This week's entry in our series on out lesbian and bisexual women who might be under your radar but deserve to be on it.
Who she is: award-winning independent filmmaker who has produced, directed, and/or distributed more than 20 movies
What she’s accomplished: Welbon is best known as the director-producer of the 1999 documentary Living With Pride: Ruth C. Ellis @ 100, a portrait of a black lesbian centenarian who devoted much of her life to activism. The film won 10 awards as Best Documentary, including the GLAAD Media Award and prizes from the Los Angeles and San Francisco gay and lesbian film festivals. Another high-profile project was 2003’s Sisters in Cinema, a documentary on the history of black women feature film directors, which Welbon directed and produced. Her films have screened on numerous TV networks, including PBS, Starz/Encore, TV-ONE, IFC, Bravo, the Sundance Channel, BET, HBO, and in over 100 festivals around the world. such as Toronto, Berlin, and Sundance. Her latest release is The New Black, a doc exploring African-Americans’ response to the LGBT rights movement, especially in light of the push for marriage equality. Welbon served as a producer on the film, directed by Yoruba Richen. It has screened and won awards at several festivals; more fests around the nation are showing it this month, and it will have a theatrical engagement in Los Angeles beginning November 1. Welbon is also developing a multimedia project, Sisters in the Life: 25 Years of Out African American Lesbian Media-Making (1986–2011), which will include a website, a book of essays, a documentary, an archive, and a mobile application. She has a “day job” as an assistant professor in the journalism and media studies department at Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C.
Choice quote: “Being lesbian really helps [in her film career]. If you look at feature films made by black women, over a third of them were produced by black lesbians. Part of the reason why is that the LGBT community is super-supportive, it’s an incredible infrastructure. There’s this rich festival circuit — all of this support in place for us. The industry is really incredibly sexist. Women are 51% of the population, but we are 6-7% of the filmmakers.” — Welbon in an interview with Windy City Times in March of this year