Director | Writer | Producer | Actress
A consummate artist, Adetoro Makinde is an award-winning filmmaker and graduate of Georgetown University and the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C. Despite being a homeless high school student, she received the Presidential Academic Fitness Award, by then President Ronald Reagan, in recognition of her extraordinary effort to achieve academic excellence. She began her creative path as a classical vocalist before transitioning to acting, where her performances have since received reviews of “excellent” and “compelling” by The New York Times and The Washington Post, respectively. A founding member of the Tupu Kweli Theater Company in New York, in 2000 she launched the production company BACKDOOR FILMS to create diverse narratives and opportunities for marginalized artists.
By it's second year, she burst onto the scene with her award-winning film WHOA. Selected to the 2002 Sundance Film Festival, it was acquired for distribution by Hypnotic, the then leading global distributors of short films, and screened on the Showtime Network. Its multiple success led to an invitation to Universal Studios' Chrysler Extreme Filmmaking Challenge where she cast, shot, edit and premiered the short COP BLOCK in ten days during the Cannes Film Festival. A subsequent invitation to the Fox Searchlight's Filmmaker Searchlab program, produced the short, 3 MINUTES. She returned to the Sundance Film Festival in 2005 to premiere
another award-winning short, IN TIME, once again wearing multiple hats as actress, director, writer, and producer. The film screened at over 50 venues world-wide including the American Black Film Festival and was acquired by HBO Network. Other Backdoor Film productions include the award-winning, IT TAKES A VILLAGE (New York winner - Chase Legacy Film Challenge co-sponsored by HBO, Kodak, Chase Bank and Blackfilm.com) and THE QUESTION co-directed with Academy-nominated director Bennett Miller.
Beyond Backdoor Films, Adetoro previously worked in Business Affairs at Paramount Studios and has collaborated on other projects, including the much buzzed about premiere of A GOOD DAY TO BE BLACK & SEXY where she served as Co-Producer and Casting Director. The film premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and was subsequently distributed by Magnolia Pictures after a limited theatrical release. The film was the catalyst for the award-winning web channel BLACKandSEXY.tv. With several film projects in her development pipeline, other noteworthy projects produced include: Producer (U.S.) for the Shell Oil Company produced documentary short, LIFE CALLS FOR ATTITUDE ; Impact Producer (South Africa) on the Emmy and Golden Globe nominated feature "The Tale"; Line Producer on the Leonard DiCaprio and Netflix produced documentary STRUGGLE: THE LIFE AND LOST ART OF SZUKALSKI. Currently, Adetoro is producing the food justice documentary ROOTED, as well her feature directorial debut on the Hurricane Katrina biopic, THE AMERICAN CAN, previously optioned by Sony Pictures, as a star vehicle for Will Smith.
She is Co-founder and President of the collective Women Independent Producers (WIP), the former Chair of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiatives for Film Fatales and a member of IFP, WGA SAG-AFTRA, AEA and PGA (eligible). Adetoro has a deep commitment to empowering through the arts and was an educator at the prestigious New York University program Creative Arts Team, using the power of drama to inspire youth to learn. Among her numerous honors includes: 2020 Blackhouse Foundation Multicultural Producers Lab, 2018 Made in NY Fellow and 2019 Made in NY Mentor by the New York Mayor's Office of Media & Entertainment, 2006 Film independent’s Project Involve Fellowship, 2012 Cannes Film Festival Producers Network, Kodak Sundance Filmmaker Fellow, and the New York winner of Chase Legacy Film Challenge, co‐sponsored by HBO, Kodak, and Blackfilm.com. She has received grants from the New York State Council of the Art (NYSCA), Ford Foundation and HBO Networks' Corporate Affairs and Social Responsibility.
As a speaker and panelist, Adetoro has presented at the American Pavilion @Cannes Film Festival sponsored by SAGIndie, The Blackhouse Foundation @Sundance, Fusion Film Festival @NYU, Black Portraiture III Conference: Johannesburg held in collaboration with the U. S. Department of State, Goodman Gallery, Hutchins Center for African & African American Research/Harvard University, New York University’s LaPietra Dialogues, Tisch School of the Arts and the Institute of African American Affairs to name a few. She delivered the 2018 keynote address at Georgetown University, Harambee Commencement Ceremony for graduating students of the African Diaspora.
Adetoro continues to amplify marginalized, dynamic voices as an Impact Producer through her U.S.| Pan African company, HYPHENATE AFRICA to redefine the African narrative while creating inclusive opportunities for women and people of color. Through this initiative she premiered and led the social impact tour of the acclaimed HBO film THE TALE in South Africa. Her commitment to empowering through the arts, launched the Hyphenate Fellowship for Africa-based filmmakers and content creators, and she is an Associate Producer on the South African short film SADLA (2019 Toronto Film Festival, 2020 Sundance Film Festival).
Never one to back away from a creative challenge, her unique voice is a beguiling breath of fresh air as she aims to entertain, enlighten, and passionately share stories with authenticity and integrity.