JD Walker is a writer, director, and producer originally from Oakland, California. She is also a member of The Academy of Motion Pictures inaugural #AcademyGold Program, which provides industry wide mentoring, panels, and workshops by Academy members. Walker worked behind the scenes on Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station. Since then, she has written and produced videos as well multinational shows for both Ryan Coogler and Ava DuVernay, starring award winning talent including but not limited to: Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures), Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther), Tessa Thompson (Avengers:End Game), Anika Noni Rose (Half a Yellow Son), Andre Holland (Moonlight), Adepero Odune (12 Years a Slave), and more.
Most recently, Walker has been working as a Director for both multicam and single camera TV. She is winner of The Sundance Film Festival pitching contest about a character-driven feature script that she wrote about Oscar Micheaux, the father of Black cinema, which is currently in Development. While finishing her M.F.A. in TV and Film Production at USC, Walker wrote and directed a short, “Oscar Micheaux”, that screened at The Cannes Film Festival and won “Best Short” at both The African American Film Festival in Portland and The Black Reel Awards. Another short that Walker wrote and directed, “Sandra: Say Her Name” (inspired by the life of Sandra Bland) won “Best Short” at The Central Illinois Feminist Film Festival. At USC, Walker received the George Lucas Family Foundation Scholarship, which assisted in covering her full tuition. While participating in the #AcademyGold program, Walker had the opportunity to work for The Student Academy Awards and Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, reading and analyzing scripts.
Walker continues to write, direct, and produce shorts, TV projects, and features. In addition to her M.F.A. from USC, Walker holds a Ph.D. in English from Howard University that she earned when she was 26 and a B.A. in Drama from San Francisco State. Previously, she has taught filmmaking at Howard University, Santa Clara University, and to high school students throughout Southern California.
JD Walker is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences inaugural #AcademyGold Program. Originally trained as an actress and a journalist, Walker has written, directed, and produced both Feature Films and Shorts. She has also produced multinational shows and content for Ryan Coogler (Black Panther / Creed) and Ava DuVernay (Selma / A Wrinkle in Time) that has subsequently, garnered coverage in Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, and more.
Walker has over 15 years of Film and TV experience; primarily, with original scripted character driven stories. She provided support for a multicamera TV Studio and Control Room, overseeing the production of three weekly shows from story concept to exhibition. She has worked as a consultant and script doctor, polishing scripts, writing coverage, and providing casting support for a vast array of film projects.
Walker won the Sundance Film Festival Pitching Contest for her second feature, a biopic about Oscar Micheaux, the first major Black director to write, direct, and produce feature length films in 1918. Walker's development on her Oscar Micheaux feature film has been chronicled in IndieWire (Shadow and Act), The San Francisco Bayview, and San Francisco Weekly. Her first feature script, "The Postwoman" earned Honorable Mention in the Sundance Table Read My Screenplay Contest.
In her younger years, Walker was labeled a "gifted child" and took Honors classes all throughout elementary, junior, and high school. In high school, she starred in and directed talent shows and won several awards as a writer and an actress. During her junior year in high school, she won the California Forensic Association State Championship in Dramatic Interpretation for her rendition of August Wilson's play, "Fences." In college, she remained on the Honor Roll and Dean's List every semester, having earned her recognition with The Golden Key National Honor Society.
Walker graduated cum laude with a B.A. in Theater Arts from San Francisco State University , where she studied in the Black Studies Department and performed in leading roles with The African American Shakespeare Co. and The San Francisco Mime Troupe. At San Francisco State, Walker received the President's Alumni Scholarship. Walker was also offered a full-ride to Howard University, where she finished both her M.A. and Ph.D. course work (with "distinction") at age 26. While at Howard, Walker self-published two books, worked as a radio host, and wrote cover stories for the Black press. Walker always knew she wanted to write, especially screenplays, and spent much of her time in DC honing her craft, serving, for 7 years, as a freelance journalist, writing feature stories on Black poets and writers while serving as a photojournalist for the The New York Amsterdam News, The Washington Informer, The Tennessee Tribune, and Heart & Soul magazine to name a few.
In 2016, Walker was accepted into USC School of Cinematic Arts and won the prestigious George Lucas Scholarship for her studies in the MFA Program in TV and Film. The scholarship award assisted in covering her full tuition at USC.There, she directed talent in both Multicamera TV productions and wrote and directed a short that made into the Cannes Film Festival. Other shorts directed by Walker premiered at Urban World Film Festival in NYC, the Montreal Black Film Festival, Reel Sistas Film Festival, and more.
An extensive background in publishing and journalism, Walker also served as a book buyer, hosting literary panels for authors. She's also served as a Marketing and Editorial Assistant for a University Press. While in D.C., Walker received scholarship awards for her writing from poets E. Ethelbert Miller and Sonia Sanchez, as well as from Gregory Allen Howard (Ali, Remember the Titans) from whom she took a screenwriting class. She toured with Sonia Sanchez, as her personal assistant, and performed her poetry live at literary conferences. Walker also received a National Visionary Heritage fellowship award from Camille O. Cosby, where she was trained to perform documentary work on historic elders over the age of 70. Walker's work with Cosby is now archived in The Smithsonian and a book called "A Wealth of Wisdom" (Atria Books 2004).
Walker is a member of The Blackout for Human Rights Film Collective and is currently producing nationwide shows for Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station/Creed), filmmaker and co-founder of the collective along with Ava DuVernay (Selma) and more as members. Most recently, Walker produced #MLKNow in Harlem starring Oscar Winner Octavia Spencer (Fruitvale Station/The Help), Tessa Thompson (Selma/Dear White People), Actor and Comedian Chris Rock, Tony Award Winner Anika Noni Rose, Actor Andre Holland, Adepero Odune (Pariah/12 Years a Slave), Actor and Civil Rights icon Harry Belafonte and more. She also co-produced #JusticeforFlint with her outstanding United Blackout team. She wrote and produced scripts as well as short videos for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU): Know Your Rights Mobile Justice app.
Her work has screened at The Grammy Museum in Los Angeles and at numerous film festivals around the country, including but not limited to Frameline, The Queer Women of Color Film Festival, The Boston LGBT Film Festival, Out in Film, The Reel Sistas of the African Diaspora Film Festival, The New York African Diaspora Film Festival, and The African American Film Festival in Portland, Oregon, to name a few, where it won best short. Walker's first short that she wrote, produced, and directed was called "The Postwoman." She later produced "The Young Oscar Micheaux," a short film in advance of her biopic on Oscar Micheaux, which is co-produced by Preston L. Holmes (Birth of a Nation, Malcolm X, Hustle & Flow, Best Man Holiday) and Monica Cooper of Make it Happen Entertainment.
Walker is currently finishing her screenplays. As early as she can remember, Walker has been writing and directing her own shorts. Her love for literature and poetry continued throughout her college years and greatly impacted her storytelling as well as her quest to bring the untold stories of African Americans to the silver screen.