Amma Asante (born 13 September 1969) is a Ghanian-British filmmaker, screenwriter, former actress, and Chancellor at Norwich University of the Arts, who was born in London to parents from Ghana. She has received numerous accolades from festivals around the world for her directorial work on her feature films, which typically explore social issues like cultural conflict and gender/racial roles.
Asante attended the Barbara Speake Stage School in Acton, where she trained in dance and drama. It was there that she drafted her first script. Later, Asante became a child actress, performing in Grange Hill and other British series. She appeared in the "Just Say No" anti-drugs campaign of the 1980s and was one of nine Grange Hill child actors to travel to the White House for a meeting with then-First Lady Nancy Reagan. In her late teens, Asante left acting and worked in screenwriting. She founded a production company, Tantrum Films, where she wrote and produced two series of the drama Brothers and Sisters in the late 1990s. In 2004, Asante used the company to make her directorial debut with the feature film A Way of Life, which then received multiple awards and honours from around the world. Accolades in her home country included London Film Festival's inaugural Alfred Dunhill UK Film Talent Award, a BAFTA Film Award, and nominations for Best Newcomer from both the Evening Standard and the London Film Critics.
Her second feature film, a 2013 period drama titled Belle, was also critically acclaimed and became one of the most successful independent releases of the year. It garnered eight awards and eighteen other nominations at various festivals, including a British Independent Film Award and two NAACP Image Awards. In January 2014, Asante won the Palm Springs International Film Festival's Directors to Watch Award. The following month, a special screening of the film took place at the United Nations headquarters, as well as in both Los Angeles and New York to honor BAFTA's naming of Asante as a "Brit to Watch."
A United Kingdom, Asante's third feature film, was screened at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival and opened the 60th London Film Festival. Like her other works, it received several nominations at film festivals. For this piece, Asante herself won the 2018 Black Reel for Outstanding World Cinema Motion Picture and was nominated for the Women Film Critics Circle's Courage in Filmmaking Award.
In 2018, her feature film Where Hands Touch released to mixed-to-negative reviews. She directed two episodes each of The Handmaid's Tale in 2019 and Mrs. America in 2020.
The London Film School made Asante an Honorary Associate in 2014. She has previously served as an elected member of BAFTA Council and as a BAFTA Film committee member. In 2017, Asante was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for her service to film. The following year, she became the first female recipient of the British Urban Film Festival's honorary award for outstanding contribution to film and television, the highest honour at the festival. In 2020, Norwich University of the Arts appointed Asante as their new chancellor. Powerlist listed Asante in its 2020 and 2021 lists of the top 100 most influential people in the UK of African/African-Caribbean descent.