Cohen/Invision/AP

Stevie Wonder Finalizes Divorce From Second Wife

Couple Fashion Fashion Parties Fashion New York Fashion Shows Parties Other Parties
Jemal Countess via Getty Images

Fox Developing Racially-Charged Police Shooting Project From ‘Love & Basketball’ Team

Athena Image
Jon Kopaloff via Getty Images

19 Of Fox News' Most Ridiculous Moments

Athena Image
Carlo Allegri/Invision/AP

Tamar Braxton On Loving And Letting Go On New Album

Athena Image
David Livingston via Getty Images

Grace Jones Accuses Kanye West Of 'Ripping Off' Her Images

Athena Image
Dave J Hogan via Getty Images

These Offensive Halloween Costumes Are Frighteningly Ignorant

Halloween Costume
Last Night of Freedom

Wendy Williams: I Would Be Happy To See Terrence Howard Exit 'Empire'

Wendy Williams Empire

Tracy Morgan Joins Lineup For Salute To Eddie Murphy

Johnny Nunez via Getty Images

F. Gary Gray Likely To Direct 'Fast & Furious 8'

Athena Image
JB Lacroix via Getty Images

'Castle's Tamala Jones Producing Tammi Terrell Biopic

Athena Image
Gregg DeGuire via Getty Images

Rihanna Opens Up About Getting Back Together With Chris Brown In 2012

Annie Leibovitz exclusively for Vanity Fair

Toddler Gets Why We Need Planned Parenthood Better Than Some Adults

Staceyann Chin Planned Parenthood

Steph Curry Is Back And More Amazing Than Ever

Steph Curry

The First 2 Thoughts Oprah Has Each Morning

Oprah Winfrey Belief

Will Smith Announces New World Tour With DJ Jazzy Jeff

Will Smith In The Studio With Beats 1 Radio
Beats 1 Radio

CC Sabathia Checks Himself Into Alcohol Rehab Center

Athena Image
Al Bello via Getty Images

50 Cent Gives Offensive Explanation For 'Empire' Ratings Dip

Athena Image
Dimitrios Kambouris via Getty Images

Jesse Williams Dispels The 'Angry' Black Person Stereotype

Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

The Most Name-Dropped Fashion Designers In Hip Hop

Fashion Hip Hop

Stephen A. Smith To KD: 'You Do Not Want To Make An Enemy Out Of Me'

Bill McCay via Getty Images

Amber Rose Delivers Impassioned Speech About The First Time She Was Slut-Shamed

Athena Image
David Livingston via Getty Images

'Selma' Director Ava DuVernay To Head Mumbai Jury

Athena Image
Michael Tran via Getty Images

How 'Trap Queen' Turned Fetty Wap Into One Of The Biggest Stars Of The Year

Athena Image
Jeff Kravitz via Getty Images

Spike Lee Named New York City Marathon Grand Marshal

Athena Image
The Times via Getty Images

This Book Is Creating A Space For Queer Black Boys In Children's Literature

Kendrick Daye

And Now 'Lethal Weapon' May Be Getting A TV Series

Athena Image

Denzel Washington On The Important Life Lesson He'll Never Forget

Denzel Washington Boys

5 Beauty Subscription Boxes Made Especially For Women Of Color

Onyx Beauty Subscription Box Onyx

OK, America, Here's A How-To Video On How To Not Murder Someone

How To Not Murder
Daniel Koren

The Festival Of Praise Fall Tour 2015 Is Coming To A City Near You

Festival Of Praise Fall Tour
Face To Face, Inc.

Mom's Viral Breastfeeding Selfie Sends A Strong Message

Jennifer Taylor
Jennifer Taylor

Janet Jackson Postpones Las Vegas Tour Date To Rest Vocal Cords

Athena Image
Alexander Tamargo via Getty Images

Tamar Braxton Brings More Than Good Vocals To New Album, 'Calling All Lovers'

Athena Image
JC Olivera via Getty Images

Anthony Anderson Hooked Amber Rose Up With A Role On 'Black-ish'

Athena Image
C Flanigan via Getty Images

'Empire' Drama: Taraji P. Henson And Terrence Howard Clash On Set

Athena Image
FOX via Getty Images

LeBron James Speaks Out After Local Child’s Accidental Drive-By Death

Athena Image
Paul Sancya/AP

Snoop Dogg Goes Off On Steelers Player Like Only Snoop Dogg Can


Soap Star's Pattern Of Forming Unhealthy Bonds Began In Preschool

Debbi Morgan Where Are They Now Oprah Where Are Th

How Olivia Pope's Closet Sometimes Gets In Kerry Washington's Way

Athena Image
Josiah Kamau via Getty Images


A graduate of Princeton University and New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, Shelton credits Bill Cosby, Spike Lee and Paris Barclay, among others, for teaching her the ropes in the industry. recently caught up with the highly creative writer-director, who spoke about how she landed an internship working on the monumental film 'Do the Right Thing,' the first time she met Bernie Mac and where she was when she found out she was nominated for an Emmy. Congrats on your recent NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Directing in a Dramatic Series for 'Men of a Certain Age.' Your work has been recognized by the NAACP before. What are some of your fondest memories of working with the late Bernie Mac?
Millicent Shelton: Bernie was a great guy. The first time that I met Bernie, before I started directing an episode, I walked into his office and said, "Hi, I'm Millicent Shelton, and I'm directing the next episode." And he said, "Who are you?" And I said, "I'm directing the next episode." And he said, "Says who?" [laughs]. And I said, "The producers" [laughs]. And he goes, "No one talked to me." And he goes, "What have you done?" And I told him. At the time I had mostly done music videos and one feature film. And he goes, "Don't like music videos." And then he said, "Where are you from?" And I said, "St. Louis." And he goes, "I'm from Chicago. I don't know if I like people from St. Louis."

Throughout the whole episode -- it was an episode featuring Anthony Anderson -- the two of them would just rip on me. Anything that had to do with a joke, Millicent was a part of the joke. At the very last day of shooting, at wrap, Bernie came up to me and said, "I like you. You have thick skin." And then he hired me again. Bernie was a great guy. It was a tremendous loss. He was a caring guy and I loved working with him. When he found out I was pregnant and he saw me, he said, "I gotta see those babies when you have them." And I literally had the kids about four months before he passed away. Bernie didn't forget you. He's one of a kind.

BV: In 2009, you received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for directing an episode of '30 Rock,' making you the first African American woman to receive a nomination for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series. Where were you when you found out you were nominated?
MS: When I found out, I was doing 'Ruby and the Rockits,' a multi-camera show for ABC Family. I was in my car driving and playing 'I Got a Feeling' and singing really loud. And I get at the studio and get out the car, and the A.D. says, "Congratulations." And I said, "For what?" We walk into the stage and she pulls out this big printout for all the Emmy nominations and I look at it and I see my name, and I was like, "You've got to be kidding me." It was very shocking. I feel really honored to be nominated. I think I was in shock until the awards ceremony was over.

BV: You started off directing music videos. In 1991, you directed Salt-N-Pepa's video for 'Let's Talk About Sex.' Would you say that was one of the most important videos of your career?
MS: I do think that is one of the most important videos in my career because, at that time, the effect AIDS was having on the black community was really starting to come to the forefront. No one had really addressed it. I heard the song, came up with a concept and I talked to them about it. I told them that I think we should address safe sex and we should address AIDS. We had a really great conversation. After we shot the video, we did an AIDS campaign. We did a town hall meeting with Peter Jennings and we did an AIDS PSA. It became something that really did speak to a community and open a lot of eyes.

But there are a lot of videos that I remember fondly. I remember doing my first Aaliyah video, 'Back and Forth.' Right before we shot the video, they had the huge earthquake in L.A. A couple of days before we were supposed to shoot, R. Kelly promptly got on a plane and flew back to Chicago [laughs]. We had to find a new location. But it was fun. It was great working with Aaliyah. It was her first video. She was really young. She wore the sunglasses because she was a little shy. You're talking about another very special person; that was Aaliyah.

BV: Bill Cosby was a mentor of yours early on in your career. What did you learn from him?
I worked as a production assistant in wardrobe on 'Do the Right Thing,' and I worked as a production assistant in wardrobe on 'The Cosby Show.' The wardrobe department was right next to Mr. Cosby's office. I would go in there and talk to him. During hiatuses, I saved my money and started working on a short film. Every time I would have a little bit of it cut, I would go in and show it to him. And he would give me comments. He gave me really harsh constructive criticism, but it was great.

He was good in helping me find who I was as a director and sort of letting me see what a director needs to be. When he looked at my films the first time, he gave me really straightforward criticism. He made me make decisions. That's a big thing for a director to learn.

BV: How was it working on 'Do the Right Thing'?
: I was greener than green. I was before green [laughs]. When I got to 'Do the Right Thing,' I had just graduated from college. I had no idea how I was going to get into the entertainment industry and I had no inroads.

Spike's brother David had gone to school with one of my older sisters. And my sister called and said, "David's brother is doing a movie." So Spike was known as David's brother [laughs]. I sent a cover letter off to Spike, and when I graduated and got back to St. Louis, I put a call into the office, and they put Spike on the telephone and he said he wanted to meet me. Luckily, one of my graduation gifts was a trip to Puerto Rico and I had a layover in New York. So, during the layover, I went down to Brooklyn and had a meeting with Spike. At that point, I think I had been offered a job in D.C. for something like $200 a week. Spike offered me an internship on 'Do the Right Thing,' and he said, "If you take that job in D.C., it's going to be the biggest mistake of your life." So I said, "When do you need me back here." He said, "Two days." I went back to St. Louis and told my parents I was going to work on 'Do the Right Thing,' and I was going to live in New York, and I was leaving in two days. It was an amazing experience.

I was walking down the street with Ossie Davis on one of the first shooting days. Halfway down the block he was just Ossie Davis, and then the other halfway he changed into Da Man, his character in the film. His posture. Everything changed. I had never been exposed to an actor that great before.

I don't think people give Spike as much credit as he deserves. One of the things that he was insistent upon was making sure that he had people of color in his crew. That little bit of effort is all it takes to open a way for a lot of people to get their foot in the door and make their own way.

BV: Speaking of women in the industry, there aren't too many women directors in Hollywood, especially black women, relatively speaking -- Gina Prince Bythewood is one, Debbie Allen, Julie Dash, Kasi Lemmons. Do you feel that you have had some obstacles to overcome in your career, and if so, how did you overcome them?
: I never really had obstacles to overcome in my career. My first film did not turn out well, and I was put in director jail. It was a really difficult time, but in retrospect, it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. It made me really commit to being a director and making it work. I made a choice to go into television. I shadowed an African American director, Paris Barclay, who has won two Emmys. I hung out on TV sets with him and learned the craft of directing television. And another director that I followed was David Nutter. Literally, it took me three years to get my first break, which was on an episode of 'Barbershop.'

It is a boy's network, so, as a female, you sort of have to figure out where you fit in. It's challenging because it's just not set up for you. It would be easier if it was ideally just based on the quality of your work, but that's not how this industry works. There is bureaucracy behind it.

My advice for budding filmmakers would be learn your craft, know the industry, because that's one thing that got me in trouble. I really didn't know the ins and the outs. My advice for female directors is if you're not secure in your craft and in your vision, you are liable to sway, and sometimes you shouldn't. The other thing I would say is that you have to persevere. It's not going to be easy. Don't ever give up.
Tagged as: Emmy awards, EmmyAwards, film, millicent shelton, MillicentShelton, music videos, MusicVideos, NaacpImageAwards, Spike Lee, SpikeLee, women directors, WomenDirectors
Email This

Comments: (1)

Add a comment

Page 1 of 1
More on Black Voices

Follow Us

Most Commented Articles

Daily Drama

The Best Clips From TV's Hottest Shows

More Daily Drama >>



The Urban Daily

Around the Web