Lexi Alexander

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Lexi Alexander
Born Alexandra Mirai
(1974-08-23) 23 August 1974 (age 43)
Mannheim, West Germany
Nationality Arab-German
Other names Lexi Mirai
Occupation Director
Screenwriter
Years active 2002–present
Website lexi-alexander.com

Alexandra "Lexi" Alexander (née Mirai; Arabic: الكسندرا ميراي‎; born 23 August 1974) is an Oscar-nominated Arab-German film and television director.[1] She is a former World Karate Association world champion in karate-point fighting.[2] Alexander is an advocate for equality in Hollywood[3][4] and speaks out about against gender discrimination and sexism and promotes diversity, including a more positive and visible representation of Arabs.[5][6]

Early life and education[edit]

Alexander was born in Mannheim, Germany, to a German mother and a Palestinian father.[7] She grew up in Mannheim.[8] Alexander's father was born and raised in Ramallah.[9]

Alexander studied acting in Los Angeles at Joanne Baron's acting school learning Meisner technique and with acting coach Piero Dusa. She took extension classes in filmmaking at University of California, Los Angeles.[5]

Career[edit]

Sports[edit]

Alexander began studying martial arts, specifically judo, when she was 8 years old. At 14, she switched to Shotokan karate. She has a third-degree black belt in karate.[2]

Alexander excelled at kickboxing, where after two years in the sport, she joined the German National Team.[10] She won the German point fighting championships four times and the European championships two times.[2]

In 1994, at the age of 19, Alexander became the World Kickboxing Association world champion in karate-point fighting in Atlantic City.[2][6]

Stunt work[edit]

At the age of 19, she retired from professional fighting and moved to the United States. Alexander had met Chuck Norris at a kickboxing event in the United States and she had previously acted in small roles in German TV. Norris encouraged her to come to Hollywood to act and study filmmaking. He was one of her sponsors for immigration.[5]

With the assistance of martial artist Pat Johnson, she landed the part of Kitana in Mortal Kombat: Live Tour, and in 1995 and 1996, spent seven months on tour.[2][11]

Alexander went on to work steadily as a stunt person doing fighting stunts and motorcycles, falls from high-rise buildings, going on to learn precision driving and race car driving.[6][12] She also trained Marines in hand-to-hand combat.[13]

Filmmaking[edit]

The first film Alexander directed was called Johnny Flynton, a short film that was nominated for an Academy Award in 2003.[14] She said that the film, about a boxer from Alabama who is charged with murder, is a fictional story that was inspired by meeting a boxer in Germany when she was 9 years old, an interaction that she remembered and was the basis of the idea for the film.[2] The film was self-financed by Alexander and had a budget of US$35,000 and was filmed in 5 days.[5][15]

In 2005, Alexander directed her first full-length feature film called Green Street, also known as Green Street Hooligans, or Hooligans.[8] The independent film starred Charlie Hunnam as soccer hooligan Pete Dunham, Elijah Wood as Matt Buckner, Claire Forlani as Shannon, Marc Warren as Steve, and Leo Gregory as Bover,[16] and was produced by Gigi Pritzker and Deborah Del Prete.[17]

Green Street Hooligans was inspired by her experience growing up watching her family's favorite German soccer team Waldhof Mannheim, which led to a fascination with the sport and its passionate fans. Inspired by this, Alexander co-wrote a screenplay with a former soccer hooligan turned writer, Dougie Brimson, and Joshua Shelov based on a story by Alexander and Brimson about the firm of West Ham United.[8]

Released in 2005, Green Street Hooligans was only the second in the history of the South by Southwest festival to win both the Jury Award for Best Narrative Feature and Audience Award for Narrative Feature, after Alex Holdridge's Sexless in 2003.[18][19]

In 2008, Alexander directed the film Punisher: War Zone starring Ray Stevenson as the Punisher.[20] She was the first woman to direct a Marvel adaptation and it was her first studio film.[5] At the time of its release, the film was considered a commercial and critical failure.[21][22] The film has since become considered a cult classic.[5][23][24] Comedian Patton Oswalt was an early and vocal defender of the film.[5][25][26]

Alexander has been outspoken about her experience with Punisher. The film's budget shrank considerably, and Alexander wanted to work on a studio film so she said she was hired at a low rate. Then, during marketing, that budget was also low, and, in her opinion, the Christmas release date a mis-step.[3][4][27]

In 2011, Alexander wrote and directed the straight-to-video film Lifted, shot in Alabama, which had themes of Christianity. The film was the debut of Uriah Shelton, and starred Dash Mihok and Nicki Aycox. Lifted tells the story of a son's difficulty with his father's deployment in Afghanistan as a Marine, and features musical performances by Shelton and Mihok.[28]

In 2012, Alexander directed an episode for Anthony Zuiker's BlackBoxTV YouTube channel entitled "Execution Style."[6]

In 2014, the higher profile Alexander received from her advocacy work speaking out about gender parity in Hollywood on Twitter led to Alexander getting hired to direct episodic television.[5][15] In 2015, Alexander directed an episode of the TV series, Arrow, called "Beyond Redemption." In 2016, she directed an episode of the TV series, Supergirl, called "Truth, Justice and the American Way," In 2016, Alexander also directed an episode of the TV series Limitless called "A Dog's Breakfast." In 2017, she directed an episode of the TV show Taken called "Hail Mary."[5]

In 2016, it was reported that she would be directing a biopic called Crossface about the life of Canadian professional wrestler Chris Benoit, who it turned out suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), and his 2007 double-murder and suicide.[29] Crossface, which will be written by Jake Goldberger and Sarah Coulter, is based on Matthew Randazzo V's book, Ring of Hell: The Story of Chris Benoit & the Fall of the Pro Wrestling Industry. The title is a reference to Benoit’s well-known "crippler crossface" wrestling hold.[30] Crossface was the first feature film Alexander directed in seven years, not since 2011's Lifted.[5]

In February 2018, it was announced that Alexander was working on a TV series for Blumhouse Productions called You Bury Me.[31] The series was brought to Blumhouse by Scott Derrickson (Doctor Strange, Snowpiercer), who will executive produce. You Bury Me is set in Iraq, Syria, and Turkey, and will be a love story in contemporary war-torn Middle East.[32]

In June 2018, Alexander was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.[1]

Alexander has a long-term working relationship with martial artist Pat Johnson, who she has hired as a stunt coordinator and choreographer since starting her directing her career.[11] Alexander is a fan of film director Euzhan Palcy.[33]

Advocacy[edit]

In early 2014, on her Twitter feed and in a blog post that was republished[34] and widely discussed,[35][36] Alexander discussed the lack of women directors in Hollywood and lifted back the curtain on the lack of gender parity in the entertainment industry.[5][37] Alexander has been outspoken on Hollywood sexism and has spoken at length about the directorial opportunities she says were denied to her because of her gender.[38][39] In a 2014 interview she stated that she and director Catherine Hardwicke were denied a meeting to discuss possibly directing The Fighter, as the producers were not interested in hiring a woman to direct.[40]

Alexander worked to support the American Civil Liberties Union investigation into gender bias in hiring practices, specifically for women directors, which cast a critical eye on the role of the Directors Guild of America.[38][39][41][42] Film school graduates have gender parity, but once in the industry, the percentage of women hired ranges from 8% in 2017 to less than 6%.[40][43][44] In 2015, Alexander testified about her experiences as part of an investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on hiring practices in Hollywood.[45]

Alexander has said she is against illegal file sharing but instead supports innovative file sharing over big businesses exploiting digital distribution models.[40][39] Alexander has condemned the anti-piracy actions of the litigation and lobbying focused Hollywood entertainment industry especially regarding geoblocking, saying that "as a German living in the US it's difficult to get German news, and while in Germany it's difficult to get US shows." She said she approves of neither the millions Hollywood spends on anti-piracy efforts nor the wealth of Kim Dotcom "lining his own pockets".[40][46] Alexander thinks the money used by the MPAA would be better spent improving diversity and more equitable distribution models.[39] She does, however support Peter Sunde in relation to The Pirate Bay trial and fair use.[27][46][47]

Personal life[edit]

As a teenager, Alexander was a member of Mannheim City Boys, a soccer hooligan group, which was part of the inspiration for Green Street Hooligans.[8][17][48]

Alexander has metal screws in her knees from her time as a kickboxer.[10][49]

As of 2017, Alexander has been practicing the Russian martial arts technique called Systema.[5][45]

Selected awards[edit]

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Director Writer Producer Actor Notes
1997 Boy Meets World No No No Yes Role: Sonja; Episode: "Last Tango in Philly"
Executive Target No No No No Production assistant (as Lexi Mirai)
2001 Pitcher Perfect Yes No No No Short
2002 Fool Proof Yes No No No Short
Johnny Flynton Yes Yes No No Short
2005 Green Street Hooligans Yes Yes Executive No
Wheelman No No Yes No
2008 Punisher: War Zone Yes No No No
2009 Green Street Hooligans 2 No Characters Executive No Straight-to-Video
2010 Lifted Yes Yes No Yes also – Role: Afghan Woman
2012 BlackBoxTV Yes No No No Episode: "AEZP: Execution Style"
2015 Arrow Yes No No No Episode: "Beyond Redemption"
2016 Supergirl Yes No No No Episode: "Truth, Justice and the American Way"
Limitless Yes No No No Episode: "A Dog's Breakfast"
American Gothic Yes No No No Episode: "Kindred Spirits"
2017 Taken Yes No No No Episode: "Hail Mary"
How to Get Away with Murder Yes No No No Episode: "I Love Her"
2018 You Bury Me No Yes Executive No Blumhouse Productions TV series
TBD Crossface Yes No No No

Stunt work[edit]

Selected writing[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Bernardin, Marc (29 June 2018). "New film academy invitee Arab-German director Lexi Alexander: 'I cried a few tears'". Los Angeles Times. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Fogan, Sara (June 2003). "Black Belt Times: Former Karate Champ Fails To Bag Academy Award". Black Belt. 41 (6): 22, 52, 54. 
  3. ^ a b Gilchrist, Todd (2 May 2014). "'Punisher: War Zone's' Lexi Alexander on Challenges Faced By Female Directors – Part 1 of 2". CBR. 
  4. ^ a b Gilchrist, Todd (5 May 2014). "Lexi Alexander on 'Punisher: War Zone,' and Changing Hollywood's Old Ways – Part 2 of 2". CBR. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Raftery, Brian (1 August 2017). "Virtuoso Action Director Lexi Alexander Fights Back Against Hollywood". Wired. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Lexi Alexander: from karate champion to Hollywood" (Audio interview). BBC World Service. 15 August 2017. 
  7. ^ Theodore, ReBecca (28 October 2015). "Lexi Alexander on Why More Women Aren't Directing Superhero Franchises". Vulture. New York. 
  8. ^ a b c d Buckley, Will (17 September 2005). "Football: The director addicted to hooligans". The Guardian. 
  9. ^ Lexi Alexander [@LexiAlex] (1 March 2016). "My father was born and raised in Ramallah..." (Tweet) – via Twitter. 
  10. ^ a b Quint (4 April 2005). "Quint chats with Elijah Wood, Charlie Hunnam, Claire Forlani and a few other HOOLIGANS!!". Ain't It Cool News. 
  11. ^ a b Malicki-Sánchez, Keram; Alexander, Lexi (15 November 2008). "Interview with Director Lexi Alexander" (MP3 audio podcast interview). KeramCast (9). 
  12. ^ Paynter, Ben (7 November 2014). "Why Falling Down Stairs In Your Underwear Is Solid Prep For Being A Female Director". Fast Company. 
  13. ^ a b McBride, Blaine G. (1994). "Meritorious Service Award for Outstanding Service and Exemplary Performance of Duty" (Award letter). United States Marine Corps. 
  14. ^ "Oscar Films; Forecasts and Favorites: the Critics Weigh In". The New York Times. 9 March 2003. 
  15. ^ a b Champagne, Christine (19 May 2016). "Checks and Balances: Success in film does not guarantee success in TV". Emmy Magazine. 
  16. ^ Dargis, Manohla (9 September 2005). "Lads Who Love Being Thugs and the Lads Who Love Them". The New York Times. 
  17. ^ a b Moerk, Christian (4 September 2005). "Director/Hooligan". The New York Times. 
  18. ^ a b c Ankrum, Nora (18 March 2005). "SXSW Film Reviews: Hooligans". The Austin Chronicle. 
  19. ^ a b c Jones, Preston (2005). "SXSW Film 2005" (press release). DVD Talk. 
  20. ^ Sacks, Ethan (5 December 2008). "'Punisher: War Zone's' secret weapon: Director Lexi Alexander". New York Daily News. 
  21. ^ Punisher: War Zone at Box Office Mojo
  22. ^ "Punisher: War Zone (2008)". Rotten Tomatoes. 
  23. ^ Rabin, Nathan (13 October 2015). "Why Punisher: War Zone Deserves Cult Status". Rotten Tomatoes. 
  24. ^ "In Defense Of: Punisher: War Zone". Filmbagger. 10 March 2013. 
  25. ^ Scheer, Paul; Raphael, June Diane; Alexander, Lexi; Oswalt, Patton (3 October 2011). "Episode #20 – Punisher: War Zone" (Audio podcast interview). How Did This Get Made? (20). Earwolf. (Subscription required (help)). 
  26. ^ Brevet, Brad (3 October 2011). "Five Things I Learned While Listening to Lexi Alexander Talk 'Punisher: War Zone' with Paul Scheer and Patton Oswalt". ComingSoon.net. 
  27. ^ a b Ulaby, Neda (26 May 2016). "Kickboxing Director Lexi Alexander Uses Activism To Bust Out Of 'Movie Jail'" (Includes audio interview). All Things Considered. NPR. 
  28. ^ Carlton, Bob (26 September 2010). "Made-in-Birmingham film 'Lifted' gets enthusiastic response in Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival debut". The Birmingham News. AL.com. 
  29. ^ Csonka, Larry (7 September 2016). "Various News: The Chris Benoit Biopic Gets a Director, New Rock Q&A Video". 411MANIA. 
  30. ^ McNary, Dave (9 September 2016). "'Punisher: War Zone' Director Lexi Alexander Boards Chris Benoit Biopic 'Crossface'". Variety. 
  31. ^ Jasper, Marykate (4 February 2018). "Production Company Behind Get Out Developing TV Series from Lexi Alexander". The Mary Sue. 
  32. ^ Holloway, Daniel (1 February 2018). "Blumhouse TV Developing Drama 'You Bury Me' With Scott Derrickson, Lexi Alexander (Exclusive)". Variety. 
  33. ^ Zachariah, Lee; Nelson, Paul Anthony; Alexander, Lexi (31 July 2014). "Hell Is For Hyphenates – July 2014" (Audio podcast interview; starts at 13:33). Hell Is For Hyphenates (50). 
  34. ^ Alexander, Lexi (14 January 2014). "An Oscar-Nominated Director Gets Real About How Women Are Treated in Hollywood". IndieWire. 
  35. ^ Kang, Inkoo (11 February 2014). "Athena FF: Lexi Alexander Proposes a Solution to Hollywood's Woman Director Problem". IndieWire. 
  36. ^ Carlson, Erin (8 May 2015). "Outrageous sexism in Hollywood exposed in new blog". Fortune. 
  37. ^ Humanick, Robert (7 October 2015). "Pushing You Into Traffic: A Discussion with Lexi Alexander". RogerEbert.com. 
  38. ^ a b Ogilvie, Jessica P. (29 April 2015). "How Hollywood Keeps Out Women". LA Weekly. 
  39. ^ a b c d Baker-Whitelaw, Gavia (7 June 2015). "Director Lexi Alexander dismantles Hollywood's persistent sexism". The Kernel. 
  40. ^ a b c d Alexander, Lexi; Harloff, Kristian; Ellis, Mark; Smith, Tiffany; Hall, Cody (20 November 2014). "#173: Lexi Alexander Talks Women in Film, Movie Piracy, the Wonder Woman Film, Star Wars, and more!" (Includes video interview, starts at 30:35). The Schmoes Know Movie Show. 
  41. ^ Khatchatourian, Maane (12 May 2015). "Hollywood's 'Biased' Hiring Practices Against Women Subject of ACLU Inquiry". Variety. 
  42. ^ Daunt, Tina (21 May 2015). "ACLU Launches Petition on Gender Bias in Directing". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  43. ^ "Statistics". Women and Hollywood. 2017. Retrieved 3 July 2018. 
  44. ^ Kiang, Jessica (24 September 2014). "10 Female Directors Who Deserve More Attention From Hollywood". IndieWire. 
  45. ^ a b Alexander, Lexi (4 January 2016). "Crosspost: The Difficulties of Juggling Diversity Activism and a Directing Career in Hollywood". IndieWire. 
  46. ^ a b Gibbs, Samuel (10 July 2014). "Hollywood director: piracy is necessary, and doesn't hurt revenues". The Guardian. 
  47. ^ Ernesto (18 November 2014). "Why Hollywood Director Lexi Alexander Sides With "Pirates"". TorrentFreak. 
  48. ^ Applebaum, Stephen (2 December 2005). "Lexi Alexander: My hooligan years". The Independent. 
  49. ^ Alexander, Lexi (2 June 2012). "Lexi Alexander Interview" (Video interview). AC News: Movie Reviews and Interviews presented by Valery. 
  50. ^ "Oscars: Academy Award Database: 2002 (75th)". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 2002. Short Film (Live Action) ... Johnny Flynton -- Lexi Alexander, Alexander Buono 

External links[edit]