America To Me




Kartemquin Films
Sundance, Starz

A year-long immersion into one of Chicago’s most progressive and diverse public schools, located in suburban Oak Park. Both intimate and epic, this TV mini series explores America’s charged state of race, culture and education today with unprecedented depth and scope. The project premiered at Sundance and broadcast on STARZ.

As a Segment Director and Cinematographer, I  was responsible for filming and directing the stories of three out of twelve students featured in the series. Developing close and personal relationships with our subjects, we filmed them at home, school, parties and even took part in an old-school sleepover.


“A meaty examination of race and class and how the two affect a person’s chances at achieving the American Dream — the rare project that forces viewers to distinguish between equity and equality.


Lest that sound too much like homework — and most of the characters in American To Me hate homework — it’s also an entertaining and carefully woven story of contemporary high school, with enough sports, first love, outcasts, popular kids, dances, drama and generational discord in suburban Chicago that it could be a John Hughes movie, if John Hughes had made movies with majority African-American casts.”

— Hollywood Reporter Read More

Key Credits

Director: Steve James
Segment Director & Director of Photography: Rebecca Parrish, Kevin Shaw, Bing Liu
Series Producer: John Condne, Risé Sanders-Weir
Co-Producer: Janea Smith
Associate Producer: Stephanie Rae Smith
Editor: David Simpson, Leslie Simmer, Steve James
Co-Editor: Alanna Schmelter
Associate Editor: Rubin Daniels Jr.
Sound Recordist: Zak Piper, Haydon Jackson