Cinematographer LaDawn Manuel taps into something deeper within the human psyche when one watches anything she’s worked on. The 26-year old Cleveland native, through a number of mediums and types of film provides a rooted yet passionate experience that is meant to evoke emotion from the consumer. “I want you to go on that roller coaster of emotions…I want you to feel passion,” Manuel says. The breadth of her work can be felt in various channels and various genres showing the range and experience she’s obtained during her tenure. Manuel is a craftsman in film who takes every part of the process seriously in order to instill the pathos in her work when you see it on screen. As we near the halfway point of 2021, Manuel has multiple projects set to release as she continues to grow and train in her field.
Growing up Manuel always had a genuine and organic interest in art, of all kinds. She was naturally gifted in drawing and painting, but also had curiosity in music, photography and more. After attending undergrad at Ohio University, LaDawn already had a hefty resume under her belt and this eventually led the prolific creative to Howard University. Where things changed. Attending Howard exposed Manuel to all types of Black creatives who took their craft seriously, but was also among legends who respected the art. In fact, while at Howard University LaDawn would introduce her work to Bradford Young (Pariah, Black America Again, Selma, Star Wars & more) who graduated from Howard. Their second session would come and Young was inspired and impressed by the work Manuel had done over the course of her journey so far. She would also work with Hans Charles, all of this and the environment of Howard struck a fire in LaDawn Manuel to become the creative we see before us today.
Manuel has a breadth of experience across various mediums of media solidifying her place as a craftsman in the film and television space. It’s not just about recording footage for LaDawn, “I want you to feel my films when you watch them,” she says, “I want it to feel like jazz mixed with blues, mixed with chopped and screwed, I want to tell stories how they truly happen.” She looks to break away from the stereotypical tropes we usually see in some Black films. Pick a position in a film and chances are LaDawn has worked that position and excelled at it, Gaffer, Grip, Production Assistant, Director and more. Throughout the course of her career, others have noticed her versatility and raw work ethic as Manuel has collaborated with MTV, BET, Henry Louis Gates Jr, VICE, Meagan Good, National Geographic, PBS and countless others. Despite the mass of credits she’s obtained, LaDawn has taught at Howard University and Montgomery College constantly paying the knowledge forward. It doesn’t end there though as Manuel is the winner of Best Cinematographer at the Paul Robeson awards for her work on Orchid Boys. As we approach the halfway point of 2021, the grind doesn’t stop for LaDawn Manuel as this year sees the release of multiple projects and films in the works like ‘The Problem With Erin’ and ‘Cult Following’ both of which are in post production right now. – Michael Stover | Artist Development & MBHT