Maurice Jamal is recognized in the entertainment industry as being one of the few contemporary African American filmmakers to consistently profile the lives of the black community in film.
He wrote, directed and starred in the independent gay and lesbian romantic comedy The Ski Trip in 2005. The Ski Trip also starred John Rankin, Haaz Sleiman and Emanuel Xavier. The film put Jamal on the map for its wide range of appeal within the lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual (LGBT) community. It featured gay and lesbian characters of color in a comedy that was laugh out loud funny, but balanced with humanity. The film premier helped launch the LOGO Network in 2005, and was their sole programming featuring people of color until Noah’s Arc debuted later that year.
In 2007, Jamal released his second film Dirty Laundry chronicling the story of a larger-than-life gay male character returning home to the south after living in the big city. Rockmond Dunbar, Loretta Devine, Jenifer Lewis, Sommore and Jamal himself topped off the cast of this hysterical family dramedy. The film made history as the first Black gay-themed family film to receive a theatrical release. 2009 brought his acclaimed digital series Friends and Lovers.
Jamal was raised in Berkeley, CA and had an admittedly non-traditional educational experience in this bastion of progressive values. Admittedly an awkward teen, Jamal underwent a life-changing experience when Aaliyah’s plane crashed in 2001. Of the event, Jamal shared, “I was friends with, and admired, a fellow artist who was on Aaliyah’s plane. After his sudden death it caused me to reevaluate my life and decide to really walk my pat.”
“My friend [Anthony] had always talked about moving to LA and getting in the business. I realized that life is short and firmly believe that God wants us to be happy and the universe wants us to utilize our gifts and talents. So I got off the pot – I bought a one-way ticket to New York City and pursued acting and directing full time. Even more, I did it without a Plan B because for me having a Plan B means you are considering the possibility of failing.”
Jamal has been profiled in Black Enterprise Magazine, Essence, JET, Variety, OUT magazine and The Advocate and is listed in BET’s “Who’s Who in Black LGBT America.” Mr. Jamal supports many charitable causes and speaks nationally on the issues of HIV/AIDS, youth empowerment and LGBT community development. He sits on the Board of Directors of Frameline, the world’s largest LGBT Film Festival; The Blackhouse Foundation, which supports the development of Black Independent Cinema; and National Black Coming Out Day. Currently he is the Founder and President of GLO TV Network – the world’s first Urban LGBT network.
“I’m so excited to be the President of GLO TV. I’ve had much success in this industry and I am glad that I have done so as an openly gay person of color. I’ve sold films to LOGO, worked at BET and Comedy Central, and I’ve had successful films on the big screen. But this is the most important thing I have ever done in my career. Every day I get messages from LGBT people all across this country…every race, young and old, who are living life and reaching for their dreams. Some have been inspired by a movie they’ve seen, or a book they’ve read. Some are dealing with the challenges of living an authentic life. But what we all have in common is our need to be seen and heard for who we truly are. GLO TV is more than just a network. GLO TV is US. It’s OUR lives, OUR stories, OUR chance. I’m proud to take this journey with each and every one of you. It’s time to let our light shine. It’s time to get our “GLO on.”
Up next is the hip-hop crime drama series SOLDIER, with a homoerotic twist and THE BIG MO SHOW, a political and pop culture talk show being hosted by Jamal.
* Photo courtesy Maurice Jamal