Darnell Martin is a director and writer born in Bronx, New York. From the Bronx, she went on to Sarah Lawrence College and New York University Film School. Along the way, she worked in film labs and camera rental houses and as a bartender, made music videos and short films, and wrote the first draft of I Like It Like That.
In 1992, Martin’s short film, Suspect, which examined the treatment of young black people as assumed criminals, won critical acclaim at the New York Public Theater’s Young Black Cinema showcase. After Suspect, Martin served as assistant camera operator for Jonathan Demme‘s documentary Cousin Bobby, about his cousin Robert Castle, an Episcopal pastor who works in Harlem.
In 1994, she directed the Columbia Pictures release I Like It Like That, a romantic comedy-drama about a young woman trying to work at her relationship, keep her family together, assert her self-worth as a person, and keep her sanity all at the same time. In 2001 Martin directed Prison Song, and four years later, Their Eyes Were Watching God.
She has directed episodes of TV shows like Law & Order and Grey’s Anatomy. In 2008, Martin returned to the big screen, writing and directing a musical-drama film based on Leonard Chess and the singers who recorded for Chess Records, titled Cadillac Records. In 2012, she directed the well-received television film Firelight.