Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Madison D. Lacy has had a career that he says "feels like I've made a full circle." After graduating from Washington State University with a degree in music and film in 1967 (receiving the Edward R. Murrow Award, the university's top TV and film prize for a graduating senior), he found filmmaking opportunities limited for African Americans and decided to pursue a career in television management as a programmer. After military service, Lacy held numerous positions in television programming during the 1970s, first at PBS and then at WGBH-TV, Boston, as Executive Producer of Cultural Affairs Programming. In the 1980s, Lacy helped rebuild WNYC-TV in New York City as its VP of Programming and General Manager, creating more than 15 new television series. He also acted as the executive producer for PARIS IS BURNING, a feature-length documentary by Jenny Livingston, co-produced by WNYC-TV and the BBC.

In 1989, Henry Hampton, executive producer of Boston's Blackside Productions, asked Lacy to produce two films for the series EYES ON THE PRIZE II. The first, "The Time Has Come," won an Emmy and, Lacy says, "launched me on my second career." "Since then I've felt like a young filmmaker -- excited and in love with filmmaking and storytelling!"

After EYES ON THE PRIZE, Lacy's projects included everything from long-form public television documentaries to short films and videos for museums. In 1992, he produced "Your Loan is Denied" for PBS' FRONTLINE series and THE WHOLE WORLD IS WATCHING for the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. During the mid-1990s, he devoted two years to developing and producing the first documentary biography of the African-American writer Richard Wright. Titled RICHARD WRIGHT -- BLACK BOY, this 90-minute film won Lacy his second Emmy in 1995. In 1996, he completed an assignment in Ghana, South Africa, and Eritrea as senior producer for Blackside on the pilot film HOPES ON THE HORIZON, a social history of contemporary Africa.

Ken Burns' film series JAZZ and "Free To Dance" have consumed his time and became the center of his universe in 1996. "Free To Dance," a three-hour GREAT PERFORMANCES series on "the African-American tradition in modern dance," has been acclaimed at several film festivals, including the Margaret Mead Film and Video Festival, Atlanta's Black Arts Festival, Montreal's International Festival of Film on Art, and Los Angeles' Pan African Film Festival, acquiring a reputation before its airing as an "audience favorite." Lacy's went on to direct a biography of Hattie McDaniel, the first African-American actor to win an Academy Award. Titled BEYOND TARA: THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE OF HATTIE MCDANIEL.