Maya Washington

Film & TV.


Maya Washington is an award-winning filmmaker (writer/director/producer) and actor. Maya is currently touring her most recent films: Through the Banks of the Red Cedar, a feature length documentary about her father Vikings Legend Gene Washington and his Michigan State teammates who were on the first fully-integrated college football team in America, and CLEAR a narrative short film about a mixed-blood indigenous woman and her family reconnecting after a 16-year prison sentence for a crime she didn’t commit.

Her award-winning narrative short film White Space, starring ABC Family’s Switched at Birth series regular Ryan Lane, is now streaming online through KweliTV after a network television appearance through African American Short Films.

Scroll for film pages…

wood (13).jpg

Through the Banks of the Red Cedar

Documentary Feature

Maya Washington Director/Producer/Writer

In 1963 Michigan State Head Coach Duffy Daugherty gave 23 African American young men the opportunity of a lifetime. The daughter of Vikings football legend Gene Washington uncovers how the first fully-integrated college football team in America changed the game forever.

Through the Banks of the Red Cedar Trailer:

The story unfolds through the eyes of Maya Washington, Gene's youngest daughter, as she uncovers her father's journey and the impact of this legacy on the present generation. Maya traces her father's footsteps from the segregated South to the North, over the course of a modern football season. As she uncovers both the triumphs and defeats of her father's team, she develops a newly formed appreciation for the game and a deeper connection to her father, just in time to witness MSU Spartan Football team ascend to national prominence 50 years later.

The racial demographics seen on the field today are due in large part to Hall of Fame coach Duffy Daugherty’s innovative approach to recruiting African American men from the South to MSU in the 1960s, known as the “Underground Railroad” of college football. The success of MSU’s 1965 and 1966 back-to-back Big Ten and National Champion teams forces America to re-think prejudices that previously kept African American players from earning scholarships or starting positions.

The story delves into the triumphs and defeats of Daugherty's integrated team as they finish the season with the historic 1966 "Game of the Century," a 10-10 tie against Notre Dame. Teammates Gene Washington, Bubba Smith , Clinton Jones, and George Webster make history as first round picks in the 1967 draft. Gene Washington and Clinton Jones bring momentum to the Minnesota Vikings, playing in the 1969 Super Bowl alongside legendary teammates Joe Kapp, Alan Page, Carl Eller, Jim Marshall, John Henderson, Oscar Reed, Dave Osborn and Mick Tingelhoff. Maya's interviews with former players recall the highlights of the Minnesota Vikings' "Purple People Eater" years, as well as the racial discrimination black players faced in the league, speaking to the overall impact African American pioneers had on players' rights, including free agency and the right to negotiate salaries. Her appreciation and gratitude for her father grows deeper as together they reveal how what happened 50 years ago is still relevant today.



Minnesota Film & TV LACH Production Reimbursement Grant || Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant || Minnesota State Arts Board Arts Tour Grant || Jerome Foundation MN/NYC Film, Video, and Digital Production Grant || Audience Choice Honorable Mention – MN Made Documentary Feature – MSPIFF || Curated in “Best of Fest” screening for MSPIFF 2018

Official Selection

Detroit Free Press Freep Film Festival

Louisiana International Film Festival

Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival

Rochester International Film Festival

Bentonville Film festival

Color of Conversation Film Series, AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center

Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival

Community & Educational Screenings

ASU Global Sport Institute Summit - Phoenix, CA March 2019

Minnesota Vikings Museum - Eagan, MN February 2019

College Football Hall of Fame Museum - Atlanta, GA February 2019

DFW Spartans Cafe Izmir - Dallas, Texas January, 2019

California State University Fullerton Race Gender & Sports Symposium - Fullerton, CA December 2018

Showbiz Cinemas Baytown 10 - Houston, TX  October 2018

MSP Film Society Capri Theater - Minneapolis, MN October 2018

Michigan State University - East Lansing, MI September 2018

West Michigan Spartans Wealthy Theatre - Grand Rapids, MI September 2018

Minnesota State University Mankato - Mankato, MN March 28, 2018 

College of St. Scholastica & University of Minnesota Duluth - Duluth, MN February, 2018 

wood (13).jpg


Narrative Short Film

Maya Washington Director/Producer/Writer, Supporting Actress

An exoneree reconnects with her adolescent daughter after a 16-year prison sentence for a crime she didn’t commit. Coming together is easy but picking up the pieces is a whole other thing. Starring George Keller, Ava Egertson, Santino Craven, Maya Washington and Josiah Howes.

Written, directed, and produced, by Maya Washington. Samantha Manalang and Tina Barr, Producers.

A story about wrongful conviction in America and what happens when the exonerated return home…

CLEAR (2018) was inspired by the dissertation research of producer Tina Nagata Barr, a PhD Candidate in the School of Social Work at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and a faculty member at University of North Carolina Pembroke. A collaboration was born between Maya Washington, and Tina Nagata Barr, MSW in researching the post-release experiences of exonerees and their families, in the creation of an original film featuring a mixed-blood indigenous family.

Maya Washington crafted the narrative based on eight months of research into publicly available texts and artifacts. These texts and artifacts included a comprehensive review of the research literature, as well as the “grey literature,” such as newspaper articles, documentaries, investigative journalism television programs, podcasts, and exoneree biographies on the Innocence Project and National Registry of Exonerees websites. The creative process was further informed by Tina Nagata Barr’s preliminary research from a study examining exonerees’ experiences. As a form of arts-based research, findings were distilled into a single composite story of a female character, Ember, who is exonerated and released from prison.

CLEAR is currently screening nationwide, and has even touched global academic audiences in order to spark conversation and support advocacy in the area of Wrongful Conviction, and the lack of resources provided to those who’ve been wrongfully incarcerated and their families.



Jury Award - Best Narrative Short Film, One Nation Film Festival 2018 

Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant 2017

Official Selection

Denton Black Film Festival - Denton, TX January 2019

Red Nation Film Festival - Beverly Hills, CA November 2018

Cucalorus Film Festival - Wilmington, NC November 2018

Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival - Vineyard Haven, MA  August 2018

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival - Minneapolis, MN April 2018

Nevada Women’s Film Festival - Las Vegas, NV March, 2018

One Nation Film Festival - Colorado Springs, CO February, 2018

Community & Educational Screenings

University of Bucharest - Bucharest, Romania (Google Hangout) March, 2019

University of North Carolina at Pembroke - Pembroke, NC February, 2019

California State University Fullerton - Fullerton, CA April, 2018

Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR) Conference- Washington, DC (Electronic Poster) January, 2018

University of Minnesota School of Social Work - St. Paul, MN June, 2017

wood (13).jpg


Narrative Short Film

Maya Washington Director/Producer/Writer, Lead Actress

a deaf performance poet makes his debut at an open-mic night for a hearing audience. Can the language of the heart emancipate the inner voice, transcending the white space between a hearing audience and a deaf man’s soul? Starring Ryan Lane, Maya Washington, Lester Purry, CJ Jones, Tanya Alexander, Ant Black, Zendrea Mitchell, Justin Goudeau, and ByRon Washington.

Written, directed, and produced, by Maya Washington. Freddy Hakimi and Samantha Manalang, Producers.

White Space (2011)  follows the inner life of a deaf performance poet (Ryan Lane) as he makes his debut at an open-mic night for a hearing audience. A global festival favorite, the film inspired a transmedia effort : White Space Poetry Anthology featuring the work of Deaf and Hearing Artists, White Space Poetry Project - ASL Interpreted Poetry events, educational workshops, and open-captioned film screenings. to elevate the profile of Deaf artists and collaborations between the hearing and Deaf communities, as well as making live poetry and film events more accessible to Deaf audiences and performers.

White Space has toured globally, and was broadcast on Network Television as a selection of the program African American Short Films, and is available on— an interactive streaming platform that celebrates the African Diaspora experience, community and culture through dope, undiscovered documentaries, films, web shows, children’s programming, news and more.




2012 Hollywood Black Film Festival


2012 Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival


2012 Co-Kisser Poetry Film Festival


2012 Co-Kisser Poetry Film Festival


2012 Boston International Film Festival


2013 Black Reel Awards


Official Selection

2014 Hong Kong International Deaf Film Festival

2013 CINEDEAF Rome International Film Festival

2013 Gebärdensprachfilmwoche Berlin Film Festival

2013 Toronto International Deaf Film Festival

2013 Indie Boots Film Festival

2013 Langston Hughes African American Film Festival

2012 Hollywood Black Film Festival

2012 Tallgrass International Film Festival

2012 Urbanworld Film Festival

2012 Co-Kisser Poetry-Film Festival

2012 Budapest International Short Film Festival

2012 Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival

2012 Cinema and Civics

2012 Northern Spark Festival

2012 Maine Deaf Film Festival

2012 Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival

2012 Seattle Deaf Film Festival

2012 WAMMFest Women and Minorities in Media Festival

2012 Boston International Film Festival

2012 Women’s International Film and Arts Festival

2012 Sedona International Film Festival

2012 San Diego Black Film Festival

2011 African American Women in Cinema Festival

2011 Costa Rica International Film Festival

2011 Cinema Touching Disability Film Festival


Educational Workshops

& Screenings

Young Author’s Conference - Bethel, MN

Sheridan School - Minneapolis, MN

Intermedia Arts - Minneapolis, MN

MSP Film Society at Minneapolis-St.Paul International Airport - Bloomington, MN

Pillsbury House Theatre - Minneapolis, MN

Bay Lake Camp - Bay Lake, MN

California State University San Bernardino - San Bernardino, CA

ITVS Community Cinema at Chapman University - Orange, CA