This is the kind of herstory we love learning about: Lillian E. Benson was the first African-American female member of the American Cinema Editors (Ace), a prestigious honorary society of film editors. Now the trailblazer is set to be honored by The Motion Picture Editors Guild (Local 700 Iatse) with its Fellowship and Service Award, The Hollywood Reporter writes.
Benson, an adjunct professor at USC, launched her career in New York. She received an Emmy nomination in 1991 for “Eyes on the Prize II,” Jacqueline Shearer’s PBS docuseries about the Civil Rights Movement. A year later, she was welcomed into American Cinema Editors.
“She is currently editing NBC’s ‘Chicago Med’ and in 2016 worked on the Oprah Winfrey/Craig Wright drama ‘Greenleaf,’” THR reports. Benson also served on the editorial team of Rita Coburn Whack and Bob Hercules’ 2016 doc “Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise,” a portrait of the late American poet and civil rights activist.
Benson has also stepped behind the camera as a director. She helmed an episode of the PBS children’s series “The Big Blue Marble,” and the 2004 documentary short about firefighters of color who died at the World Trade Center, “All Our Sons: Fallen Heroes of 9/11.” Benson recently completed her second doc, this one about a choral arranger, “Amen: The Life and Music of Jester Hairston.”
“Lillian E. Benson has a had a long career editing influential and socially conscious films, and has been long active in working to increase minority participation in the filmmaking process,” said Mpeg president and Academy Award-winner Alan Heim. “In addition, she has been an active member of the board of directors for the American Cinema Editors as secretary and co-chair of the diversity committee.”
Benson will accept her honor during a dinner April 8 in Los Angeles. The Mpeg award will be presented to her by director and producer Zeinabu Irene Davis, a friend and collaborator of Benson’s.
This year marked the first time that an African-American woman received an Oscar nomination for editing. Joi McMillon was recognized for her work on “Moonlight.”
Check out a video of Benson discussing her craft and career below.
Lillian E. Benson to Be Honored by Motion Picture Editors Guild was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.