Janicza Bravo

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Janicza Bravo
Janicza Michelle Bravo Ford

Alma materNew York University
  • Film director
  • film producer
  • screenwriter
Years active2010–present
Notable workGregory Go Boom (2013)

Lemon (2017)

Zola (2021)
(m. 2015; div. 2018)

Janicza Michelle Bravo Ford (/əˈnɪksə/;[1]) is an American film director, film producer, and screenwriter.[2][3] Her films include Gregory Go Boom, a winner of the short-film jury award at the Sundance Film Festival; Lemon, co-written with Brett Gelman; and Zola, co-written with playwright Jeremy O. Harris.

Early life and education[edit]

Bravo was born in New York City, the daughter of Ana María Ford and Rafael Ángel Landers.[4] Her parents, who are tailors, are both from Colón, Panama.[5] Her mother enlisted in the U.S. military when Bravo was an infant.[5] From the time she was three months old to a teenager, she grew up between Colón and an Army base in Panama City, Panama,[5] until her family moved back to the United States.[2] She spent time going back and forth between the United States and Panama throughout her childhood.[6] When she was 12, her family moved to Crown Heights, Brooklyn.[5]

Bravo attended the Playwrights Horizons Theater School of the New York University Tisch School of the Arts,[5] where she majored in directing and design for theater, which included costume and set design.[7][8][2]

Several years after college, she moved to Los Angeles, worked as a stylist and produced small theater productions before she was approached by a cinematographer who offered assistance with filmmaking.[5]


After graduating from college Bravo worked as a stylist and wardrobe designer.[2]

Bravo got her start writing and directing a series of short films. Her first film, Eat, starred Katherine Waterston and Brett Gelman[5] and debuted at the 2011 SXSW Film Festival and was picked up by Vice. The film told the story of a woman who is locked out of her apartment and meets an odd neighbor.[9][10]

Her second film, the 2013 dark comedy named Gregory Go Boom, won the short-film jury award at the Sundance Film Festival[5] and featured Michael Cera as a paraplegic who lives near the Salton Sea. The film was shot on location in Bombay Beach and Slab City, California.[6] Bravo worked with JASH to produce and release the film online.[8][11] The film's title was inspired by the 1976 François Truffaut film, Small Change, where the boy falls out the window yet survives.[6]

Her third short film, 2014's Pauline Alone, features Gaby Hoffmann as a Craigslist-obsessed woman.[2][12] In 2014, she was named one of Filmmaker magazine's "25 New Faces of Independent Film".[2]

In 2015, Bravo shot a featurette on Victoria Beckham for Glamour's 25th Anniversary Women of the Year Awards called "Victoria Beckham Is Living a Life Filled with Style and Grace".[13][14]

In 2016, Bravo released the short film, Hard World for Small Things, a live-action virtual reality film that was a "day in the life" depiction of South Central. The project was grant funded by Eve Cohen and James Kaelan of Seed and Spark.[15] The film was inspired by the death of a cousin, visiting from Panama, who in the summer of 1999 was asphyxiated by the police in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn is a case of mistaken identity.[16] It was shot using GoPro cameras for the virtual reality company Wevr, and was shown at the Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, and the AFI Festival Los Angeles.[17][18] The title of the film was inspired by a line of dialog in the 1955 film noir film, The Night of the Hunter,[3] and marked a distinct departure in theme, as it focused on race and politics.[18]

Also in 2016, Bravo took the short, Woman in Deep, to the 2016 SXSW Film Festival. The film stars Alison Pill and was grant-funded via The Nantucket Project.[16]

In 2016, Bravo directed her first feature, an independent film called Lemon, which she co-wrote with then-husband Brett Gelman.[5][19] The film stars Gelman, Michael Cera, and Judy Greer, and includes performances by Nia Long, Fred Melamed, Shiri Appleby, Rhea Perlman, David Paymer, Gillian Jacobs, Megan Mullally, Martin Starr, Jeff Garlin, and Marla Gibbs. After a somewhat turbulent pre-production process, the film was picked up by Killer Films and Burn Later Productions and premiered at Sundance in 2017.[20]

In addition to creating her own work, Bravo directed season 1 episode 9, "Juneteenth", of the FX television show Atlanta, which stars and was created by Donald Glover, as well as season 3 episode 5, "Bertie's Birthday", of the Netflix television show Love, which was created by and stars Paul Rust.[21]

Bravo's latest film, Zola, was directed and co-written by Bravo, along with playwright Jeremy O. Harris.[22] The film is based on a 148-tweet thread by Detroit waitress Aziah "Zola" Wells about a trip she took to Florida with a sex worker named Jessica.[5][23] Zola had its world premiere at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Grand Jury Award.[24]

In 2022, Bravo was one of nine directors commissioned to design a series of rooms at the Metropolitan Museum Of Art for the exhibition In America: An Anthology of Fashion.[25][26]

Personal life[edit]

Bravo speaks Spanish fluently and is Latina,[6][27] as well as Jewish.[5]

In December 2015, Bravo married her long-time boyfriend, actor Brett Gelman.[2][28] Gelman and Bravo met in New York City while working on a New York Lotto commercial.[29] In 2016, they resided in Los Angeles.[18] They divorced in 2018.[30]



  • 2011: Eat (Short) – writer, director, editor[9]
  • 2013: Gregory Go Boom (Short) – producer, writer, director, editor[11]
  • 2014: Pauline Alone (Short) – producer, writer, director, editor[12]
  • 2015: Woman of the Year (Short) – director
  • 2015: Hot Package (TV series) – writer, 5 episodes
  • 2016: Hard World for Small Things (Short) – producer, writer, director[17]
  • 2016: Woman in Deep (Short) – producer, writer, director
  • 2016: Man Rots From the Head (Short) – producer, writer, director
  • 2016: The New Yorker presents: Couple's First Dinner Party, Serves Six (Short) – director, writer[33]
  • 2016: Atlanta (TV series) – director, 1 episode: "Juneteenth"
  • 2017: Lemon – producer, writer, director
  • 2017: Hell In The Afternoon (Short) – producer, writer, director
  • 2018: Forever (TV series) – director
  • 2020: Zola – writer, director
  • 2020: Mrs. America (TV series) - Director
  • 2021: In Treatment (TV series) - Director
  • 2021: Them (TV series) - Director
  • 2022: Kindred (TV series) - Director
  • 2022: Miu Miu Women's Tales: House Comes With a Bird (Short) – director, writer


  1. ^ "It Only Matters To Me with Janicza Bravo & Joi McMillon". The A24 Podcast. A24. September 23, 2020. Retrieved April 1, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Rizov, Vadim (2014). "25 New Faces of Independent Film: Janicza Bravo". Filmmaker Magazine.
  3. ^ a b Marantz, Andrew (25 April 2016). "Studio 360: The pioneers who are making the first virtual-reality narratives". The New Yorker.
  4. ^ Bravo, Janicza (16 June 2008). "young gifted and black : my world is on a string". young gifted and black.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Wortham, Jenna (June 17, 2021). "How She Transformed a Viral Twitter Thread About Sex Work Into a Sinister Comedy". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 18 June 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d Goode, Laura (2015). "Mercy. Danger. Style. Absurdity. Janicza Bravo brings her art of discomfort to Virtual Reality". Bright Ideas. Archived from the original on 23 February 2016.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  7. ^ Thompson, Felix (19 January 2014). "Janicza Bravo - My First Shoot". My First Shoot.
  8. ^ a b Bougadellis, Natalia (1 March 2014). "The Q&A before the Q&A: A Talk with NYU-Alum Janicza Bravo, Writer/Director of Gregory Go Boom". Fusion Film Festival.
  9. ^ a b "VICE Shorts: 'Eat!' by Janicza Bravo" (Video). VICE. 3 September 2013.
  10. ^ "An Interview with Janicza Bravo and Brett Gelman About 'Eat!' - VICE" (Video). VICE. 3 September 2013.
  11. ^ a b Castoro, Rocco (23 May 2013). "A Chat with Janicza Bravo (and Brett Gelman) About Her New Short Starring Michael Cera in a Wheelchair - VICE". VICE.
  12. ^ a b "Nowness Shorts: Pauline Alone". Nowness. 2014.
  13. ^ "On Working With Victoria Beckham: Filmmaker Janicza Bravo" (Video). Glamour. 9 November 2015.
  14. ^ "Strong, Elegant, and Quite Sure: Victoria Beckham by Filmmaker Janicza Bravo". Glamour. 9 November 2015.
  15. ^ Weisenstein, Kara (28 April 2016). "Police Brutality in VR Proves It's a 'Hard World for Small Things'". The Creators Project.
  16. ^ a b Harris, Jeremy O. (27 April 2016). "Tribeca 2016 Interview: Janicza Bravo Talks Hard World For Small Things, As Her Big World Gets Bigger With VR". ScreenAnarchy.
  17. ^ a b "Hard World for Small Things". Kaleidoscope VR. 2016.
  18. ^ a b c Gills, Melina (23 March 2016). "Hard World For Small Things Creator Janicza Bravo Tackles Police Brutality Through VR". Tribeca Film Festival.
  19. ^ Hipes, Patrick (17 August 2016). "Brett Gelman-Starring Indie 'Lemon' Wraps; Janicza Bravo's Feature Directorial Debut". Deadline Hollywood.
  20. ^ McNary, Dave (17 August 2016). "Michael Cera, Brett Gelman Starring in Dark Comedy 'Lemon'". Variety.
  21. ^ Maloney, Darby (1 November 2016). "From VR to 'Atlanta': Director Janicza Bravo is on the rise" (Includes audio interview). Southern California Public Radio.
  22. ^ Hornaday, Ann (July 3, 2021). "'Female agency' is Hollywood's latest catchphrase. 'Zola' takes it further". The Washington Post. Retrieved 4 July 2021.
  23. ^ Horton, Adrian (July 2, 2021). "The problem with Zola: can a viral tweet thread become a vital movie?". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 July 2021.
  24. ^ Piya Sinha-Roy (25 January 2020). "'Zola' Director Janicza Bravo Discusses Making "Stressful Comedy" at Sundance". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 23 November 2020.
  25. ^ "Janicza Bravo on the Story Behind Her Rooms at This Year's Met Exhibition". Vogue. 2022-04-29. Retrieved 2022-05-09.
  26. ^ "How 9 Directors Are Transforming the Met's Period Rooms for "In America: An Anthology of Fashion"". Vogue. 2022-04-14. Retrieved 2022-05-09.
  27. ^ Maron, Marc (9 August 2012). "Episode 303 - Brett Gelman" (Podcast). WTF with Marc Maron Podcast.
  28. ^ "Brett Janicza Wedding Ceremony at Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapels in The Main Chapel". Viva Las Vegas Weddings. 22 December 2015. Archived from the original on 26 December 2016.
  29. ^ "Brett Gelman is Here to Change You! • /r/IAmA". Reddit. 13 February 2015.
  30. ^ Evans, Jonathan (15 October 2019). "Brett Gelman Wants Men to Be Better—and Dress Better, Too". Esquire.
  31. ^ Patten, Dominic; Yamato, Jen (26 January 2014). "Sundance Awards: 'Whiplash' & 'Rich Hill' Win Grand Jury Prizes; Dramatic Directing Goes To Cutter Hodierne For 'Fishing Without Nets'". Deadline Hollywood.
  32. ^ Eidelstein, Eric (22 January 2014). "Sundance Institute Announces 2014 Short Film Award Winners | IndieWire". IndieWire.
  33. ^ "The New Yorker Presents Season 01 Episode 05: The Food Episode". The New Yorker. 31 March 2016.

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