Hanelle M. Culpepper is an award-winning writer/director/producer based in Los Angeles. Her first feature, Within, which was produced by Bigfoot Entertainment, won Outstanding Feature Film at the Big Bear Horror Film Festival and the Tabloid Witch Award for Best Horror Film, Best Child Actress and Best Supporting Actor. It is currently airing on Lifetime.
Her second feature, the made-for-television Deadly Sibling Rivalry, premiered on Lifetime this summer. It stars Charisma Carpenter and Kyle Richards.
Culpepper’s filmmaking career began when her first screenplay earned her admission into Bill Cosby’s prestigious screenwriting program for African-American writers and FIND’s Screenwriters Lab. But it was Culpepper’s directorial debut, The Wedding Dress, that launched her as an emerging director to watch. The romantic comedy short won awards in film festivals worldwide and appeared on both national broadcast and cable television.
Culpepper’s next endeavor was the dramatic short A Single Rose, which she directed with a grant from the AFI Directing Workshop for Women. A Single Rose screened at film festivals worldwide and won numerous awards including Best Short, Best Director, Best Actress and Best Music. In May 2004, it screened at the Cannes Film Festival as part of the ICG Showcase and in 2005, ranked among finalist shorts for consideration for an Academy Award nomination.
Culpepper has shown her versatility as a director with shorts in a variety of genres including the satiric and highly-popular Six and the City, the comedy documentary How To Stand In Line For Star Wars, and the dark drama Leila, which features a cameo by Sinbad.
The success of her short films led to professional gigs with Discovery Channel, UCLA, the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, and finally, to her feature directorial debut, Within.
Culpepper graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude with a B.A. in Economics and French from Lake Forest College in suburban Chicago. For graduate studies, she earned a Master’s degree at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication. While at USC, she worked behind the scenes on multiple student film projects in positions from production assistant to producer.
Following her graduation from USC, Hanelle worked for writer/director Neal Israel (Bachelor Party), writer/producer Kathy Kloves (USA Network’s Weekly World News), Academy Award winning screenwriter Callie Khouri (Thelma and Louise), and for the Sundance Institute.