James Adolphus has been making globally relevant documentary films about social, cultural, and political issues for nearly twenty years. Adolphus is a two-time Emmy Award and a three-time Peabody Award winner. His work has garnered the Columbia University Alfred I. DuPont Award, the Walter Cronkite Award, and the Peter Jennings Award. He is a graduate of the American Film Institute Conservatory, where he received the Fisher Fellow Award, annually given to the AFI fellow who best personifies the philosophy of filmmaking as a collaborative art form.
Adolphus is currently directing Being Mary: The Mary Tyler Moore Documentary, the first authorized documentary about the iconic star. Being Mary is being produced with Lena Waithe of Hillman Grad Productions and Endeavor Content, alongside Debra Martin Chase of Martin Chase Productions, Andrew Coles of The Mission, with Ben Selkow and James Adolphus of Good Trouble Studios handling physical production.
James is also directing Gifted & Black, produced by Amazon Studios, Hillman Grad Productions, and Good Trouble Studios. Gifted & Black will follow the genealogy of the music heard and seen on Instagram in Swizz Beatz and Timbaland's Verzuz to journey through how Black communities have drawn strength, solidarity, and resilience from music and passed this gift on to the world.
Recently, James Adolphus directed ABC's, Soul of a Nation, the first Black news magazine series highlighting the authentic realities of Black life by exploring specific themes, including spirituality, Black joy, activism in sports, and the racial reckoning that erupted after George Floyd'sFloyd's death. Adolphus also directed the critically acclaimed Netflix series, Dating Around and You Ain't Got These for Quibi, with executive producer Lena Waithe.
Past projects include the Netflix series Rapture, which breaks down the world of hip-hop through a collection of high-profile interviews and cinéma vérité seldom seen in ethnographic documentaries about the culture. Adolphus also worked on Somebody Feed Phil with Phil Rosenthal, the creator of Everybody Loves Raymond, a new light-hearted culinary adventure documentary series that follows Rosenthal as he eats his way across the world.
James lensed the Peabody Award-winning series, Time: The Kalief Browder Story, for executive producer Shawn Carter (a.k.a. Jay-Z). Time tells the life and death story of Kalief Browder, an American tragedy almost beyond words, and had its World Premiere at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Adolphus also lensed CNN's Believer with Reza Aslan, a project that follows the author, religious scholar, and show-host Reza Aslan as he immerses himself in various religious traditions all over the world.
James Adolphus had a long collaboration with HBO as director of photography on their award-winning television series Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. Adolphus helped garner a Peabody Award for the segment, The Killing Fields: Hunting the Elephant into Extinction, and an Emmy Award for Outstanding Sports Journalism for the piece, Uncaged: Domestic Violence the MMA. The Real Sports segment, The Lord of the Rings, won an Alfred I. DuPont Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism, and most recently, the feature Fukushima Fallout won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Sports Journalism.
The Warren, a short dramatic film and Adolphus' debut project as a film director, had its World Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2014 and has garnered international praise. The Warren illustrates the experience of Palestinian civilians amidst the conflict between their country and Israel.
James Adolphus cut his teeth as a cinematographer on Sundance Channel's provocative documentary series Brick City, winner of a Peabody Award in 2009, and has also photographed the projects, Second Coming for BET, winner of the 2013 Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Political Journalism, and Freeway: Crack in the System for Al Jazeera America, nominated for a 2016 Emmy for Outstanding Investigative Journalism.