News & Current Affairs

Legendary Black Filmmaker and Cinematographer Jessie Maple Passes Away at Age 76

By Azeezat Okunlola | Jun 3, 2023
Cinematographer and director Jessie Maple, who broke barriers for black women in Hollywood, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 76 in Atlanta. 
In a statement posted to Twitter on Wednesday, the Black Film Centre and Archive confirmed the news, writing that she "passed away peacefully, surrounded by family."
The announcement went on to say that her legacy would live on through her "films, books, and unapologetic push to highlight discrimination and injustices within the news and entertainment industries."
It added that “the world through Jessie’s lens offers views of humanity that are often overlooked due to race and power dynamics.”
By releasing "Will" in 1981, Maple became the first Black woman to create and produce a full-length film in the post-civil rights era. 
Furthermore, in the 1970s, she made history by becoming the first Black woman to join the International Photographers of Motion Picture & Television Union
After graduating from Louisiana State University with a degree in bacteriology and serology in 1947, Maple took a job as the lab's director before making the transition to journalism with the New York Courier.
For years, Maple worked as a broadcast camerawoman after becoming the first Black woman to be accepted into the New York camera operators union. Eventually, she decided to go it alone and release "Will." The movie centers on a girl's basketball coach who is battling heroin addiction.
Later, Maple would go on to helm "Twice as Nice," a film about identical twins who play basketball.  
Her husband, Leroy Patton, daughter Audrey Snipes, grandson Nigel Snipes, five sisters, two adopted daughters, and a large number of nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends are among many who will miss Maple.



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