- NEW YORK
Director Cynthia Wade--whose work spans short and long-form documentaries, commercials and branded content--has signed with bicoastal production house Honor Society for spotmaking representation in the U.S. Wade has twice been nominated for the Best Short Subject Documentary Oscar, winning it in 2008 for HBO’s Freeheld, which tells the story of Laurel Hester who’s diagnosed with terminal cancer. The dying policewoman wants to leave her pension benefits to her life partner, Stacie Andree, only to have that request denied. Hester fought to gain that right so that her same-sex partner could afford to keep their home in New Jersey. Freeheld was later made into a narrative feature directed by Peter Sollett and starring Julianne Moore and Ellen Page.
Wade’s second Short Subject Documentary Oscar nod came in 2013 for Mondays at Racine, which introduces us to two sisters--Rachel and Cynthia--who run a beauty salon on Long Island. Every third Monday of the month, their salon, called Racine, provides free beauty and support services for women undergoing chemotherapy. The sisters--who lost their mother to breast cancer--are determined to give women who are losing their hair, eyebrows and eyelashes a sense of normalcy and dignity during a traumatic, uncertain time. As it delves into the lives of the sisters and the women who come into the salon, the documentary evolves into a poignant, moving look at womanhood, motherhood and marriage.
On the ad front, Wade has directed major commercial campaigns for brands including Kellogg’s, Unilever, Pfizer, Hershey and Bristol Myers Squibb. Her branded films include Selfie for Dove Real Beauty and #EndMommyWars for Similac, which both ranked as Top 10 most watched videos on YouTube after their release. In April of this year, Wade premiered her most recent feature-length documentary entitled Grit at the Hot Docs International Film Festival, North America’s largest documentary festival held in Toronto. Wade is currently developing her first narrative feature.
“Cynthia’s vast experience working with top broadcasters such as HBO, her high quality branded films and her authentic directorial sensibility on spots make her a great fit for Honor Society,” says Megan Kelly, founder/managing partner at Honor Society. “She’s the kind of smart, resourceful filmmaker that agencies and brands want to have in their corner when navigating the intersection of entertainment and advertising.”
Wade holds an MA in documentary filmmaking from Stanford University, and started out in the industry as a cameraperson working for studios such as A&E and MTV while directing her own independent documentaries.
“I’ve been watching what Honor Society is doing and I’ve been impressed by some of their work, and with Megan Kelly’s leadership and choices,” Wade said.
Early on, Wade became known for her hand-held verité camera work. In addition to her Oscar recognition for Freeheld and Mondays at Racine, Wade saw her documentary short Born Sweet get shortlisted for an Academy Award. Wade’s primetime PBS special Growing Hope Against Hunger won an Emmy. She has received both a Special Jury Prize and an Honorable Mention at the Sundance Film Festival as well a Clio Image Award. Wade was most recently represented for commercials by Mod Op (which has since evolved into the company MOR).