Contessa Gayles is a San Francisco and New York-based documentary filmmaker, an award-winning journalist and an Emmy-nominated producer. She tells stories about identity, movement and social change, with a focus on race, ethnicity and gender.
From 2014 - 2018, she was a producer at CNN, where she created, produced, directed, shot and edited award-winning original series and documentaries, including The Feminist on Cellblock Y (2018 Vera Institute Award Winner, 2018 Eppy Award Finalist), Women Who March (2018 Webby Award Honoree, 2017 Eppy Award Finalist), Women Who March: The Movement (2018 Eppy Award Winner), This Is Birth with Lisa Ling & This Is Sex with Lisa Ling (2017 & 2018 Namic Vision Award Nominees), Unstereotyped and the 2016 News & Documentary Emmy-nominated Feeding America's Most Vulnerable Children. She has additionally contributed to VICE, PBS NewsHour, PBS Frontline, WIRED, AFROPUNK and forthcoming independent documentary features, including Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project (dir. Michèle Stephenson, Joe Brewster), Black Mothers (dir. Débora Souza Silva) and Surge (dir. Hannah Rosenzweig, Wendy Sachs) .
Contessa holds a B.A. from Columbia University and an M.A. in Journalism from New York University, with a concentration in Documentary Film. Her thesis documentary, School of Yoga, screened at the 2015 DOC NYC film festival.
She is currently creating independent film and media projects under her production company, Cocomotion Pictures.