Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise

The first feature film about Maya Angelou, an iconic writer who contributed to the 20th century's most pivotal social movements.

Film Signature Image
American Masters
Premiere Date
February 21, 2017
120 minutes
Funding Initiative
Series and Special Projects
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2017 Peabody Awards-George Foster Peabody Award
  • Nominated laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2016 International Documentary Association (IDA)-ABC News VideoSource Award
  • Nominated laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2016 NAACP Image Award-Outstanding Documentary – (Film)
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2016 AFI Docs Film Festival-Audience Award for Best Feature
  • Producer/Director

    Bob Hercules

    Bob Hercules’ work includes Bill T. Jones: A Good Man and Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance, both of which aired on PBS’s American Masters series. A Good Man was an official selection at Full Frame, IDFA, Silverdocs, DOXA, and many other festivals. Joffrey was the opening night film at the Dance on Camera Film Festival at Lincoln Center in 2012 and the Show more closing night film at the San Francisco Dance Film Festival. His 2006 film, Forgiving Dr. Mengele, was shown at film festivals around the world and won the Special Jury Prize at the 2006 Slamdance Film Festival. Show less

    Headshot of Rita Coburn

    Rita Coburn

    Rita Coburn Whack has produced the award-winning Maya Angelou Show on Oprah Radio, numerous Maya Angelou Black History Month Specials, and three Emmy Award-winning television documentaries airing on C-SPAN and the History Channel.

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    The Film

    At the time of Maya Angelou’s death, May 28, 2014, she was participating in the first feature documentary about her life for Maya Angelou: The People’s Poet. Co-directors/producers Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack last interviewed Dr. Angelou in January 2014, and look forward to her taking her rightful place in the American Masters series, albeit posthumously.

    An eloquent poet, writer and performer, Maya Angelou’s life intersected with the civil rights struggle, the Harlem Writers Guild, the New Africa movement, the women’s movement, and the cultural and political realignments of the 1970s and ‘80s. Her first book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, catapulted Dr. Angelou onto the literary stage and became an international best-seller. She appeared in numerous documentaries, talk shows, and feature films, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, yet shockingly, has never been the subject of her own feature documentary.

    Having lived such a rich, passionate life and been a witness, as well as a participant, in some of the most profound periods of the last century, her full biography is extraordinarily rich and varied. Dr. Angelou lived not one life, but half a dozen, and yet parts of her story have fallen into obscurity. Maya Angelou: The People’s Poet reflects on how the events of history, culture, and the arts shaped her life and how she, in turn, helped shape our own world view through her autobiographical literature and activism.