Yvonne Smith, Producer/Director
Yvonne Smith, a producer, director, and writer, has in-depth experience documenting political, social, and cultural history, bringing her unique cultural honesty to bear on films about the prime movers and shapers of the African American experience. She produced and directed Motown 40: The Music Is Forever, a two-hour documentary broadcast nationally on ABC and produced, wrote and directed Make It Funky, the episode on funk music, for PBS’s Emmy-nominated, Peabody Award-winning series Rock and Roll. Smith’s film about the controversial congressman Adam Clayton Powell, which she produced with Richard Kilberg for PBS’s The American Experience, was nominated for an Academy Award and awarded the Eric Barnouw Prize by the Organization of American Historians, the National Educational Film and Video Festival’s Best of Festival prize, the CINE Golden Eagle, and the Ohio State Award.
Smith was the writer, director, and co-producer of Mo’ Funny: Black Comedy In America for HBO, which won a Cable ACE Award for excellence in cable programming and a CINE Golden Eagle. She also wrote, directed and narrated Ray Charles: The Genius of Soul for American Masters on PBS, and produced and directed Jewels in a Test Tube, a profile of biochemist Lynda Jordan, for the WGBH mini-series Discovering Women. During her six-year tenure at Great Performances (WNET/Thirteen/PBS), Smith developed and produced the documentary Miles Ahead: The Music of Miles Davis and The Gospel at Colonus, a musical drama featuring Morgan Freeman, the Five Blind Boys of Alabama, and the Soul Stirrers. Her other credits include the musical variety show Ellington: The Music Lives On and several film and tape dramas for American Playhouse including For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf by Ntozake Shange.
Harlene Freezer, Producer
Harlene Freezer has worked extensively in television, film, and theater for more than 15 years as a producer, programmer, and production executive. She is a co-founder of The Green Room Company Limited Partnership, a unique theatrical production and investment fund created to invest in multiple productions in the United Kingdom. The two initial investments for the fund were Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical The Woman in White, starring Michael Crawford, and a musical adaptation of the film Billy Elliot, with a score by Elton John. In 2003, Freezer co-produced three shows in London’s West End: Absolutely (perhaps) directed by Franco Zeffirelli, an all-male production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Ragtime. She was the director and programmer for First Look, a project of Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Film Center. First Look was a highly selective and competitive screening series created as a distribution platform and talent showcase for promising new American independent films and filmmakers, screening the first features of directors such as M. Night Shyamalan, Chris Kentis, and Laura Lau.
Freezer was the senior producer for the initial six seasons of American Masters, PBS’s award-winning arts biography series. She received an Emmy Award as the co-producer of Edward R. Murrow: This Reporter, and an Emmy nomination for Harold Lloyd: The Third Genius. Other PBS series on which she has worked include: Great Performances: In Performance at the White House, Rock and Roll, and Civilization and the Jews. Freezer is a past president of New York Women in Film and Television.
Sharon Davis, Producer