Contessa Gayles is a San Francisco-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, AFROPUNK and forthcoming independent documentary features, including Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project (dir. Michèle Stephenson, Joe Brewster), Surge (dir. Hannah Rosenzweig, Wendy Sachs) and Black Mothers (dir. Débora Souza Silva).
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.