Clement Virgo

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Clement Virgo
Clement Virgo at the 2017 CFC Alumni at TIFF Reception (37034658296).jpg
Virgo in 2017
Born (1966-06-01) June 1, 1966 (age 52)
Montego Bay, Jamaica
Nationality Canadian
Occupation Film director, television director, film producer, television producer, screenwriter
Years active 1991–present

Clement Virgo (born June 1, 1966) is a Canadian film and television writer, producer and director who runs the production company, Conquering Lion Pictures, with producer Damon D'Oliveira. Virgo is best known for co-writing and directing an adaptation of the novel by Canadian writer Lawrence Hill, The Book of Negroes (2015), a six-part miniseries that aired on CBC Television in Canada and BET in the United States.

Early life[edit]

Born in Montego Bay, Jamaica, Virgo immigrated to Canada at the age of 11.[1] In the summer of 1991, he attended the Canadian Film Centre’s inaugural Summer Lab initiative as a screenwriter, where he developed the screenplay for what would later become his feature film debut, Rude (1995).


Early work[edit]

At the CFC, Virgo met a strong group of other Canadian filmmakers, including Mina Shum, Stephen Williams (director), Joan Jenkinson, Robert Adetuyi, Beatrice Mosionier and Damon D'Oliveira. Virgo made the stylized award-winning short film, Save My Lost Nigga’ Soul, through the CFC’s Short Film Program. He wrote and directed while D’Oliveira produced the film, which won Best Film prizes at the Toronto, Fespaco and Chicago Film Festivals.[2]

After this success, Virgo and D’Oliveira were invited to participate in the CFC’s film residency program in 1992 (which would later become the Features Program at the Canadian Film Centre). Together, Virgo and D’Oliveira established Conquering Lion Pictures and produced their first feature film, Rude. It had its world premiere at Cannes as part of the Un certain regard program.[3]

Virgo's next films, The Planet of Junior Brown, which earned Virgo an Emmy nomination, and Love Come Down, were followed by Lie with Me, which caused a stir at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival for its artistically daring portrayal of explicit sexual themes.[4] Starring Lauren Lee Smith and Eric Balfour, Lie With Me had its European premiere at the 2006 Berlin International Film Festival, Panorama Section. It has been distributed internationally in over 30 territories, and sold to Showtime in the United States.[5]

2007–present: Continued success[edit]

His boxing drama Poor Boy's Game, starred Danny Glover and Rossif Sutherland. It had its world premiere at the 2007 Berlin International Film Festival, Panorama Special Section, and was presented as a Special Selection at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival. Poor Boy’s Game earned Virgo a nomination in 2007 for the Directors Guild of Canada (DGC) Outstanding Achievement Craft Award for direction of a motion picture film. In a review for Variety, critic Leslie Felperin wrote that “Poor Boy’s Game may rep [Virgo’s] best work so far, blending seamlessly his preoccupation with race, fluid identities, and complex sexuality.” [6]

Virgo co-wrote and directed the six-part miniseries adaptation of Lawrence Hill's bestselling novel The Book of Negroes (2015), starring Aunjanue Ellis, Cuba Gooding Jr., Lou Gossett Jr., Ben Chaplin, Jane Alexander and Lyriq Bent, which aired to wide acclaim and a record-breaking 1.7 million Canadian viewers in January 2015 on CBC in Canada.[7] It went on to premiere in February 2015 in the United States, drawing landmark ratings for BET (Black Entertainment Television.)[8] Additional accolades for the miniseries include 11 Canadian Screen Awards,[9] two U.S. Critics Choice Television Awards nominations for Best Limited Series and Best Actress in a Limited Series (Aunjanue Ellis),[10] three 2015 NAACP Image Award Nominations, including Best Miniseries, Best Actor (Cuba Gooding Jr.), Best Actress (Ellis), and the NAACP Award for Best Writing in a TV Movie or Miniseries for Virgo and Lawrence Hill.[11] The Book of Negroes was also named one of 60 finalists for the 2016 Peabody Awards.[12] Currently, Virgo and D’Oliveira are adapting Hill’s latest novel, The Illegal (2015).[3]

Virgo has also received wide acclaim for his work in television. His recent credits include The Wire for HBO, The L Word for Showtime, Baz Luhrmann’s Netflix drama The Get Down (2016), American Crime for ABC, and the OWN drama series Greenleaf (2016), on which he is also serving as Executive Producer with Oprah Winfrey, in its second season.[13]

Other work[edit]

From 2010 to 2014, Virgo and the Canadian Film Centre co-hosted a series of intimate annual talks to celebrate Black History Month in Toronto, with such notable guests as Lee Daniels, Norman Jewison, Spike Lee, Pam Grier, John Singleton, and Chris Tucker.


On March 22, 2017, Virgo and D’Oliveira as Conquering Lion Pictures co-founders will receive the Canadian Film Centre’s Fourth Annual Award for Creative Excellence. Norman Jewison will present them with the award at a private event in Los Angeles.[14]





  1. ^ Wyndham Wise, "Clement Virgo", The Canadian Encyclopedia 
  2. ^ Fuller, Jan. Northern Stars. 2009. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-11-27. Retrieved 2010-11-24. 
  3. ^ a b DeRosia, Margaret. "Close-Up: Conquering Lion Pictures". Canadian Film Centre. Retrieved 1 March 2017. 
  4. ^ Walker, Susan. (September 25, 2005). "Lie With Me." Toronto Star.
  5. ^ "Lie with Me". 3 March 2006 – via 
  6. ^ Felperin, Leslie. (February 12, 2007). "Berlin Reviews". Variety. Retrieved 2010-11-24.
  7. ^ "Book of Negroes tops ratings for its time slot". 
  8. ^ "The Book of Negroes Extras & Exclusives". 
  9. ^ "The Book of Negroes wins 11 Canadian Screen Awards - TO411 Daily". 
  10. ^ "Two Critics' Choice Awards nominations for The Book of Negroes - CBC News". 
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-08-28. Retrieved 2016-04-10. 
  12. ^ "The 60 Peabody Finalists". 
  13. ^ Wagmeister, Elizabeth (14 September 2015). "OWN's Megachurch Drama 'Greenleaf' Adds 'The Wire' Alum as EP and Director". 
  14. ^ "CFC Celebrates Damon D'Oliveira, Clement Virgo and Acclaimed Conquering Lion Pictures with Fourth Annual Award for Creative Excellence". Canadian Film Centre. Retrieved 1 March 2017. 

External links[edit]