Maya Angelou was a celebrated author and poet, and also a filmmaker: Angelou, who died on May 28 at the age of 86, made the 1998 film "Down in the Delta," which was released by Miramax on Dec. 25 of that year. It was the only feature film she ever directed.
Based on an original script by Myron Goble, "Down in the Delta" focused on Loretta (Alfre Woodard), a struggling single parent who gets sent to Mississippi by her mother (Mary Alice) to clean up her life. There, Loretta meets a coterie of family and friends. Wesley Snipes and Loretta Divine co-starred.
"Angelou's first-time direction stays out of its own way; she doesn't call attention to herself with unnecessary visual touches, but focuses on the business at hand," Ebert wrote. "She and Goble are interested in what might happen in a situation like this, not in how they can manipulate the audience with phony crises."
In addition to "Down in the Delta," Angelou directed an episode of "Visions." As an actress, she appeared in the hit miniseries "Roots," the 1993 film "Poetic Justice" with Janet Jackson, "How to Make an American Quilt" and an episode of "Touched by an Angel." Angelou is credited as co-writer on the 1979 television adaptation of "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," her iconic autobiography. She last appeared onscreen in 2006's "Madea's Family Reunion."
More about Angelou's death can be found here.
[h/t The Film Stage]