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The Urbanworld Film Festival concluded its 25th annual edition on Sunday, a fitting milestone for its longtime festival director and head of programming Gabrielle Glore to turn the page on her own career. Glore, who arrived at the New York City-based festival in 2004 to serve as its co-executive producer, is leaving to focus on her production banner, Glorified. She previously produced last year’s Emmy-nominated romantic drama Sylvie’s Love and two seasons of BET HER’s talk show The Round and executive produced the 2006 romantic comedy Dirty Laundry. Glore also serves as a consulting producer for the artist studio WarnerMedia OneFifty and executive director of the Leading Women Defined Foundation, and her consulting firm The Glore Group has worked with clients including HBO, BET Networks, ARRAY and the Equal Justice Initiative.
As she steps down from her position at Urbanworld, Glore reflects on the mission of the film festival and how it has equipped her for the next stage in her life.
“I trust the next chapter, because I know the author.”
— Author Unknown
Turning 18 is a rite of passage, marking transition to a new chapter that holds infinite promise and possibility. As we celebrate 25 years of Urbanworld, I have been reflecting on my 18 years with a festival that has been so generous to me, giving me many gifts that will follow me forward. It has been an unexpected journey that put me in immediate proximity to a platform that would validate and inspire my strong desire to make movies – movies of magnitude, ones that allowed the world to see the unseen. Urbanworld has been that platform, for me and countless other filmmakers.
When I landed on the Urbanworld scene in 2004 as a Co-Executive Producer, I was thrust into the unfamiliar and the thrilling, everything moving at rapid speed in preparation for the festival’s opening night premiere of Collateral, hosted at Harlem’s Magic Johnson Theater, complete with a red carpet running the length of a city block, to be walked by director Michael Mann and stars Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith and Tom Cruise. That was my welcome to Urbanworld.
It was a studio film that our then-festival publicist, Ava DuVernay, had fearlessly fought to bring to Urbanworld, after convincing all parties involved why we mattered and about the opportunity before them. Her unrelenting efforts immediately showed me our value, our power and our importance within the festival landscape. We were modest, but mighty, and a place that filmmakers and actors at the highest levels could call home. And that’s exactly what Urbanworld became for me — a home.
So, I embarked on my Urbanworld experience with a true appreciation for its history before my arrival, and a glimpse into the era awaiting me. It was place where storytelling was highlighted from around the world and a community of distinct emerging voices was nurtured. For filmmakers like Ava DuVernay, Dee Rees, Ryan Coogler, Tina Mabry and Blitz “The Ambassador” Bazawule, Urbanworld provided a soft landing into the industry with a warm embrace that gave them confidence and credibility to conquer the world.
My front-row seat at the helm of the festival allowed me to apprentice under our founder, Stacy Spikes, a visionary, innovator, and now chosen family member. With integrity and an empowering spirit, he has bestowed upon me — and so many other content creators of color — the belief that we’re each meant to authentically tell our stories, with Urbanworld serving as the premiere platform from which those stories can be elevated.
My time with Urbanworld has enabled me to lead all facets of the festival, including programming, on- and offscreen. It has gifted me with the opportunity to lean into global storytelling that spotlights creativity and culture while building community around the world. It has allowed our festival to educate an industry, one that possesses both conscious and unconscious bias, about what “urban” means — that it transcends ethnicity to encompass sensibility and geographic proximity to urban centers, enriched by an infinite number of powerful, poignant narratives.
This experience has challenged me to refine my purpose in the industry, to explore making my mark in new ways, shifting to curate and orchestrate new pathways that intersect with old ones. Finding and developing stories that I wish to tell as a creative producer is the space I live in now. It is a place that has been calling me for a long time, and one that I’ve become comfortable inhabiting. Urbanworld gave me the support I needed to take the leap as a producer with a film called Sylvie’s Love. I quickly learned that it’s a marathon and not a sprint, and was fueled with the endurance needed to cross the finish line with a project that was seven years in the making. It’s this same marathon mentality that has allowed Urbanworld to maintain its longevity and reach this milestone year.
And so now, with an even richer understanding of the creative process, as well as the contributions I can make to specific projects and the industry at large, I am poised for my next chapter — a chapter that excites me beyond measure, and allows me to continue advancing inclusion and impact in our storytelling. With film and TV projects in development under my Glorified production banner, I am anticipating what the future holds while reflecting on an irreplaceable Urbanworld experience. I am ready.
As the festival’s 25th anniversary sunsets, I will leave this phenomenal festival in the hands of a passionate and collaborative team that has evolved into a family over the years. Under our founder’s continued vision, our new executive director’s leadership, and a forthcoming festival director to be announced, Urbanworld will continue to thrive, encouraging the world around us to take note of who we are and why we matter. Urbanworld is home — for me, for the storytelling community, for our partners, and for the industry.
Festival Director and Head of Programming, Urbanworld Film Festival
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