Mason Trailblazer: Nikyatu Jusu

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Mason professor and filmmaker Nikyatu Jusu. Photo provided

George Mason University professor and filmmaker Nikyatu Jusu has had a busy 2022.

In January, Jusu, assistant professor of directing and screenwriting in Mason’s Film and Video Studies Program, had her first feature film, “Nanny,” premier at the Sundance Film Festival, where she was awarded the Grand Jury Prize. Jusu is only the second Black woman director to win the prize, and the first horror director to do so.

In March, “Nanny,” which follows a undocumented West African nanny taking care of a privileged child on the New York’s Upper West Side, was acquired by Blumhouse and Prime Video for worldwide distribution.

But before she got to Sundance, Jusu was already creating a buzz. Variety named her to its “Directors to Watch” list, and IndieWire included her on its “22 Rising Female Filmmakers to Watch in 2022” list. She was also awarded the inaugural MPA Creator Award from the Motion Picture Association.

This was Jusu’s second time at Sundance. In 2019, her short vampire film “Suicide By Sunlight,” a project funded by the production grant "Through Her Lens" sponsored by the Tribeca Film Institute and Chanel, made its debut at the film festival.

Jusu's films have played at festivals nationally and internationally garnering her laurels and awards including a Directors Guild of America Honorable Mention. Three of her short films were acquired by and aired on HBO, her most recent being “Flowers.” This project was also awarded a Rooftop Films/Adrienne Shelly Foundation Short Film Grant.