Shaka King
Born (1980-03-07) March 7, 1980 (age 43)
Alma mater
  • Filmmaker
  • writer
  • director
Years active2009–present

Shaka King (born March 7, 1980) is an American film director, screenwriter, and film producer. He is best known for directing and co-writing the 2021 biopic Judas and the Black Messiah.


An only child, King was born on March 7, 1980[citation needed] in Crown Heights and grew up in Bedford-Stuyvesant, both in Brooklyn, New York.[1][2] His mother's family was from Barbados and Panama, while his father's family was from Panama.[3] Both parents worked as public school teachers[1] and were "very Afrocentric."[1] King's early education occurred in the neighborhoods of East Harlem and Fort Greene.[3] He grew up attended a predominantly white preparatory school in Bay Ridge during his middle and high school years.[4] It was in high school that he discovered his passion for creative writing.[1]

King studied political science and took his first film production course at Vassar College. After graduating, he practiced screenwriting while working as a youth counselor and tutor.[1] In 2007, he entered a graduate film program at New York University Tisch School of the Arts where he was a student of Spike Lee.[5] King's thesis for his masters of fine arts resulted in the feature film Newlyweeds.[2]

King currently lives in the borough of Brooklyn.[6]


King's debut feature film Newlyweeds is about a free-spirited young couple who live in Bedford-Stuyvesant and who prefer to indulge in marijuana and hashish.[7] The film premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. He presented his next film, Mulignans, in the USA Narrative Short Films program at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.[8] His 2017 short film LaZercism, starring Lakeith Stanfield, tells of a world in which white people suffer from “racial glaucoma.” [9] Stanfield also appears in King's second feature film, Judas and the Black Messiah, in which Daniel Kaluuya plays the role of Fred Hampton.[1] The feature was nominated for six Academy Awards, including specific nods for King for Best Original Screenplay, and Best Picture. More recently, he got a first-look deal with FX Productions to develop television.[10][11]

Angelique Jackson of Variety has noted that King is one of those "Black filmmakers [who] are offering an unvarnished look at the legacy of the 1960s civil rights era, examining America’s tortured history of racism ..."[5]


Short films

Year Title Director Writer Producer
2009 Mariachi No No Yes
Cocoa Loco Yes No No
2010 Herkimer DuFrayne 7th Grade Guidance Counselor Yes Yes Yes
2015 Mulignans Yes Yes Yes
2017 LaZercism Yes Yes Yes

Feature films

Year Title Director Writer Producer
2013 Newlyweeds Yes Yes Yes
2021 Judas and the Black Messiah Yes Yes Yes


Year Title Director Writer Notes
2016 High Maintenance Yes Yes 2 episodes
2016-17 People of Earth Yes No 5 episodes
2018 Random Acts of Flyness Yes Yes Directed 1 episode, wrote 2 episodes
2019-20 Shrill Yes No 4 episodes

Awards and nominations

Year Award Title Category Result Ref
2020 NAACP Image Awards Shrill Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series Nominated [12]
2021 Academy Awards Judas and the Black Messiah Best Picture Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Nominated
2021 Producers Guild of America Awards Best Theatrical Motion Picture Nominated
2021 Writers Guild of America Awards Best Original Screenplay Nominated


  1. ^ a b c d e f Ugwu, Reggie (February 12, 2021). "Shaka King Goes to Hollywood". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 14, 2021.
  2. ^ a b Farley, Christopher John (July 9, 2013). "A Singular Effort On a Joint Project". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved February 14, 2021.
  3. ^ a b "Meet the 2013 Sundance Filmmakers #40: Shaka King Tells the Story of an Unusual Threesome in 'Newlyweeds'". IndieWire. January 22, 2013. Retrieved February 14, 2021.
  4. ^ Juzwiak, Rich (September 18, 2013). ""Is There Such a Thing as Black Pop Culture?": Director Shaka King". Gawker. Retrieved February 14, 2021.
  5. ^ a b Jackson, Angelique (February 19, 2021). "How 'Judas and the Black Messiah,' 'Da 5 Bloods' and 'One Night in Miami' Capture the Radical Spirit of the 1960s and Beyond". Variety. Retrieved May 18, 2023.
  6. ^ "Shaka King". Film Independent. Retrieved February 14, 2021.
  7. ^ Holden, Stephen (September 18, 2013). "Love and Paranoia in Brooklyn: Yes, They Inhale. Repeatedly. (Published 2013)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 14, 2021.
  8. ^ Salovaara, Sarah (February 25, 2015). "Shaka King on Releasing His Sundance Short Mulignans Online". Filmmaker Magazine. Retrieved February 14, 2021.
  9. ^ Macaulay, Scott (May 31, 2017). "Watch: Shaka King Erases "Racial Glaucoma" in Short Film LaZercism". Filmmaker Magazine. Retrieved February 14, 2021.
  10. ^ Petski, Denise (October 1, 2021). "'Judas And The Black Messiah' Writer-Director Shaka King Inks First-Look Deal With FX Productions". Deadline. Retrieved October 2, 2021.
  11. ^ Lindahl, Chris (October 1, 2021). "Shaka King Will Develop Series for FX After Signing First Look Deal". IndieWire. Retrieved October 5, 2021.
  12. ^ "NAACP Image Awards: Lizzo Named Entertainer of the Year; 'Just Mercy,' 'Black-ish' Among Top Winners". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 14, 2021.