Tea Talks with Tomeka – Episode 18: Hanelle M. Culpepper

Hanelle M. Culpepper
Tea Talks with Tomeka – Episode 18: Hanelle M. Culpepper

Hanelle M. Culpepper is an energetic and unflappable award-winning television and film writer/director whose visual, story-driven films have played in festivals around the world and on television.  Last year, she made history by being the first African-American woman to direct for the Star Trek franchise. Her Parenthood episode was chosen by the producers to represent the series for Emmy consideration.  And in 2015, Hanelle was nominated for an Image Award for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series.

Hanelle has directed numerous episodes of television for all the networks. (See her filmography here.) She has directed movies for Lifetime including Hunt for the Labyrinth Killer, a feature starring Amanda Schull (Center Stage, Suits, One Tree Hill), Michael Nouri (Flashdance), Coby Ryan McLaughlin, Anne Ramsay (Mad About You), James Avery (Fresh Prince of Bel-Air), and featuring Gina Gershon; Murder on the 13th Floor starring Tessa Thompson (For Colored Girls) and Sean Patrick Thomas (Save The Last Dance, The District); and the suspenseful good twin/bad twin feature Deadly Sibling Rivalry starring Charisma Carpenter (Buffy, Angel), Christa B. Allen (Revenge) and Kyle Richards (Real Housewives of Beverly Hills).


Hanelle’s first feature, the supernatural thriller Within, starring Sam Jaeger (Parenthood), Brent Sexton (The Killing), and featuring Aisha Hinds (True Blood, Detroit 1-8-7), won Outstanding Feature Film at the Big Bear Horror Film Festival. Produced and distributed by Bigfoot Entertainment, Within premiered on Lifetime in July 2010, ranking as the network’s #2 program of the week. It continues to air frequently on both Lifetime and LMN.

A native of Alabama, Hanelle graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude with a B.A. in Economics and French from Lake Forest College in suburban Chicago. For graduate studies, she earned a Master’s degree at USC’s Annenberg School. While at USC, she worked behind the scenes on multiple student film projects in positions from PA to producer.

Following her graduation from USC, Hanelle assisted Academy Award winning screenwriter Callie Khouri on her directorial debut, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.


 Hanelle was selected for the FIND Screenwriters Lab, Bill Cosby’s Screenwriting Program, AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women (DWW) and NBC’s Directing Initiative.

Hanelle’s DWW short A Single Rose won numerous awards and screened at film festivals worldwide, including the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, and was a semi-finalist for an Academy Award nomination in the Best Shorts category. Hanelle directed several more shorts that screened in festivals, on television and even on airplanes and hospitals.

Hanelle is represented by Verve talent agency. Her manager is Adesuwa McCalla at Metamorphic Entertainment.


Twitter: @Hillview798 
 Facebook: @Hanelle.Culpepper
 LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/hanelleculpepper
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hanelleculpepper

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