In a year of heightened emotions, Melina Matsoukas helmed some of the year’s most impactful, challenging messages. Our jury felt that this in-demand director had her finger on the pulse of 2020, with her work reflecting seismic societal shifts, popular culture and the fear and confusion of the pandemic.
Matsoukas concepted, co-wrote and directed Beats’ “Do you love me?” The poetic piece, questioning whether the rest of the world loves Black people as much as it loves Black culture, moved the conversation about Blackness past the imagery of anger and protest that followed the murder of George Floyd.
Her moving tribute to Kobe Bryant for Nike, voiced by Kendrick Lamar, singled out the late National Basketball Association giant’s dedication to his family and the empowerment of Black women. And in Amazon’s Christmas spot, featuring the pandemic-dashed hopes of an aspiring ballet dancer, she brought beautiful, nuanced storytelling and an uplifting message of hope to what could have been a straightforward product ad.