Tanya Kersey, a former actress, entertainment journalist and radio host who founded the Hollywood Black Film Festival, died Monday in Rancho Cucamonga, California, after a long health battle. She was 61.
Kersey’s daughters Monique Love and Brittany Love posted the news of their mother’s passing on their Facebook pages.
“As many of you know, my mom has been battling multiple health issues for many years with dignity and grace. Although we will miss her dearly, we find solace that she is no longer in pain. She is now in perfect peace with her Mom & Dad,” Monique said in her post.
A family friend set up a GoFundMe page to help Kersey’s daughters with expenses.
Born in New York City, Kersey modeled at an early age and graduated from college before moving to Southern California.
She founded the Hollywood Black Film in 1998 with a mission of helping independent filmmakers bring attention to their projects.
According to the HBFF website, over 1,000 films from the U.S., Canada and 25 countries around the world have screened at the festival.
Often referred to as “The Black Sundance,” the annual celebration of Black cinema has drawn writers, executives, emerging artists and industry veterans, including Forest Whitaker, Bill Duke, Ice-T, Blair Underwood, Essence Atkins, Sanaa Lathan, Loretta Devine, Debra Martin Chase, and the late John Singleton.
Tanya also ran The Kersey Group, a film consulting firm that worked with individuals, businesses, organizations, universities and government agencies. Prior to the film festival and consulting firm, she founded entertainment industry trade publication Black Talent News and its website BlackTalentNews.com.
Kersey prided herself on helping up-and-coming filmmakers navigate Hollywood.
“When I was starting out, I didn’t have anyone to show me the ropes so I learned by trial and error, wasting lots of time and thousands of dollars,” she said in a quote on her personal website. “I’m here to share my years of knowledge and experience to guide and direct you towards making the right moves, the right way, so you can achieve the career success you’ve been dreaming of.”