Ashley O'Shay

Ashley O’Shay is a director and DP living in Chicago. Her work focuses on illuminating marginalized voices. She specializes in immersive stories, recognizing the societal impact of observing life as is. She’s brought her unique style beyond the documentary space, collaborating with a number of national brands, including Lyft, Nike, Vox, and Dr. Martens. Most recently, her cinematography appeared in Founder Girls, a 2022 Queen Collective film that premiered at Tribeca 2023.

In 2020, she premiered her debut feature Unapologetic, which captures two fierce abolitionists whose upbringing and experiences shape their activism and views on Black liberation. The film premiered at the 2020 BlackStar Film Festival, broadcast on PBS POV, and was shortlisted for the International Documentary Association Awards. Ashley was also selected as the recipient of the 2021 Athena Film Festival Breakthrough Award, 2021 Cleveland International Film Festival Groundbreaker Award, and DOC NYC’s 40 Under 40 List.  Ashley is currently wrapping up post-production on In Due Season, a short documentary commissioned by the American Cancer Society, illuminating the issue of Medicaid expansion and its disproportionate effect on Black Americans.


This documentary reflects on the legacy of a Black family from Tuskegee, Alabama, centered on filmmaker Ashley O’Shay’s late grandfather, Melvin Lewis. Having lost their patriarch’s home, the film weaves together memories of his living descendants, examining a Black family’s plight in the small town South and determination to remain connected.


Unapolagetic (Documentary Lab)
Southmont Drive (PBS/Firelight William Greaves Production Fund)

Program Affiliations

Documentary Lab
Impact Campaign Fund
PBS/Firelight William Greaves Production Fund

Cohort Year

2015-2017 (Documentary Lab)
2020 (Impact Campaign Fund)
2024 (PBS/Firelight William Greaves Production Fund)




Documentary Lab
Impact Campaign Fund
PBS/Firelight William Greaves Production Fund

Other Filmakers