Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise Film Clip

Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise is the first documentary about Dr. Maya Angelou. As friends from Dr. Angelou’s inner circle, we have been granted remarkable and unmatched access to Dr. Angelou’s life. After years of working on this film, we are honored to present her incredible journey to the rest of the world.

Dr. Angelou has become a global symbol of peace, humility, and freedom–– but parts of her story are not well known. The Maya Angelou Documentary will reflect on how the events of history, culture, and the arts shaped Dr. Angelou’s life and how she, in turn, helped shape our own worldview through her autobiographical literature and activism. We hope to shed light on the untold aspects of her life and to educate audiences about her story.

Funding provided by:

American Masters • ITVS • The Ford Foundation • National Endowment for the Arts • The IDP Foundation • Steve Sarowitz • The National Black Programming Consortium • Artemis Rising Foundation • Jay Alix & Una Jackman • Michael Metelits • Loida & Leslie Lewis

The Directors

bob_bioCo-Director Bob Hercules is an independent filmmaker whose recent films include Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance and Bill T. Jones: A Good Man.  The Joffrey film, narrated by Mandy Patinkin, tells the full story of the groundbreaking ballet company and their many rises and falls. It premiered in January, 2012 at the Dance on Camera Film Festival at Lincoln Center and aired on PBS’ American Masters December, 2012.   A Good Man aired on American Masters in 2011 and played at many film festivals including IDFA, Silverdocs, Full Frame, DOXA and the Southern Circuit.  Hercules acclaimed Forgiving Dr. Mengele (2005) won the Special Jury Prize at the Slamdance Film Festival and has been seen in film festivals around the world.

rw_bioCo-Director Rita Coburn Whack is an independent filmmaker with Emmy-Award winning documentaries for Curators of Culture, Remembering 47th Street and African Roots American Soil. Other documentaries have aired on C-Span and the History Channel. Under her direction Maya Angelou’s Radio Show for Oprah Radio was awarded the Women in Radio and Television Gracie Awards, “BEST RADIO PROGRAM” 2008, “BEST RADIO HOST” 2009 and the “SILVER WORLD MEDAL” IN RADIO NEW YORK FESTIVAL 2009. Author of the novel Meant to Be (Random House Strivers Row 2002) her company RCW Media Productions, Inc. produced Maya Angelou’s Black History Month Specials distributed by Public Radio International 2011, 2012 and 2013.

The Team


Co-Executive Producer Reuben Cannon was Producer of Down in the Delta directed by Maya Angelou, The Women of Brewster Place (with Oprah Winfrey), and Get on the Bus (Spike Lee). He was also Producer, with Tyler Perry, of Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Madea’s Family Reunion, Why Did I Get Married, Daddy’s Little Girls, Meet The Browns, The Family That Preys, Madea Goes To Jail, and Madea’s Big Happy Family. Reuben was also Executive Producer for the comedy series Tyler Perry’s House of Payne.


Co-Executive Producer Marquetta Glass was a Co-Exective Producer of the Hallmark series Spirit Table with Dr. Maya Angelou, Celebrate Christmas with Maya Angelou, Hallmark Hall of Fame–The Run Away, Olympics-2000, Amazement Awaits. Glass created the 2011 business alliance with BET to produce Soul Mates featuring Maya Angelou & Common.


Michael Kantor joined American Masters as the series’ executive producer in April 2014 during its 28th season on PBS. An Emmy and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker, Kantor has worked on projects for PBS, HBO, Bravo and 20th Century Fox. His PBS series include Broadway: The American Musical (hosted by Julie Andrews), Make ‘Em Laugh (hosted by Billy Crystal) and Superheroes (hosted by Liev Schreiber). He served as executive producer of Give Me the Banjo with Steve Martin, and distributes the American Film Theatre series including Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance, starring Katharine Hepburn, and Chekhov’s Three Sisters with Laurence Olivier. Kantor has co-authored three books, served as a Tony nominator, and teaches producing at the School for Visual Arts in NYC.


Chris Gardner, CEO of Happyness!


Raymond earned writer and producer credits for the award-winning documentary film PHUNNY BUSINESS: A Black Comedy and is currently serving as a executive producer on two new documentary films, Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise and All The Queens Horses with Kartemquin Films. The founder of All Jokes Aside, he has served as a consultant on comedy and talent to producers at NBC, HBO, Comedy Central, B.E.T, Second City, and Just For Laughs Comedy Festival. Raymond recently completed his first book, All Jokes Aside: Stand Up Comedy Is A Phunny Business released by Agate Publishing.

Director of Photography Keith Walker was D.P. of  Mavis! (the Mavis Staples story, HBO 2016), Bill T. Jones: A Good Man, (American Masters), Steve James’ Head Games, and No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson (ESPN 30 for 30), Alex Gibney’s Catching Hell (ESPN’s 30 for 30), and Bob Hercules’ Forgiving Dr. Mengele.  Keith was also the primary D.P. for Oprah Prime (OWN) and has shot for CBS’ 60 Minutes for over 20 years.

Editor David E. Simpson edited Life Itself (the Roger Ebert documentary directed by Steve James) which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.  David also edited Bob Hercules & Gordon Quinn’s Bill T. Jones: A Good Man (American Masters, 2011), Steve James’ Head Games (2012), and Bob Hercules’ Forgiving Dr. Mengele (winner of the Special Jury Prize, Slamdance 2006).

Editor Lillian Benson was one of the original editors of the landmark series Eyes on the Prize.  She has gone onto to edit many award-winning documentaries including Get in the Way: The Journey of John L. Lewis, Wounded Knee (Stanley Nelson) and Great Performances: The Alvin Ailey Dance Company (PBS).

Composer Stephen James Taylor past projects include scoring the documentary Tom Bradley: Bridging the Divide (2015)Southside With You (2015), People Are The Sky(2015), Marvel’s TV Series The Black Panther,  Universal’s The Adventures of Brer Rabbit, Disney’s Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas (for which he won Best Original Score at the 2004 DVDX Awards), Teachers Pet, a Disney animated feature and many of Charles Burnett’s films including To Sleep With Anger and the  blues documentary, Warming By the Devil’s Fire produced by Martin Scorsese, and the 1996 orchestral suite for Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics.  He has received 4 Emmy Nominations.

The Story

MayaAngeloucrew-610 copy

At the time of Maya Angelou’s death, she was participating in the first feature documentary about her life for the American Masters series, Maya Angelou And Still I Rise. Co-directors/producers Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack last interviewed Dr. Angelou (April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014) this past January and production on the film continues. We look forward to her taking her rightful place in the American Masters series, albeit posthumously.

An eloquent poet, writer and performer, Maya Angelou’s life intersected with the civil rights struggle, the Harlem Writers Guild, the New Africa movement, the women’s movement, and the cultural and political realignments of the 1970s and ’80s. Her first book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, catapulted Dr. Angelou onto the literary stage and became an international best-seller. She appeared in numerous documentaries, talk shows and feature films, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, yet shockingly, has never been the subject of her own feature documentary.

Having lived such a rich, passionate life and been a witness, as well as a participant, in some of the most profound periods of the last century, her full biography is extraordinarily rich and varied. Dr. Angelou lived not one life, but half a dozen, and yet parts of her story have fallen into obscurity. Maya Angelou And Still I Rise reflects on how the events of history, culture and the arts shaped her life and how she, in turn, helped shape our own worldview through her autobiographical literature and activism.

The film is a co-production of The People Poet, LLC and ITVS in association with THIRTEEN Productions LLC’s American Masters for WNET, in association with Artemis Rising.

Film Screenings

We can’t tell you how much your vision and encouragement continues to propel this film. In March the documentary was presented in Dr. Angelou’s hometown of St.Louis on two screens with over 750 viewers and more than 2800 requests to attend. In April we visited Sarasota, Ft. Myers where we won Best Documentary and were featured at Full Frame. We then ended April in Dr. Angelou’s Winston-Salem with many of Dr. Angelou’s family, friends and academic community in attendance. Please visit our website photos and follow our Instagram to Facebook and Twitter.

In May and June Bob and I will continue to travel with the film in the U.S. and internationally

May 4 @ 5:30pm

Bentonville Film Festival
Bentonville, Arkansas

May 6/7

May 6 @ 5:45pm

May 7 @ 11:00am

Montclair Film Festival
Montclair, New Jersey

May 8/9 & 15
May 8 @ 5:30pm
(without directors May 15 3:30 p.m)

DOXA Documentary Film Festival
Vancouver, British Columbia

June 2 @ 6:00pm

Illuminate Film Festival
Sedona, Arizona

Rita only

June 5/11

Date & Time TBD plus Master Class

Encounters Film Festival
Capetown, South Africa

Rita Only

June 9 & 10

Seattle International Film Festival

Bob Only

June 12/13
June 12 @ 3:15pm
June 14 @ 8:30pm both with Q&A

Sheffield Doc. Festival
Sheffield, England

Rita Only

June 24/26

AFI American Film Institute Festival
Washington, DC

Rita Only

June 26th

Hay Literary Festival
Kells, Ireland

Bob Only


Dates and Attendance TBD

Aspen Institute
Black Harvest Film Festival

In addition we have hired The Film Collaborative to manage screenings that we are unable to attend such as April’s Bozeman Doc Series and Louisiana International Film Festival.

And here are more upcoming screenings that we are not able to attend.

May 15

Bermuda Film Festival
Hamilton, Bermuda

May 31

Doc Soup Toronto
Toronto, Canada Via Skype

June 3/12

Cinetopia International Film Festival
Detroit, Michigan

June 7

Grand Cinema
Tacoma, Washington

June 10 @ 5:30pm

deadCenter Film Festival
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

If you would like to join us at any of these events please contact us and again, thank you for your support.
Rita and Bob


Sundance Festival International Premiere January 26, 2016

Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise received a standing ovation at the Sundance Film Festival 2016 in Park City, Utah! Our production team, executive producers, friends and family thank you for your support. Keep checking back with us for more festival, community screening information and locations for our upcoming limited theatrical run.

All Photos by Christopher Howard Marquis Studios. All rights reserved.
Please contact us via the contact information for photo permissions.


Interviews & Press Releases


For all inquiries or publicity information, please contact:

Omar Gonzales
Leigh Wolfson