Lena Waithe and Brian Tyree Henry to Make It Rain 'Film Independent' Grants Totaling $125K for Indie Creators

(L-R): Lena Waithe attends Refinery29's 29Rooms Los Angeles 2018: Expand Your Reality at The Reef on December 04, 2018 in Los Angeles, Ca.; Brian Tyree Henry attends The Hollywood Reporter’s Power 100 Women In Entertainment on December 5, 2018 in Los Angeles, Ca.
Photo: David Livingston (Getty Images), Jesse Grant (Getty Images for The Hollywood Reporter)

There’s a pile of money up for grabs for indie filmmakers.

Lena Waithe and Brian Tyree Henry will be doing the honors of presenting four annual Film Independent grants.


“We are excited to be giving out four unrestricted grants, totaling $125,000, to some insanely deserving emerging talent,” said Waithe and Henry in a statement.

Via Variety:

The Bonnie Award (The award recognizes a mid-career female director and is sponsored by American Airlines in honor of Bonnie Tiburzi Caputo who joined American Airlines in 1973 at age 24, becoming the first female pilot to fly for a major U.S. airline. The award is in its second year and includes a $50,000 unrestricted grant.)

The Truer Than Fiction Award (The award is presented to an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not received significant recognition. The award is in its twenty-fourth year and includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant.)

The Someone to Watch Award (The award recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition. This award is in its twenty-fifth year and includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant.)

The Producers Award (The award honors emerging producers who, despite highly limited resources demonstrate the creativity, tenacity and vision required to produce quality, independent films. The award is in its twenty-second year and includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant.)

“It’s an honor to pay tribute to and celebrate these incredibly talented filmmakers. Being a part of something as special as If Beale Street Could Talk reminds us all about the power of independent filmmaking,” noted Henry, who co-stars in the acclaimed film.

Waithe is paying it forward, given her own experience with Film Independent and the non-profit organization’s support. The Emmy Award-winning writer is currently serving as the Spirit Award’s honorary chair.


“Film Independent and I go way back. Dear White People was nominated for a Spirit Award, I’ve given the Diversity Speaks Keynote address, they screened The Chi—it’s a real filmmaking community committed to celebrating original voices and I am so proud to also serve as Honorary Chair,” Waithe said.

The pair will also be hosting the brunch celebrating the current award nominees.

The 2019 Spirit Award Nominee Brunch will be held February 5 in West Hollywood. The 2019 Film Independent Spirit Awards ceremony will take place on February 23 at 5 p.m. EST/2 p.m. PST and will broadcast live on IFC.

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Tonja Renée Stidhum

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.