London Film Academy

Spotlighting Janicza Bravo #WomenWednesdays

15 September 2021

Janicza Bravo, the female American director who helmed this summer's hottest release, 'Zola'! Next up on #WomenWednesdays we're highlighting the life and work of this fantastic talent. 

Image credits: © Yana Yatsuk

Hailing from New York, Bravo made her directorial debut with the VICE-distributed short 'Eat' in 2011, which was the beginning of a critically-acclaimed career spanning a decade. Her credits include her debut feature ‘Lemon’, starring Michael Cera, and she also directed episodes of ‘Atlanta’ and ‘Dear White People’. 'Zola' is her most recent offering; a comedy-horror based on a viral Twitter thread written by A’Ziah “Zola” King in 2015.

Image credits: © Getty/A24 

Bravo co-wrote the script, which is innovative in its adaptation of an online social media thread, and was selected by A24 to direct the film as her sophomore feature. Speaking about what attracted her to adapting the 148-tweet-thread, Bravo said:  

I had this very visual experience of reading it. [I envisioned] mostly empty rooms. I could see the light and I could feel wall-to-wall carpet. And as I read through [Zola’s] thread, I was seeing a lot of these spaces that had a good deal of history that sometimes was really pleasurable, and other times was really unpleasant. It vacillated between great joy and great terror all at once.

Janicza Bravo

‘Zola’ has received shining reviews from critics, with The Guardian calling it an ‘icily slick and funny Florida urban thriller’, and Empire praising the ‘style and intrigue’ that Bravo creates in this cross-genre production.  

Image credits: © Stefania Rosini

Bravo received training in directing and designing for theatre in New York as a young woman, before moving to Los Angeles to launch her filmmaking career. Having not gone to film school, Bravo explains how she created her own film education by pushing herself to write and make as many short films as possible, and teach herself how to work in the screen industries. Talking about her first steps in the film world, Bravo said: 

I had found the filmmaking space somewhat intimidating, not because I was uncomfortable with not knowing, it’s more how people treated you when you didn’t know. I’m totally fine with not knowing, I actually feel very safe in saying that I don’t know, because I want to learn. I’ve found, at least for myself, when I’ve said ‘I don’t know’ in that environment, that people have taken that as an opportunity to pounce.

Janicza Bravo

Image credits: © Charles Prince King 

Despite ‘not-knowing’, Bravo has carved a vibrant and pioneering filmmaking career for herself over the last decade, and we can’t wait to see what she does next!  

Have you had chance to catch #Zola at the cinema yet? What are your thoughts? Let us know on social media, and catch us next week for another #WomenWednesdays blog post! 

Do you have a favourite female filmmaker, past or present, who you would like us to spotlight in the future? Let us know by contacting marketing@londonfilmacademy.com, or messaging us on social media!  


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