projects & press.
Deborah Riley Draper is a writer, director and award-winning filmmaker. Deborah is currently directing the A&E docu-series JAMES BROWN: SAY IT LOUD, produced by Academy Award winner Ahmir Thompson and Mick Jagger. In 2021, Deborah wrote and directed two projects about seminal moments in history. Her docu-series, The Legacy of Black Wall Street on OWN/Discovery+, told the story of the pioneering community of Greenwood, airing 100 years to the day of the brutal massacre. This project earned Deborah a 2022 NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Breakthrough Creative -Television, her 3rd nomination. Deborah's Twenty Pearls, the first original documentary to be acquired by Comcast's Black Experience Channel, features Vice-President Kamala Harris and chronicles the rarely recognized history of America's first black sorority.
The Ad Council recognized Deborah as a 2021 Champion for Good. Deborah brought her creative lens to their vital COVID-19 Vaccine Education Initiative. Deborah wrote and directed two campaigns highlighting stories from descendants of the U.S. Public Health Services Syphilis Study at Tuskegee and families from rural communities around the U.S.
Deborah co-wrote "Force of Beauty," an audible memoir about three Black matriarchs in Newark released in February 2021. Draper will direct her screen adaptation of the classic coming-of-age novel Coffee Will Make You Black.
Draper is a 2016 Film Independent Lab Fellow and Variety Magazine's "2016 Top 10 Documakers to Watch." Her documentary, Olympic Pride, American Prejudice, the untold story of 18 African Americans who defied Hitler and Jim Crow at the 1936 Summer Olympic Games, was one of only three nominees for the 2017 Peace and Sport Award in Monaco, presented by HRH Prince Albert. Draper's debut film, Versailles '73: American Runway Revolution, opened New York Fashion Week and Toronto Fashion Week and premiered on Logo TV in 2015. MOMA, SCAD, Guggenheim Bilboa, and the de Young Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco have integrated the film with their major fashion exhibitions.
Draper's leadership in advertising shines in campaigns for Lamborghini, Coca-Cola classic, FedEx, and adidas. She earned two regional Emmys, a Gold Effie, and several Addy Awards.