A native of Philadelphia, Cheryl Dunye was born in Liberia. She received her BA from Temple University and her MFA from Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts. She began her career by making short films, including Greetings from Africa, which was shown at the 1995 Sundance Film Festival. But it was her first full-length film that drew attention to the up-and-coming director. Dunye wrote and directed the first African-American lesbian feature film, The Watermelon Woman (1996), which won a Teddy for Best Feature at the Berlin International Film Festival and an Audience Award at L.A. Outfest. Her next project, the HBO TV movie Stranger Inside (2001), won two awards at the Créteil International Women’s Film Festival, a Special Jury Award for Outstanding Achievement from the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, and Audience Awards from L.A. Outfest, the Philadelphia and San Francisco Film Festivals and the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival.
Dunye’s next film choice would be a mainstream Hollywood comedy called My Baby’s Daddy (2003), written by the star of the movie, Eddie Griffen, in collaboration with three other writers.
In addition, Dunye has written articles for Time Out, Felix and Movement Research. She has taught in the Department of Art at the University of California, Riverside and the Department of Media Studies at Pitzer College in Southern California. She is currently a board member of Outfest in Los Angeles, a member of the IFP/West and Film Arts Foundation as well as being the mother of two children.