Shaz Bennett’s debut feature film ALASKA IS A DRAG, that she wrote & directed won best feature film and Jury awards for Best Director at Leeds, Chattanooga, Urbanworld and the Smithsonian African American Film Festival and New Filmmakers LA. The film was released on Netflix by ARRAY Releasing.
Shaz directed her first episodic for QUEEN SUGAR on the Oprah Winfrey Network. She has since directed numerous episodes of TV including BILLIONS on Showtime, ANIMAL KINGDOM (TNT), four more episodes of QUEEN SUGAR (OWN) ORDINARY JOE (NBC).
Shaz wrote and directed in Seasons 6 and 7 on QUEEN SUGAR and served as the Showrunner and Executive Producer for the final season with Ava DuVernay. Shaz's first television writing job was on THE GLADES on A&E. She later joined the writing team for UnREAL on Lifetime and produced the popular spin off THE FAITH DIARIES. Shaz wrote for the mini-room for SUPER PUMPED on Showtime and four season of the acclaimed Amazon show BOSCH based on the books of Michael Connelly. Shaz co-wrote with Sydney Freeland the pilot SOVEREIGN that sold to NBC with Ava Duvernay, Bird Runningwater and Warner Bros producing.
Before working in film and television, Shaz worked in a fish cannery; bartended at a mafia bar; was a film programmer at Sundance, LA Film Festival and AFI FEST; peddled liquor undercover; developed films for actor Giancarlo Esposito; and was Cher’s stand-in for a day. Her films and performance pieces have been seen in festivals, theatres, museums and abandoned warehouses all over the United States, Mexico, Canada, South Africa and Europe.
One of 8 women selected to the prestigious AFI Directing Workshop for Women, nominated as one of Fox's Top 20 Directors, selected into Ryan Murphy's HALF program, Sundance Screenwriting Labs and Film Two with director Crystal Moselle (THE WOLFPACK, SKATE KITCHEN), and Fox's inaugural Franchise Directing program (DIE HARD).
Shaz's original pilot THE SALT FLATS was included as one of the top unproduced scripts written by women -- available now!