Daphne Valerius is a filmmaker born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Rhode Island. She is best known for producing the 2007 documentary film The Souls of Black Girls. Valerius has also produced television work for ABC, FOX and BET.
Valerius attended St. John's University and earned a bachelor's degree in communications in 2003. While a student there, she had her first experiences producing and directing and began to become interested in media images and their effect on women of color. As a Ronald McNair Scholar, Valerius did her undergraduate research on self-esteem and self-confidence.
Valerius continued this research while earning her master's in broadcast journalism from Emerson College, completing that degree in 2006. For her work, she received an Associated Press Award for Public Affairs.
The Souls of Black Girls
As part of her journalism program at Emerson, Valerius produced a news documentary titled The Souls of Black Girls. With very limited budget, Valerius borrowed all needed camera, lighting, and editing equipment from the college. The film looked at historical and modern representations of women of color and the beauty standards therein. It included interviews about body image with young women as well as with prominent African-Americans including Regina King, Jada Pinkett Smith, Gwen Ifill, Chuck D, Michaela Angela Davis and Juanita Jennings.
The film's name references the W.E.B. Dubois book The Souls of Black Folk. Of the film, Valerius has said, "I think this piece resonates across race and gender because it is a piece that is the voice of the victim and not the voice of the victimizer or spokesman, it’s our hurts, our pains, our insecurities, our story that no one else can tell but us."
The film was well-received, premiering at the 2007 Pan African Film Festival and screening at festivals including the Roxbury Film Festival, the Harlem International Film Festival, and the Martha's Vineyard African American Film Festival, where it was earned the Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary. It was also shown on AOL Black Voices.
After being screened at the National Council of Negro Women and catching the attention of activist Dorothy Height, the film became a large part of the "My Black is Beautiful" tour sponsored by Procter & Gamble.
Valerius has been invited to participate in several panels about the social issues facing women, including a panel at the National Council of Negro Women's gathering in 2008 and a panel at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Annual Leadership Conference in 2016.
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- Aspire TV. "Daphne Valerius". aspire.tv. Retrieved 25 Feb 2017.
- O'Neal Parker, Lonnae (2012-02-27). "Black women heavier and happier with their bodies than white women, poll finds". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-02-25.
- Whitlock, Erin. "The Souls of Black Girls". Clutch Magazine.
- Chase, Nikki. "The Souls of Black Girls: Interview with Daphne Valerius". NewEnglandFilm.com. Retrieved 25 Feb 2017.
- Pratt, Tim (30 Nov 2010). "Filmmaker Valerius Goes to the White House". Emerson College. Retrieved 25 Feb 2017.
- Thompson, Krissah; Williams, Vanessa (2012-01-23). "African American women see their own challenges mirrored in Michelle Obama's". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-02-25.
Daphne Valerius calls Obama a “poster woman.” “For a long time all we had was Oprah,” says Valerius, 30, a filmmaker who has made a documentary exploring whether negative media portrayals are harming the self-image of women of color. She met Obama briefly when her film, “Souls of Black Girls,” got her an invitation to a White House screening of the motion picture “For Colored Girls.”
- Challenges Facing Black Women. C-SPAN. 2008-07-11.
- Owens, Donna M. (2016-09-14). "Congressional Black Caucus Week Kicks Off". Essence. Retrieved 2017-02-25.