Seattle native TJ Martin is the first black man to win an Oscar as a Director for his documentary “Undefeated”!  Martin was just happy to be among some of his filmmaking heroes according to a recent article in the Seattle Times, now he’s made history.  Prior to Martin, the only non-caucassion to win an Oscar for their accomplishment as a Director, was Ang Lee for his film “Brokeback Mountain.”

FROM THE SEATTLE TIMES:  A tradition of the annual luncheon is a group photo, and Martin took his place as instructed in the fifth row. “I get up there,” he remembered on the phone last week, “and there were two people talking behind me. I thought ‘I recognize those voices.’ I turn around and it’s [Steven] Spielberg on my left and [Martin] Scorsese on my right. It was insane!”  It’s been a journey full of pinch-me moments for Martin, who grew up on Capitol Hill and the Central District and graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1997. Now 32, he’s been a filmmaker since his days at Western Washington University, where he began his first film (the documentary “A Day of Hype in America”). From there, he moved to Los Angeles — his current base — and got work as a film editor.

Martin had met Dan Lindsay (co-director of “Undefeated”) when both were hired to work on a documentary about beer pong. (No kidding.) Wanting to direct a film together, they came to producer Rick Middlemas, who had a story idea: He’d read online about East Memphis high-school star football player O.C. Brown, who lived part-time with his grandmother and part-time with his coach as he struggled with preparations for college-eligibility tests. The trio met with Brown and thought of making a film about him — “kind of an intimate coming-of-age film, watching him navigate these seemingly disparate worlds.”  As they spent more time in Memphis, the potential story got bigger. They met Bill Courtney, the team’s volunteer coach; a bear of a man still haunted by his absent father, and determined to help his often fatherless athletes succeed.  END SEATTLE TIMES ARTICLE.  See Martin at the luncheon in this clip:

Roger Ross Williams was the first African-American to win an Academy Award as a Director for his Documentary Short Subject “Music by Prudence” in 2009.  Williams shared the Director title with Elinor Burkett.  Lee Daniels and John Singleton have both been nominated for Best Director.  Singleton was first for “Boyz n the Hood”, and also the youngest in the category at age 23.  Daniels is the first black Director to have a film nominated for Best Picture for “Precious.”  The Oscar win of “Undefeated” is a plus for Executive Producer Sean “P-Diddy” Combs.  It was just announced last week that the music mogul will head a brand new television channel via the Comcast cable network.  Now he’ll walk through those doors essentially with an Oscar to his credit.


  • ed carter
    March 2, 2012

    “Prior to Martin, the only non-caucassion to win an Oscar for their accomplishment as a Director, was Ang Lee for his film “Brokeback Mountain.” ”
    Correction: Freida Lee Mock, who is Asian American, won an Oscar for producing/directing the Documentary Feature MAYA LIN: A STRONG CLEAR VISION in 1994.

  • c-dub
    March 3, 2012

    Thanks for info Ed – greatly appreciated

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