Home Hollywood Tanya Kersey, Hollywood Black Film fest founder, dies at 61

Tanya Kersey, Hollywood Black Film fest founder, dies at 61


Tanya Kersey, who founded the Hollywood Black Film Festival, has died, her family announced on social media this week. She is 61 years old.

Kersey’s sister, Lisa M. Kersey, confirmed her death on Facebook on Tuesday. The entrepreneur died on Monday after “battling multiple health issues” for years, the post said.

“It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of my beautiful sister, Tanya Monique Kersey. My sister passed away peacefully last night in the company of her loved ones,” Lisa Kersey wrote. “While we will miss her dearly, we will be comforted by the fact that she is no longer in pain.”

Kersey founded the Hollywood Black Film Festival in 1998 with the goal of focusing on independent films and filmmakers from the African diaspora. Dubbed “Black Sundance,” the event welcomed notable attendees such as Sidney Poitier, John Singleton, Forest Whitaker, Sanaa Lathan and Loretta Devine.

The festival screened more than 1,000 films from the United States, Canada and 25 other countries.

Kersey was born on March 22, 1961 in New York City, according to The Hollywood Reporter. She attended Rutgers University’s Douglas School in the early 1980s and earned degrees in sociology and political science.

Before founding the Hollywood Black Film Festival, Kersey worked as an actor, model, entertainment reporter and radio host, according to a resume listed on her website.

“My belief is that people are not showing their Hollywood dreams because they don’t have all the information they need to make the right decisions, move in the right direction, and act in the right way,” she wrote in her resume. “My mission and passion has always been to serve by sharing information and knowledge.”

She founded the entertainment industry publication Black Talent News to provide more coverage for African-American readers. She also runs the Kersey Group, a boutique film consultancy that represents individuals, businesses, organisations, universities and government agencies.

In November 2021, the Hollywood Black Film Festival announced that it would return in October 2022, nearly four years after its last iteration in 2018.

After her death was announced, tributes flocked to Kersey in memory of her commitment to film space and Paving the way for black filmmakers and creativity.

“Tanya is a force of nature, a vigilant, helpful presence for the African American creative community,” Twitter producer and director Tina Andrews.

“When it comes to the film industry, knowing the festival, knowing what elements it takes to make it, [Kersey] Always be there to control everyone’s dreams,” Wrote Sada Espy Proctor, Sound designer, new media artist and dramatist. “I know I wouldn’t be where I am today in my career without her guidance and guidance.”

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