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avatar for Ya'Ke Smith

Ya'Ke Smith

writer/director Katrina’s Son, WOLF, dawn., Hope’s War, One Hitta Quitta; film professor at UT Arlington

Ya’Ke Smith known for his unflinching and veracious style of storytelling, is a rising voice in independent cinema.

His films have received world-wide acclaim, screening and winning awards at over 90 film festivals. The Director’s Guild of America, the Student Academy Awards, HBO, Showtime, and the City of Buffalo, NY, which proclaimed February 23, 2013 as Ya’Ke Smith Day, have honored him. He was named as one of 25 Screenwriters to Watch by the Austin Film Festival and MovieMaker Magazine and a 2016 artist to watch by FD Luxe Magazine. His short, "Katrina’s Son", screened at over 40-film festivals and won 14 awards. The film was also eligible for the 2012 Academy Award in short filmmaking. His debut feature, “WOLF”, which NPR called “an impressive piece by a young director,” premiered at the SXSW Film Festival and has gone on to screen and win awards at festivals across North America. The film is now available for streaming via kwelitv.com and Amazon Prime. His short film, “dawn.", aired on HBO from 2015-16 and was also featured on Issa Rae's youtube channel as part of her #ShortFilmSunday series.  His latest short film, "one hitta quitta", won a Special Jury Recognition for Excellence in Short Filmmaking from the Dallas International Film Festival. He is currently in pre-production on his first Web Series tentatively titled, "The Beginning and Ending of Everything." 

Ya’Ke has been featured on NPR, CNN, HLN, Ebony Online, Indiewire, Filmmaker Magazine, MovieMaker Magazine and Shadow&Act.

He graduated with his B.A. from the Communication Arts Department at the University of The Incarnate Word, where he later became the youngest recipient of the Alumni of Distinction for Professional Achievement award.

He received his M.F.A. from the University of Texas at Austin’s film program. He is currently the Morgan Woodward Distinguished Professor of Film at the University of Texas at Arlington.