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Melina Matsoukas

Melina Matsoukas

American music video, film, commercial and television director
Melina Matsoukas
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American music video, film, commercial and television director
Is Television director Film director Music video director
From United States of America
Type Film, TV, Stage & Radio Music
Gender female
Birth 14 January 1981, Bronx, New York
Age 39 years
Star sign Capricorn
New York University Tisch School of the Arts
American Film Institute
The details


Melina Matsoukas (born 14 January 1981) is an American director of music videos and commercials. She has won two Grammy Awards and four MTV Video Music Awards.

Early life and education

Melina Matsoukas was born on January 14, 1981, in the Bronx, New York. When she was eight, the family moved to Hackensack, New Jersey. 

She is of Greek, Jewish, Jamaican and Cuban descent; her father, a builder, is half Greek and half Jewish and her mother, a math teacher at a high school, is of Afro-Cuban and Afro-Jamaican descent. Both her first and last names are Greek: Μελίνα Ματσούκα.

Matsoukas attended New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and later earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in cinematography from the American Film Institute. Her graduate thesis was on music videos.


Music videos

Matsoukas started out at Black Dog Film, then the now-defunct Gorilla Flix film production company. Since 2011, she has been working with Prettybird,

Her work is described as:

chock full of bright colors or crisp black and white images, smooth spotlights, and tasteful retro video models.

Matsoukas' known official debut in show business came in February 2004, when she served as a cinematographer for the short drama Skal, starring Brandon Crane, Brad Light, and Kiff Scholl. The same year, she also worked on another short film titled Palmarejo, starring Marilyn Ghigliotti and Sarah Nanko among others.

In 2006, Matsoukas made her music direction debut with the duo Ali and Big Gipp's music video Go 'Head. In the same year, she directed the Money Maker music video by Ludacris featuring Pharrell Williams.

In 2007, she directed the music video for Beyoncé's Suga Mama. In November of that year, she directed Snoop Dogg's Sensual Seduction.

Over the following years, Matsoukas collaborated with many celebrated musicians, including Jennifer Lopez (Hold It Don't Drop It, 2007), Ne-Yo (Do You, 2007), Kylie Minogue (Wow, 2008), Kylie Minogue (In My Arms, 2008), Lady Gaga (Just Dance, 2008), Ashanti: (Good Good, 2008), Katy Perry: (Thinking of You, 2008), Lily Allen: (Not Fair, 2009).

In 2017, Matsoukas directed two episodes of the TV comedy series Master of None, starring Aziz Ansari and Eric Wareheim.

In June 2019, Matsoukas presented the BET Awards alongside 50 CentCardi B, and Mary J. Blige, among others.

Most recently, in 2019, she directed a feature film titled Queen & Slim. The film's screenplay was written by Lena Waithe and had in the lead cast Daniel KaluuyaJodie Turner-Smith, and Bokeem Woodbine. The film earned her a DGA nomination in the First-Time Feature Film category. She has also finished filming the pilot episode of the TV series Y: The Last Man, which will star Ben Schnetzer.


Matsoukas has developed television commercials for many well-known global brands including Adidas, Stella McCartney, Coca-Cola, and Nike. In 2017, she collaborated with advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy to create and direct the wildly successful Equality campaign, which starred a variety of American athletes, including LeBron JamesSerena WilliamsKevin DurantMegan RapinoeDalilah MuhammadGabby Douglas, and Victor Cruz. The ad won a Graphite pencil at the 2017 D&AD Awards and a Bronze Film Craft Lion at the 2017 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. 

Selected commercials

2011Year Of - Target / Beyoncé
2011Fuel for Life - Diesel
2012All Originals Represent - Adidas
2013Change Lanes - Lexus
2016Pop - Stella McCartney / Grimes, Amandla Stenberg, Lourdes Leon, Kenya Kinski-Jones
2017Equaility - Nike


A good video has the right visuals, a well-conceptualized story and should be exciting and elicit a reaction.

In an interview for Venus Zine's Fall 2010 issue, she says about being part of the music video world, "I love it. The quick turnaround, the creativity." Regarding the concept of Solange Knowles' video "I Decided", Matsoukas stated: "This is her concept so I've definitely just developed it and put my mark on it."

Awards and recognition

In 2016, Matsoukas was listed among Ad Age's prestigious "Creativity 50."

Grammy Awards, Best Short Form Music Video (Winner)Rihanna Feat. Calvin Harris: We Found Love (2011)
Camerimage, Jury Award (Nominee)Beyoncé: Formation (2016)
MTV VMA Award, Best Direction (Nominee)Beyoncé: Pretty Hurts (2013)
MTV VMA Award, Best Direction (Winner)Beyoncé: Formation (2016)
Camerimage, Best Music Video (Nominee)Beyoncé: Formation (2016)
Image Award, Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series (Nominee)Insecure (2016)
Black Reel Awards for Television, Outstanding Comedy Series (Nominee)Insecure (2016)
Gold Derby Awards, Comedy Episode of the Year (Winner)Master of None (2015)
Grammy Awards, Best Music Video (Winner)Beyoncé: Formation (2016)
Black Reel Awards for Television, Outstanding Directing, Comedy Series (Nominee)Insecure (2016)
Gold Derby TV Award, Comedy Episode of the Decade (Nominee)Master of None (2015)
Black Reel Awards for Television, Outstanding Comedy Series (Nominee)Insecure (2016)
Black Reel Awards, Outstanding Emerging Director (Winner)Queen & Slim (2019)
Black Reel Awards, Outstanding Director, Motion Picture (Nominee)Queen & Slim (2019)
To cite the article
We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you notice a mistake, please contact us. Below the article, you will find links to the references used.
Article Title: Melina Matsoukas: American music video, film, commercial and television director - Biography and Life
Author(s): PeoplePill.com Editorial Staff
Website Title: PeoplePill
Publisher: PeoplePill
Article URL: https://peoplepill.com/people/melina-matsoukas/
Publish Date: 11 Dec 2016
Date Accessed: 03 Dec 2020
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