Melissa McClinton, professionally known as Safiya Songhai, is an American film director, Emmy Award-winning television producer and broadcast journalist. The Philadelphia native trained with highly acclaimed playwright Ntozake Shange, “Sankofa” director Haile Gerima and Oscar award-winning director Spike Lee.
Songhai’s first films, “LadyLike” and “In Silent Spaces,” both follow Black female protagonists and explore themes of sisterhood, mother/child relationships, religion, spirituality and the male gaze. Both films earned top honors at film festivals nationwide and later premiered on PBS. “LadyLike” was incorporated into lesson plans in middle school curriculum to teach about religious tolerance and the various interpretations of the feminine ideal.
In addition to filmmaking, Songhai has worked as a television commentator for CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront,” discussing topics concerning racial profiling, the George Zimmerman trial, police brutality and the impact of the murder of Trayvon Martin. Since 2014, Songhai has covered international news as a TV anchor/reporter for Arise News, and Peace News Network. Songhai has also served as voice-over talent for a number of documentaries, commercials, promotional work and PSA’s. As a television producer, Songhai hosted a five-part PBS series on the legacy of Brown vs. the Board of Education and produced the undercover prison-cell footage for the 2-hour “Dateline” special on the BTK Killer.
Songhai travels as a college professor and for panel discussions. Songhai is a summa cum laude graduate of Howard University and completed her MFA at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Kanbar Institute of Film and Television.
- New York University
Tisch School of the Arts - Kanbar Institute of Film & Television
MFA - Film and Television Production
- Howard University
John H. Johnson School of Communications
BA - Film Production, Mass Communications
- Dartmouth College
Studied Film & Media Studies, Creative Writing