Institute Speaker/Panelist Bio

Deborah Riley Draper

Writer/Director

Deborah Riley Draper is an award-winning filmmaker, storyteller and two-time NAACP Image Award nominee. Deborah brings a unique perspective to her work forged from her breakthrough ad campaigns as an executive with BBDO and Ogilvy and her cultural curiosity as a filmmaker. Draper is set to direct her 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, tells the untold story of 18 African Americans who defied Hitler and Jim Crow to compete in the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympic Games. Olympic Pride is a 2017 NAACP Image Awards Nominee for Outstanding Documentary Film and the book of the same name is a 2021 Outstanding Literary nominee. Draper was one of only 3 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 in 2012. Versailles ’73 appeared at festivals and fashion weeks around the world. The film premiered on Logo TV in September 2015. MOMA, SCAD, Guggenheim Bilboa and the de Young Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco and many other museums integrated the film with their major fashion exhibitions. Fox Searchlight has optioned the feature film rights. Deborah is a TEDx speaker, the Atlanta chapter lead for the women’s advocacy group Film Fatales and alum/mentor for Facebook Seen Initiative. Deborah has served as a jury member of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival and a board member for the Bronzelens Film Festival. The FSU alum recently completed the inaugural cohort of the Georgetown University Law Center Execution Certificate Program in Arts and Cultural Heritage.

FILMOGRAPHY:
• A Force of Beauty (an audible original), Co-Writer, February 15, 2021
• Twenty Pearls, Writer/Director, Winter 2021
• Unnamed TV documentary (1921 Tulsa Massacre), Director, May 31, 2021
• Ain’t I a Woman, Archival Producer, 2021
• Illegal Rose, Writer/Director, 2019
• The Bill, Executive Producer, 2017
• Olympic Pride, American Prejudice, Writer/Director, 2016
• Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution, Writer/Director, 2012

OTHER EXPERIENCE:
• AVA , Directing Shadow (Dir: Tate Taylor, 2018)
• Hap and Leonard, Directing Shadow (Dir: Abe Sylvia, 2017)
• Ma , Directing Shadow (Dir: Tate Taylor, 2017)
• Sundance New Frontier Lab Alumni, 2017

IF SHE CAN SEE IT, SHE CAN BE IT