Date TBD | WNET’s American Masters
How could we forget the one and only Hazel Scott? She was not only the most famous jazz virtuoso of her time, but she was the first African American to have her own television show.
This feature documentary will shine a light on this incredible talent whose voice—like the voices of so many women, especially women of color—has been lost. A child immigrant from Trinidad, Scott was a musical prodigy whose talent was equally at home playing Bach, or swinging with Art Tatum and Fats Waller in a jazz club at the height of the Harlem Renaissance. She refused to play before segregated audiences, and as a Hollywood screen siren, she spoke out against unfair treatment— she led an actors strike when a film director insisted on putting his Black actors in dirty costumes. She also took a restaurant to court because it refused to serve her, and joined her voice with the first African American Congressman from the state of New York when she married Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. in 1945. Scott’s bright star dimmed when she was caught up in the Red Scare of the 1950s and refused to back down, testifying in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee to defend herself and her colleagues, and was blacklisted as a result. America owes so much to Hazel Scott, trailblazer for Oprah, Beyonce, Alicia Keys and many others, so why is her story not more well-known? Our film will investigate the disappearance of Hazel Scott.
Nicole London is the Grammy-nominated Producer of Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool, a major international documentary on the legendary musician. Recent credits include American Masters Sammy Davis Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me, The Talk: Race in America, and 16 short films now playing in the Segregation Gallery of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, DC. Three recent films have been nominated for NAACP Image Awards: Miles Davis, American Masters August Wilson: The Ground On Which I Stand and Firelight Media’s The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, the latter of which was also nominated for a 2016 Primetime Emmy. She is currently directing two films, one on the life of Frederick Douglass, the other on Harriet Tubman. Both will air nationally on PBS.
Thomas Kaufman- Director of Photography
Thomas Kaufman is an Emmy-winning, Academy Award-nominated cinematographer. Since graduating from the University of Southern California in 1981 with an MFA in Film and Video Production, he has worked as a DoP for documentary, commercial, and fiction films. Tom Kaufman has won the Gordon Parks Award for Cinematography twice. His work includes ‘Change Agents’, ‘The Spy Behind Home Plate’, ‘A Gray State’, ‘The Hunting Ground’, ‘Countdown to Zero’, ‘Rosenwald’, ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’, ‘Eyes on the Prize’, ‘Life and Times of Hank Greenburg’, ‘American Standoff’, ‘Promises to Keep’. Recent work includes ‘Crip Camp’, ‘The Janes’ and ‘The Picture Taker’.
Nancy Serna Guerrero, Director of Photography
Nancy Serna is an experienced Director of Photography with over ten years of experience working on documentaries, commercials, and live events. Fluent in Spanish and English, Nancy studied film at the New York Film Academy. Her work includes ‘El Equipo’, ‘Split at the Root’, ‘A Choice of Weapons: Inspired by Gordon Parks’, ‘Coded’, ‘Ask Bassem’, ‘Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America’s Elections’, ‘Brooklyn Love Stories’, ‘The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley’, ‘Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind’ and ‘RBG’.
Mark Fason- Editor
Mark Fason is a Peabody award-winning, Emmy-nominated editor who has created documentary television for the past twenty years, working for Apple+, ABC, PBS, HBO Sports, National Geographic, The Discovery Channel and more. Recent credits include ‘The Line’, ‘Becoming Frederick Douglass’, ‘Born Wild: The Next Generation’, ‘Wrong Man’, ‘Parched: Global Water in Crisis’, ‘The White House: Inside Story’, and ‘All the President’s Men Revisited’.
Navin Harrilal- Editor
Navin Harrilal is a Toronto-based editor, who for twenty years has edited documentary films for History, Discovery, BBC, CBC, PBS, National Geographic and more. Recent work includes the Peabody winning ‘The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks’, ‘How it Feels to be Free’ (PBS), ‘Age of Consent’, ‘Bloodlust’, ‘Smoke Show’, ‘Dopesick’ and ‘Angry Planet: Storm Chaser’.
Junior Lopez- Graphic Design and Animation
Junior Lopez is the founder and Chief Creative Officer of Illworks Studio. Since 2010, Illworks has created motion picture graphics and animation for BBC, PBS, CBC, VICE, Discovery and more. Recent projects include the Peabody award-winning ‘The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks’, ‘Black Liberators-WW2’, ‘BLK: An Origin Story’, ‘Terror in 26th Street Garage’, ‘The Genetic Revolution’, ‘Camp X: Secret Agent School’, ‘Icebridge’ and ‘On the Brink of Disaster.’
Sheila MacVicar- Producer
Sheila MacVicar is a founding partner of 4th Act Factual, a transcontinental partnership based in Washington DC, Paris, Rome and Athens. Sheila comes to documentary film after a long career in network television journalism, including documentary and long form work. Her work has been recognized with a Peabody Award, three National Emmys, a Columbus Film Festival Gold medal award, and a duPont- Columbia award among others.
Adam Clayton Powell III
Adam Clayton Powell III is the only child of Hazel Scott and Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Mr. Powell is a consultant to the film but retains no editorial control.
Donald H. Thoms, Executive Producer, 4th Act Factual
Donald Thoms is the former Vice President of Programming for PBS, overseeing the visual arts, dance, music, and performance programming, as well as independent films. Mr. Thoms is an award-winning producer and former VP of Production and Talent Development for Discovery Communications. Recently, Mr. Thoms served as executive producer for ‘Raul Julia: The World’s a Stage’ for American Masters and ‘Jon Leguizamo: Latin History for Morons’ for Great Performances. Mr. Thoms is a staunch supporter of filmmakers of color through the medium of television and theater.
- Hazel Scott. (By Gilles Petard/Redferns)
- THE HAZEL SCOTT SHOW, Hazel Scott (host), 1950. ph: William Kahn / courtesy Everett Collection