Getting Ready
melina matsoukas

Getting a Trim and Listening to Trap with Melina Matsoukas

Such was the scene when we got ready with the director before the Ghetto Film School Gala.

By: Jodi Taylor
Photography: Adam Torgerson

Last night, the non-profit organization Ghetto Film School held their annual gala in Beverly Hills. The honorees of the night included Cov alum (and video director extraordinaire) Melina Matsoukas, Michael B. Jordan, and Courtney Monroe, and lucky for us, we were able to tag along with Matsoukas as she primped and prepped for the evening.

Matsoukas’ dress of choice for the night was a two-piece tie-dye Kim Shui set, and she topped it off with a geometric-looking Cushnie bag (drool), black, strappy Stella McCartney shoes, and dangly Annie Costello earrings. As her glam team worked their magic (Vernon François even gave her a quick trim), we all listened to Matsoukas’ Sunday Chill playlist—a mix of Afrobeat, dancehall, reggae, and trap.

Before Matsoukas ran out the door for the evening, we talked about how she first got involved with Ghetto Film School, why the organization is close to her heart, and what she does to calm her nerves ahead of a big event.


“I try to make it as chill as possible [when I’m getting ready]. I put on some music, I have a great glam team [Vernon François and Celina Rodriguez] who is full of energy and who is always ready to pep me up and take me out of the workday and transfer me into a going-out mood. I don’t get to go out a lot, so these kind of events are sometimes my social time as well. This event in particular is really close to my heart, so I’m really excited for it.”

“My stylist, Mindy Le Brock, is a wonderful woman to collaborate with. I’m so bad at making decisions about clothing.”

“I have my Sunday music playlist that I listen to. It’s a mix of chill music, it has some Afrobeat on there, some reggae, dancehall, and then some trap music. A little bit of everything [laughs], it takes you through all of these different phases.”

“Around two years ago [the Ghetto Film School] asked me to come and talk to some of their students. I was more than happy to do so because the program started in South Bronx, and that’s where I’m from. I was coming off of working in television and film and was really frustrated with the lack of diversity on our crews and, you know, knowing that that education needs to start from young and that’s what they’re doing—they’re bringing resources to communities that are underserved and don’t have access to our industry and introducing them to that and really giving a voice to the unheard in many ways.”

“I don’t really like to be on the Hollywood scene, if that makes any sense, but [Ghetto Film School] is completely different, and I was so honored. It was maybe four, five months ago [that I found out I was being honored], and I actually didn’t think I was going to be in town, but I was like, of course, I’ll fly myself back to be there because I know how much that program means to the community, and it means so much to me that I wanted to make sure that my presence was felt.”

What she was most looking forward to at the event:

“Meeting all of the fellows and seeing their work, seeing what they’ve been up to. The last time I went to speak to them, they were really advanced, and they travel. They’re making really great short pieces, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store. They all come from different walks of life, and to see the many different kinds of voices next to each other is always something that’s really interesting to me.”

On if she gets nervous for large events and red carpets:

“I really hate being in front of a camera; I’m much more comfortable behind it, so I’m always trying to avoid a red carpet, video interviews, and go directly to the drinks. I’m completely nervous, and I’m not dying over that aspect of the event. I find that one glass of prosecco goes a long way [for my nerves], or I just try to be present and be with the people that are actually at the event, and not make it about the pictures.”

The advice she gives to those looking to get into the industry:

“I always say that education goes a long way, that’s why I’m such an admirer and supporter of the Ghetto Film School. I went to film school myself, and I just think that you should be completely knowledgeable of your craft. And education doesn’t necessarily have to happen in film school, it can also come from experience. Put your head to it, and dedicate yourself to learning.”

What she always has in her bag:

“I definitely always have some sort of lipstick or lip gloss and my phone. And for some reason I always try to use the tiniest purse possible, so it really doesn’t fit more than that.”

“[The last thing I do before walking out the door] is usually kiss my man goodbye, but he’ll be coming with me, so putting my shoes on and running around like a crazy person, because I’m usually late and have forgotten something.”