The American Film Institute said that film, TV and music video artist Melina Matsoukas will be this year’s recipient of the Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal, which honors creative talents of AFI Conservatory alumni who embody the qualities of the filmmaker for which it is named after.
The medal, which recognizes artists that have talent, taste, dedication and commitment to quality storytelling in film and TV, will be presented at the AFI Life Achievement Award Tribute to Denzel Washington in Hollywood on June 6.
Matsoukas is the first woman of color to be honored with the medal.
Matsoukas, who is from the AFI Class of 2005, is known for numerous films, TV series and music videos. One of her most notable works being a part of the team for Beyonce’s game-changing visual album Lemonade. She also directed the “Thanksgiving” episode of Master of None, for which Lena Waithe won the Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series. She will team with Waithe again and make her feature directorial debut with the sociopolitical thriller Queen & Slim, which has been gaining buzz around town.
In addition, Matsoukas has worked with icons, legends and some of the most influential names in the industry including Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and the one and only Whitney Houston. She directed and executive produced Issa Rae’s Insecure on HBO. She won a Grammy for Rihanna’s “We Found Love” and for Beyonce’s “Formation” video, which has become an anthemic touchstone for female black empowerment. She has also directed the pilot for FX’s upcoming post-apocalyptic sci-fi series Y: The Last Man.
Previous Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal honorees include Darren Aronofsky, Lesli Linka Glatter, Patty Jenkins, Mimi Leder, David Lynch, Terrence Malick and Rachel Morrison.