A director who’s spent much of her career mentoring others--particularly through the Gen Z company that’s her brainchild, Adolescent Content, which has given a filmmaking/creative career path to young people, including women and members of the LGBTQ community--Ramaa Mosley finally had the tables turned on her over the past couple of years. The long-time mentor has been getting mentored as of late at the highest level; first in 2017 by director/producer Lesli Linka Glatter as part of a DGA initiative which afforded Mosley the opportunity to observe Glatter and her compatriots, including director Charlotte Sieling, during the making of the acclaimed Showtime series Homeland.
“Lesli is incredibly talented, so generous, reaching out to others on my behalf, connecting me with people I probably would have never met,” related Mosley. “She’s brilliant and caring. Wanting to give and mentor has been part of my everyday life as a director. Still, I felt for years that hadn’t been reciprocated--not that you have to get in order to give but it was nice to have someone like Lesli take me in and help my career.”
Glatter also advised Mosley to apply for NBC’s Female Forward directors program, which aims to achieve gender parity in the director’s chair by giving its class of female helmers the chance to shadow multiple episodes of NBC scripted series, with an in-season commitment to direct at least one episode of a show.
Mosley wound up being chosen for that select inaugural Female Forward class, observing for three weeks, taking a break to tend to some commercial directing work, and then resuming with another three weeks of observation, culminating in Mosley directing an episode of Blindspot. Titled “Though This Be Madness, Yet There Is Method In’t,” the episode premiered in primetime on Feb. 15.
Though she’s still young, Mosley is a veteran director. She started directing at the age of 16, shortly thereafter landing at the former Johns+Gorman Films for spot representation. “I’ve been directing for over 20 years yet going to an entirely different world in episodic TV was super educational,” said Mosley about the DGA and NBC programs. “I saw how two directors on Blindspot handled varied situations--David McWhirter who started out as an assistant director and David Tuttman who first established himself as a DP. They are directors who bring a lot to their work. Being part of these programs (as a mentee) now enables me to bring that much more back to my mentoring of Gen Z directors and others.”
Mosley’s episodic directorial debut was well received, adding to a number of recent new chapters in her career. For one, her alluded to spotmaking and branded content endeavors are now through Station Film, which she joined several months back based in part on her affinity for the company’s managing director Stephen Orent and EP/partner Caroline Gibney. Mosley recently wrapped her first project with Station--a P&G/Secret deodorant campaign which includes a spot featuring U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team forward Alex Morgan as well as youth players. From agency Berlin Cameron NY partnered with Landor, the piece--based on the concept that women are stronger when they work together--is an extension of Secret’s “All Strength, No Sweat” ad campaign, which features women who pursue their passions without sweating obstacles in their path.
Another recent highlight for Mosley has been her second feature film, Lost Child, which she wrote and directed, teaming with producer/writer Tim Macy. Starring Leven Rambin (The Hunger Games, HBO’s True Detective), Taylor John Smith (HBO’s Sharp Objects) and Jim Parrack (Suicide Squad, HBO’s True Blood), the psychological thriller--released in late 2018--won Best Narrative Feature at the Kansas City Film Festival.
Mosley’s first feature, The Brass Teapot, also registered on the festival circuit, premiering at the Toronto International Film Fest in 2012, gaining distribution from Magnolia Pictures, and nominations for an International Critics’ Award (FIPRESCI) and a Saturn Award, the latter coming from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films.
As she explores new opportunities in series TV and features as well as the promise of a new relationship with Station Film for ads and branded fare (adding to credits which span such clients as adidas, Levi’s, Absolut, Chevrolet and Mini Cooper),
Mosley affirmed that she will continue to be active in mentoring, primarily via Adolescent Content, which serves as a production company and think tank. “I believe in helping brands and agencies reach the Gen Z audience by using Gen Z creators. We have over 500 creators in 20 different countries at Adolescent,” related Mosley who serves as the company’s executive creative director, noting that the shop’s creators and directors are 85 percent female, of color, and/or from the LGBTQ sector, with diverse socio-economic backgrounds.
Being conscious of and responsive to the Gen Z perspective is also good business, shared Mosley, in that it accounts for a $485 billion market in the U.S. alone.
Mosley’s body of work has over the years reflected a heightened sense of gender, inclusion and diversity. For example, she was honored with the Global 500 United Nations Award as a teenager for her first documentary. And many years later Mosley directed the Afghan segment of Girl Rising, a documentary about eight girls around the world struggling against the odds to get an education. Working with famed Afghan writer Aarghuna Kargar, Mosley directed a segment which told the story of an Afghani girl sold into marriage at age 12. Girl Rising was nominated for Outstanding Documentary at the NAACP’s 2014 Image Awards. Since then, Mosley helped raise awareness of the Chibok schoolgirl kidnapping in Nigeria with the #BringBackOurGirls social media campaign.
Mosley has also been on the discussion circuit relative to diversity and inclusion, giving a TedX Talk titled “The Power of Adolescent Directors,” and speaking on a Women in Media panel at Sundance back in January. Furthermore, last month Mosley moderated a session at SXSW called “The Future of Gender Identities in Art and Media,” with Adolescent Content director panelists Hobbes Ginsberg, Myles Loftin and Sita McVay. Discussion centered on how Gen Z is shifting the traditional norms of masculinity and femininity by using the power of their art and technology to progressively advance perceptions and depictions of gender identities, moving away from stereotypes of--and giving voice to--people who’ve been traditionally marginalized in the media.