Aishah Shahidah Simmons Bio

Aishah Shahidah Simmons | Biographaphical Sketch


Aishah Shahidah Simmons is an award-winning African-American feminist lesbian independent documentary filmmaker, television and radio producer, published writer, international lecturer, and activist based in Philadelphia, PA.

In 1992, she founded AfroLez® Productions, an AfroLez®femcentric multimedia arts company committed to using the moving image, the written and spoken word to address those issues which have a negative impact on marginalized and disenfranchised people.

Coined in 1990 by Aishah, AfroLez®femcentric defines the culturally conscious role of Black women who identify as Afrocentric, lesbian, and feminist.

For three years she co-produced two monthly public television programs for a PBS affiliate in Philadelphia. Her internationally acclaimed short videos Silence…Broken and In My Father’s House, which were produced in 1993 and 1996, explore the issues of race, gender, homophobia, rape, and misogyny.

AishahOnSet1.jpgAn incest and rape survivor, she spent eleven years, seven of which were full time, to produce write, and direct NO! The Rape Documentary. This groundbreaking documentary explores the international reality of rape and other forms of sexual assault through the first person testimonies, scholarship, spirituality, activism and cultural work of African-Americans.

Winner of an audience choice award and a juried award at the San Diego Women Film Festival, NO! also explores how rape is used as a weapon of homophobia. NO! is a Black feminist educational organizing tool, which is being used in the global movement to end violence against women and children.

Since its official release in 2006, NO! has been screened and distributed to racially and ethnically diverse audiences at:

  • film festivals
  • community centers
  • colleges/universities
  • high schools
  • correctional facilities
  • rape crisis centers
  • battered women’s shelters
  • conferences

throughout the United States, in Italy, Spain, Hungary, Croatia, Rwanda, Kenya, Nepal, South Africa, Jordan, Burkina Faso, Peru, and Mexico.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center-the comprehensive center for information, research, and emerging policy on sexual violence intervention and prevention in the United States–designated screenings and discussions of NO! in community settings as the Featured Event during their 2007 Sexual Assault Awareness Month Campaign.

Through a major grant from the The Ford Foundation, Ms. Simmons, coordinated the French (Carole Crawford), Spanish (Evelyne Laurent-Perrault), and Portuguese (Maristela Smith, Rachel E. Harding, Niede Bolinger) subtitling of NO!; produced and directed the two-hour Breaking Silences: A Supplemental Video to NO!, which was photographed by Joan Brannon; and edited and composed by Monica N. Dillon; and she was the creative and editorial director of Unveiling the Silence: NO! The Rape Documentary Study Guide, which was co-created by Salamishah Tillet, Ph.D., and Rachel Afi Quinn

aishahinstephaniesclass.jpgMs. Simmons has screened her work and facilitated workshops to educate about and heal from sexual violence; and the process of making grassroots social change documentaries to racially to racially and ethnically diverse audiences at international film festivals, colleges and universities, high schools, conferences, rape crisis centers, battered women shelters, community centers, juvenile correctional facilities, and government sponsored events across the United States, throughout Italy, in France, England, Croatia, Hungary, The Netherlands, Mexico, Kenya, and South Africa.

She is the author of numerous essays, some of which have been translated into French and Italian, all of which are featured in anthologies and journals in the United States and internationally.

Ms. Simmons is the recipient of numerous grants and awards including the 2007 International Federation of Black Prides Award; the 2007 Media Award from the Institute on Domestic Violence in the African-American Community; the 2006 D.C. Rape Crisis Center’s Visionary Award; a 2006 grant from the Ford Foundation to support the international educational marketing and distribution of NO!; the National Sexual Violence Resource Center ‘s 2006 National Award for Outstanding Response to and Prevention of Sexual Violence; Leeway Foundation’s 2005 Transformation Award; an Artist-in-Residency at Spelman College’s Digital Moving Image Salon; and several production/post production grants from the Valentine Foundation, the Bread and Roses Community Fund, Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, the Delaware Valley Legacy Fund of the Philadelphia Foundation, the Women’s Way Discretionary Fund, and the Gloria Steinem Fund of the Ms. Foundation for Women.

silencecover_2small.jpgBreaking Silences: A Supplemental Video To NO! © 2007, USA,
Color/Digital Video/112 minutes

For Women of Rage and Reason © 2006, USA,
Color/Digital Video/ 4:45 minutes

nocoversmall.jpgNO! © 2006, USA,
Color/Digital Video/94 minute

NO! A Work-In-Progress © 1997, 2000, 2002, USA,
Color/Digital Video/8 minutes, 20 minutes, and 74 minutes

In My Father’s House © 1996, USA,
Color/Video/15 minutes

Silence…Broken © 1993, USA,