Filmmaker of the Year Janicza Bravo on Zola’s Legacy, Directing TV, and Why She Wants to Write Her Next Film on Her Own

"I think all the doors have been opened now"

janicza bravo interview filmmaker of the year
Janicza Bravo, photo by Charles Prince King

    Our 2021 Annual Report wraps up with the announcement of Janicza Bravo as our Filmmaker of the Year. You can find all of our awards, lists, and articles about the best music, film, and TV of 2021 in one place here.

    A thread that ran through Consequence’s hourlong conversation with filmmaker of the year Janicza Bravo was the concept of what we leave behind in life. This isn’t too surprising, given that both Bravo and this writer were musing about what’s like to be a woman who just turned 40. But what was a bit unexpected was that we got there by way of David Tennant.

    “The first line of the obituary, I suspect, has been written,” the Scottish actor said a few years ago, commenting on how playing the 10th Doctor of Doctor Who has affected his legacy. When Consequence brought up that quote, it made Bravo reflect on how she’s changed recently, both as an artist and as a person.


    “I feel more comfortable with myself,” she says. “Of course it’s gradual — you don’t turn 40 and the next day you feel better. But I feel this gradual movement toward just being more comfortable and also having perhaps more room for reflection than there had been when I was younger, that that wasn’t even necessarily a part of my vocabulary.”

    Of course, Bravo’s career to date has already demonstrated a rich interest in reflection. Her first feature, Lemon, was co-written by her then-husband Brett Gelman and was inspired, she says, by very relatable feelings of “missing out and feeling like you’re going to be left behind and looking at all of the peers who’ve passed you by.”

    Her TV work includes episodes of Atlanta and Mrs. America that revolve around characters finding themselves in wild circumstances, and coming to understand themselves better as a result. During the pandemic, she even directed four episodes of In Treatment, a show that’s literally about people struggling to look inward.