Winner 2004

Beah: A Black Woman Speaks

A Clinica Estetico and LisaGay Inc., in association with HBO

In this tribute to Beah Richards—amazing actress, writer, director, poet, teacher, musician, and activist—LisaGay Hamilton takes us on a journey through Richards’ life and times. At eighty and in her final years, Richards uses this documentary to solidify her legacy and challenge those who come after her. Using her life and words from this piece as a stepping-stone, HBO/Cinemax Documentary Films also created an Activity Guide to be used in high schools, colleges, or with community groups. The guide provides viewers an opportunity to reflect not only on Richards’ inspirational life, but also on art, identity, heritage, and activism in their own lives. The frankness with which Richards explains her difficulties while making a name for herself as a black woman in Hollywood as well as her role in the civil rights movement is refreshing, moving, and informative. Hamilton, also an actress, supplements Richards’ direct, intense address of the camera with movie and performance clips, audiotapes, photo stills, and testimonies from friends and family. In addition to the intriguing biographical information, we see a critical sub-plot: the life lessons Richards is handing to her interviewer, an informal torch-passing of sorts. Writer/director/producer LisaGay Hamilton worked with the assistance of producers Neva Armian, Jonathan Demme, Joe Viola, and Lisa Heller and videographer Sovonto Green. HBO’s Sheila Nevins served as executive producer. For painting a luminous portrait of a fascinating and passionate woman, Beah: A Black Woman Speaks receives a Peabody Award.