Doc On Black Supermodel Donyale Luna Coming From HBO Documentary Films – Deadline

EXCLUSIVE: HBO Documentary Films is launching a documentary about pioneering supermodel Donyale Luna, one of the first black models to appear on the covers of major European fashion magazines.

Naila Jefferson (Evanescent Pearls: The Oystercatchers of Pointe à la Hache), is directing the film, in collaboration with Oscar- and Emmy-winning Lightbox (HBO’s Tina and Whitney, THE 92), and Jeff Friday Media (HBO’s Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn).

Luna was born Peggy Anne Freeman in Detroit in 1945 and started going by the name Donyale Luna in her late teens as she launched her modeling career. In March 1966, she became the first color model to grace the cover of the UK edition of vogue (wearing a Chloé dress and photographed by David Bailey). She also appeared on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar and other leading fashion publications. Richard Avedon and William Claxton are among the greats who photographed it. On the catwalk, she has modeled for Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino and Paco Rabanne, among others.

“It is a dream to tell the story of Donyale Luna – an iconic woman whose legacy and magic are worth celebrating,” Jefferson said in a statement. “The historical contributions of black women have often been overlooked and distorted. I am honored to have the opportunity to elevate Donyale’s story and finally celebrate his genius.

Babou, Salvador Dali’s ocelot, bites Donyale Luna’s nose, New York, December 23, 1966
AP Photo/Dan Grossi

In addition to her modeling work, Luna teamed up with Andy Warhol’s factory and appeared in his 1964 film. Camp. She also played roles in movies Fellini’s Satyricon (1969), and Salome (1972). Luna met surrealist artist Salvador Dalí in Europe and he soon declared her to be one of his muses.

“Donyale Luna has opened doors for other color models in an industry that has largely excluded them,” noted Lightbox co-founders Simon Chinn and Jonathan Chinn. “We are thrilled to partner with Nailah to bring a fresh perspective on an enigmatic figure.”

The Donyale Luna documentary “is the second project in the initiative jointly created by Lightbox and the American Black Film Festival to foster diversity in documentary filmmaking and discover and support emerging African-American filmmaking talent,” according to a statement. “It follows the critically acclaimed HBO documentary Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyndirected by Muta’Ali Muhammad. [This year] marks the 25the anniversary of HBO’s partnership and sponsorship with the American Black Film Festival.

Jeff Friday, CEO of Jeff Friday Media and Founder of ABFF, said, “We are very excited to continue this partnership with Lightbox and HBO Documentary Films. It gives newcomers access and the ability to share their stories with the world. »

Model Donyale Luna with Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones in 1966

Donyale Luna with former Rolling Stones musician Brian Jones in London in 1968
AP Photo

Luna died of a drug overdose in 1979 at the age of 33, leaving behind her husband, Italian photographer Luigi Cazzaniga and an 18-month-old daughter, Dream Cazzaniga.

“My father and I are proud and eager to share Donyale’s inspiring and authentic journey,” Dream Cazzaniga said in a statement, “as well as what his forward-thinking spirit meant to the world.”

In a 2019 tribute to his mother in the pages of vogueDream Cazzaniga wrote, “[E]Although I only have a few hazy memories of my mother, I feel her presence with me – and within me – more strongly every day. As a girl from rural Italy, I never fully appreciated the cultural heritage she left me. It wasn’t until my early twenties that I started to look deeper and ask more questions about his life – and the stories were even more remarkable than I could have imagined.

No target release date for the film has been announced. The documentary is an HBO Documentary Films and Lightbox production in association with Jeff Friday Media and the American Black Film Festival. It is directed by Nailah Jefferson, produced by Melissa Kramer and Isoul Hussein Harris, and co-produced by Melanie Sharee. Executive producers are Jonathan Chinn, Simon Chinn and Jeff Friday.

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