D.C. native Agnes Moss vividly remembers her dream of becoming a filmmaker during her matriculation at North Carolina Central University – an HBCU located in Durham, North Carolina.
Sadly, she also recalls how she eventually “settled on a more achievable career path” – first venturing into journalism before finding her niche in public relations.
“I realized that as a Black woman, I lacked the essentials for me to succeed as a filmmaker: financial resources, practical experience and industry-proven mentors who believed in me and were willing to open doors on my behalf in Hollywood,” she said.
Years later, she admits occasionally imagining how different her life could have been if insurmountable barriers had not been present which deterred her from achieving her dreams of success in Tinseltown.
And so, she decided to use her own resources to develop an organization that could provide encouragement, information, resources and additional support for Black youth whose goals in life resembled her unfulfilled hopes.
The idea, which first began to germinate in 2015, would result in the National Black Movie Association [NBMA] – a non-profit which she founded in 2019 and for which she serves as president.
“It occurred to me that if there had been a community of Black professionals – industry veterans – in film, visual arts, technology, communication and business to whom I could have turned, my own trajectory could have been much different,” Moss said. “With such a community, perhaps we could create new, innovative opportunities for talented college students of color who long to create narratives about their own lives, bringing greater awareness to stories that focus on African-American culture.”
“I want NBMA to serve as a bridge and to provide access for students at HBCUs, or Black students at other universities, who have the skills but lack the resources to get them to Hollywood,” said Moss who lives in Northeast and believes the industry has taken far too long to truly embrace diversity in every aspect.
In 2020, the organization began to showcase films featuring Black actors or produced and directed by African Americans, often in occurrence with National Black Movie Day – a newly-organized holiday observed annually in February which recognizes stories based on the African-American community that “move us to tears, spark uncontrollable laughter and both honor and promote Black achievement in film.”
NBMA recently sponsored a screening of “Respect,” the film based on the life of Aretha Franklin, for residents of the D.C. area, young adults and the organization’s members which totals more than 175 industry professionals.
“It’s our first major event since COVID-19 shut things down,” Moss said. “But we’ve kept going even though we’ve had to pivot and try different things. We chose ‘Respect’ because it’s such a powerful film which showcases the life of a Black icon. Further, it’s directed by a talented woman from South Africa, Liesl Tommy and was written by a Black woman – screenwriter and playwright Tracey Scott Wilson.”
“It’s the type of film we want to celebrate because of the history, lessons and stories that it shares about our culture,” Moss said. “And we have more events planned for the future as we salute Black filmmakers who continue to inspire and encourage the global community.”
“We’re an invitation-only collective comprised of Black professionals who have perfected their crafts and can share both their skills and invest in our social impact fund which will help the next generation. We’ve already given more than $10,000 in scholarships to aspiring filmmakers. But we need more hands on deck as we take on Hollywood and convince them of the importance of equal representation in all aspects of the filmmaking industry,” Moss said.
On September 7, NBMA will launch its short film competition for college students, “The Real HBCU Campaign.” Entries will be reviewed by a panel of award-winning and industry-respected judges and the winners will be rewarded with scholarships.
The winners will be announced in February 2022 during next year’s Black Movie Day celebration. Students should visit info@blackmovieassociation.org or www.blackmovieassociation.org, beginning Sept. 7, for more information.
“When I founded NBMA, it was a true leap of faith,” Moss said. “But I wanted to give back to my community and provide something that wasn’t there for me. Black students deserve a chance to fulfill their dreams but they need the resources to succeed.”
“If we keep waiting for others to provide opportunities, who knows how long it will take? she asked.

Dominic Kevin McNeir is an award-winning journalist with more than 25 years of service for the Black Press (NNPA). Prior to moving East to assist his aging parents in their struggles with Alzheimer’s,...

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