Ida B. Wells: Facing Down Storms Production Team

Biographies of Key Crew Members

Daphene McFerrenDaphene R. McFerren, Hooks Institute
Director, Executive Producer, Producer, and Co-Writer

Daphene McFerren has produced, or been a member of the production team on, the following documentaries: Freedoms Front Line: Fayette County, TN (2008) which tells the story the grassroots civil rights movement in that county from the 1950s-1970s (2008 Director’s Choice Award, Black Maria Film and Video Festival); Duty of the Hour (2016; executive producer) a documentary film about the life of civil rights activist Benjamin L. Hooks, which is broadcast in public television stations across the country including KCET Los Angeles, the second largest public television stations in the country (2013, Director’s Citation, Black Maria Film and Video Festival and 2016, Recognition, Congressional Black Caucus Veterans Braintrust); and The Civil Rights Movement: A Cultural Revolution (2014), which details the impact of the civil rights movement on culture, fashion, and music of the United States (Silver Telly, Film/Video; People's Telly; Bronze Telly, Cultural (2014 Telly Awards), and an Award of Merit, 2014 Best Shorts Competition).

Daphene R. McFerren is the executive director of the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University of Memphis.  She is responsible for strategic initiatives, staff management, and program and financial oversight of Hooks Institute operations.  Ms. McFerren grew up in Fayette County, TN where she completed public high school. She attended Yale College and Harvard Law School.

Prior to joining the Hooks Institute, McFerren was in private practice in Washington, DC; was senior counsel in the Office of General Counsel at the United States Securities and Exchange Commission; was counsel to the late Attorney General Janet Reno; and was later Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Maryland prosecuting, among other cases, forced labor and involuntary servitude cases involving foreign victims.

Nathaniel BallNathaniel C. Ball, Hooks Institute
Executive Producer, Co-Director, Producer, and Writer

Nathaniel C. Ball, MA is an accomplished researcher, filmmaker, and historian. Ball was recognized for excellence in historical writing winning the Major J. Wilson Graduate Paper Prize in 2015. As a filmmaker Ball received awards as co-producer of the Civil Rights Movement: A Cultural Revolution (2014) which details the impact of the civil rights movement on culture, fashion, and music of the United States (Silver Telly, Film/Video; People's Telly; Bronze Telly, Cultural (2014 Telly Awards), and an Award of Merit, 2014 Best Shorts Competition); and as a producer for the student short San Diego (2011) (audience choice award, student film category, 2011 Indie Memphis Film Festival). Ball earned a BA in Communications with a focus on Film and Video Production (2011) and an MA in History (2015) from the University of Memphis.

As the media and programs coordinator, Ball serves an essential role in the programmatic efforts of the Hooks Institute including documentary and media productions, the Hooks Institute Lecture Series, the Hooks African American Male Initiative, and the research and community engagement initiatives of the Institute. In this role Ball assists the staff in fundraising, marketing, grant writing, and program implementation. Ball is heavily involved in the production of the Hooks Institute films, where he has produced, written, and/or edited several documentaries and short films on historical civil rights movements, and promotional materials for the Hooks Institute. These films can be found on the Hooks Institute’s YouTube page youtube.com/benlhooksinstitute.

Fabian MatthewsFabian Matthews, Spotlight Productions
Producer, Editor, and Videographer

Founder and owner of Spotlight Productions, LLC in Memphis, TN, Fabian L. Matthews has been a bright light on the Mid-South video, commercial, TV, and movie scene for over 20 years. 

A 1995 graduate of Arkansas State University’s School of Radio and Television, Matthews began his journey in 1994 at KAIT TV in Jonesboro, AR as a producer/director writing, shooting, and editing commercial advertisements. He also produced and directed long and short format programs including the ASU Coaches’ shows, and entertainment-oriented programming for the station. 

Matthews has worked with the Hooks Institute to produce promotional shorts for Hooks Institute events and programs, and documentary films including The Civil Rights Movement: A Cultural Revolution (2014).

Matthews’ achievements include an NATAS Emmy Nomination (Entertainment Non-News) 1997, NATAS Emmy Award (Documentary) 1999, NATAS Emmy Award (In-House Promotional Spot/Non-News) 1999 , NATAS Emmy Nomination (Sports Program-Post Produced) 1999, 10 Telly Awards (Documentary) 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2008, 2013, 2016, and National Association of Black Journalist (NABJ) Regional Award (Public Affairs) 1998.

Tonya SmithTonya Smith

Tonya Smith is a graphic designer with 27 years of experience in television and fine arts. She began her artistic career in Birmingham, Alabama at the University of Alabama Birmingham where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Art Studio. Smith’s career began in television at Red MountainWBRC television station as a graphic designer.  Her responsibilities included conceptualizing and executing special openings and helping to create and implement graphic packages. Smith was promoted to WBRC Art Director where she was known for her work ethic and creative style. In 2006, Smith became the Art Director/Promotion Manager on WMC Action News 5’s marketing team (Memphis, Tennessee). Smith’s work has received several Emmy nominations.

Anthony SmithAnthony Smith

Anthony Smith is Music Supervisor and Music Director in Residence at Virginia Repertory Theatre in Richmond, Virginia. Formally educated in flute, piano, vocal, and percussion performance, Anthony has won several regional and national competitions on each of his instruments and has had the privilege of studying with and participating in masterclasses led by some of the top artists in the world. An active proponent of new music, Anthony has been involved in the world premieres of several new musicals and operas, most recently “Atlantis” by Matthew Lee Robinson, Ken Cerniglia, and Scott Anderson Morris, "The Snow Maiden" by Andrew Haile Austin, and "Kept" by Kristin Kuster and Megan Levad. He’s also a frequent collaborator of the Chamber Music Society of Virginia, The Virginia Chorale, and the Virginia Arts Festival.

Anthony is also an in-demand arranger and orchestrator, having recently created and conducted a two-piano version of "Porgy and Bess" for Red Mountain Theatre Company (Birmingham, AL) under the auspices of the Gershwin Estate.

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