Award-winning filmmaker Dawn Porter has emerged in the entertainment industry as a leader in the art of storytelling; directing and producing critically acclaimed projects that have impacted generations of people from all walks of life.
In 2021, Porter directed and executive produced the Apple TV+ mental health documentary series The Me You Can’t See alongside Oprah and Prince Harry. The 6-part series featured a variety of high-profile guests including Lady Gaga and Glenn Close, while illuminating stories from across the globe and giving viewers the opportunity to seek truth, understanding, and newfound hope for the future.
Porter’s short film Bree Wayy: Promise Witness Remembrance (MTV Documentary Films), which looks at how the art world responded to the death of Breonna Taylor by using art not only as a form of protest, but as a space to heal, was also released in 2021, as was Rise Again: Tulsa and the Red Summer (National Geographic), which was directed by Porter, and sheds new light on a century-old period of intense racial conflict — and comes one hundred years after the two-day Tulsa Massacre in 1921 that led to the murder of hundreds of Black people and left thousands homeless and displaced. The two-hour special broadcast globally in 72 countries and 43 languages on Hulu and is nominated for a 2022 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Directing in a Documentary.
In 2020, Porter directed two Emmy® Award-nominated documentaries: The Way I See It (Focus Features) which is a look into two American presidencies, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama, from the lens of official White House photographer Pete Souza, and John Lewis: Good Trouble (CNN, Magnolia Pictures), the story of the congressman and civil rights icon. Porter received Mill Valley Film Festival’s prestigious 2020 Mind the Gap Award for Documentarian of the Year and was awarded the 2020 Marlon Riggs Award at The San Francisco Bay Area Film Critics Circle Awards. In addition, both documentaries received a slew of Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards nominations, with wins for Best Political Documentary (John Lewis: Good Trouble) & Best Score (The Way I See It), along with a Best Documentary (The Way I See It) win at the New York Film Critics Online Awards. Most recently, John Lewis: Good Trouble won the 2021 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Documentary (Film).
As a two-time Sundance film festival director, Porter discovered her passion for filmmaking following her time as an attorney. She made her feature directorial debut in 2013 with Gideon's Army, which premiered on HBO, was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and an Emmy, won Best Editing at Sundance, and is now part of the U.S. Department of State’s American Film Showcase. Her 2016 film Trapped, which explores laws regulating abortion clinics in the South, won the Special Jury Social-Impact Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, and a Peabody Award. Additional directing credits for Porter include Netflix’s 2018 four-part series Bobby Kennedy for President, PBS’ Spies of Mississippi, and The Discovery Channel’s Rise: The Promise of My Brother’s Keeper.
Up next, Porter is working on a documentary feature for MGM, highlighting the return of Cirque du Soleil after the Montreal-based entertainment company was shuttered during the global coronavirus crisis. In addition, Porter is directing “Fifty/50,” a multi-part feature for ESPN about Title IX’s impact on women in sports, a documentary series for Showtime Networks about the United States Supreme Court and a 6 part series on the continuation of the historic civil rights documentary series Eyes on the Prize for HBO.
When she isn’t working behind the camera, Porter frequently lectures at universities across the nation, a passion she honed during her time as professor and Head of the Documentary Program at the prestigious UC Berkeley School of Journalism. Porter currently resides in New York City with her family.