AYOKA CHENZIRA (aka Ayo), is an award-winning filmmaker, digital media artist and educator. She is a recognized pioneer who helped create a genre of film making now identified as Black independent cinema. As one of a small handful of African American women filmmakers, Ayoka has created a rich body of work that has received popular and critical acclaim. Ayoka’s more than twenty five films span fiction, documentary, animation, performance, experimental narratives and interstitial programming for television. She is known for film making that takes risks and combines different technologies with original storytelling.
In recent years, Ayoka returned to her artistic roots to explore expanding cinema. Influenced in part by experimental film making of the ’70s and Laura Marks concept of haptic cinema, she began creating stories that expand cinema to include the moving image, the tracking of physical objects and multiple screen
In 2001, Ayoka was invited to Spelman College to serve as the first William and Camille Cosby Endowed Professor. She is currently a professor of Film and Women’s Studies and the founding director of Spelman’s Digital Moving Image Salon. She earned a Ph.D. in Digital Media at the Georgia Institute of Technology, an M.A in Education at Columbia University/Teachers College and a B.F.A. in Film at New York University.
Ayoka is currently adapting the novels of Pearl Cleage for the screen and creating a web based interactive project titled HERadventure, which combines film with interactive virtual environments. The project is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.