An Evening with Director Bill Duke

A Tribute to Director Bill Duke

February 23, 2010 An African American Steering Committee Event

On February 23, 2010, the African American Steering Committee (AASC) presented a special evening in honor of Director Bill Duke, celebrating his long career as a director, an actor and a humanitarian.

Following a reception in the Guild Los Angeles atrium, the evening moved into DGA Theatre One. DGA First Vice President Paris Barclay kicked things off with a welcome message that introduced a screening of retrospective clips from Duke’s film and television work edited by AASC Activities & Events Chair Abdul Malik Abbott. After remarks by AASC Co-Chairs Van Hayden, Carl Weathers and Oz Scott, the evening cast a spotlight on Duke via a long list of special guest speakers.

There were those who spoke of working with Duke in his capacity as director including actors Laurence Fishburne (Hoodlum and Deep Cover); Roger Guenveur Smith and Aunjanue Ellis (Cover); Michael DeLorenzo (New York Undercover); Taraji P. Henson and Wood Harris (Not Easily Broken) and Producer David Jacobs (Dallas and Knots Landing). There were also testimonials from others who’d worked with Duke during his time as an actor such as Director John McTiernan (Predator) and actor Garrett Morris (Car Wash); and additional tributes from fellow DGA director-members LeVar Burton, Donald Petrie and John Singleton.

The man of the evening then took the stage for a reunion with Director Michael Shultz who had worked with him in the seminal film Car Wash, and was serving this evening as the moderator of a conversation about Duke’s career. There was much for the two to discuss because in addition to acting and directing, Duke’s career includes the worlds of publishing with titles such as Black Light: The African American Hero and activism via non-profit and charity organizations such as Educating Young Minds, an after school program that helps inner-city students excel at school and in life.

Duke has also served as the Time Warner Endowed Chair in the Department of Radio Television and Film at Howard University, as one of former President Bill Clinton’s appointees to the National Endowment of the Humanities, and as one of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s appointees to the California State Film Commission Board.

Currently, Duke serves on the Board of Trustees at the American Film Institute, continues to work in the industry, producing and directing independent projects and content for multiple platforms that emphasize cultural history and family values, and others that focus on the impact of AIDS and HIV in minority communities such as the documentary The Faces of HIV, which he executive produced, and exploring that territory in his 2007 feature film Cover. He will soon be launching a series of documentaries dealing with foster care, the juvenile detention system, and the dysfunctions of the educational system in the USA. Mr. Duke has been a member of the DGA since 1981.

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