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Filmmakers Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Lisa Cortes and Crystal R. Emery team up for ‘Director 2 Director’ In Courageous Conversations Series

Crystal Salli and Lisa

Acclaimed filmmakers Salli Richardson-Whitfield and Lisa Cortés joined celebrated STEM advocate and filmmaker Crystal R. Emery on August 22 for “Director 2 Director,” a candid online conversation, which marked the launch of “Courageous Conversations,” a new series created by Emery and her multimedia production nonprofit URU, The Right to Be, Inc. “Director 2 Director” featured Academy Award® nominated and Emmy-winning producer and director Cortés (“All In The Fight for Democracy”; “The Apollo” ) serving as moderator for an honest and thought-provoking conversation with actor turned filmmaker Richardson-Whitfield (“Queen Sugar”) and Emery (“Black Women in Medicine”) on their lives, careers, expectations and sacrifices made in the entertainment industry and more.

“Director 2 Director” was the debut of Courageous Conversations, which will see Emery — an American Association for the Advancement of Science AAAS IF/THEN Ambassador, who is also triumphing over quadriplegia and two serious diseases — in dialogue with pioneers from a variety of fields on the fearless moments that shaped their careers.

Speaking on her career — which has witnessed her move from starring in films with Will Smith (“I Am Legend”) and Denzel Washington (“Antwone Fisher”) to helming series such as ABC’s Scandal and Netflix’s Luke Cage — the process she embarked upon to begin her work as a director and how she defines “courageous,” Richardson-Whitfield noted, “I don’t keep my silence anymore. I am going to speak up, and I’m going to be an advocate for other people and for myself. For the work.”

Working at the nexus of education and entertainment to craft socially conscious films, tech and VR projects, books and more that reflect her experiences and those of others from marginalized communities, Emery remarked that “[c]ourageous is every day, it’s standing in my truth and not allowing others to define who I am, what I am and what I should be doing.”

Spotlighted by Emery as one of the most courageous and positive people she knows, Cortés advocated for honoring “that inner voice, that is your inner cheerleader that will take you to many unexpected, glorious places as an artist.”

Audiences can learn more about Emery and her work by visiting

Emery’s newest documentary, “The Deadliest Disease in America,” which exposes the history of racism in American health care and its many ramifications in modern-day science and medical treatment for people of color, opens on September 10 for a week-long run at Cinema Village in Manhattan. For tickets and information, visit

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