Shirley Vernae Williams is an accomplished director and Emmy-nominated producer from New Haven, Connecticut. With over 10 years of experience, Shirley has contributed to several television and digital projects including the New York Times People Matter, History Channel’s Alone, and several Vice and Refinery29 series which collectively have generated over 67 million views.
In 2007, Shirley founded the production company Willie B. Productions which focuses on projects that inspire and transform lives through the moving image. In April 2021, Shirley raised over $65,000 for her documentary feature film A Break in Belonging which reveals the untold story of Martin Thomas, a formerly incarcerated pastor determined to rebuild family bonds and the lives of returning citizens being released from prison. The film is currently in pre-production and Shirley plans to begin principal photography in Fall 2021.
Shirley is passionate about directing and producing content with an emphasis on empowerment and education. Most recently, Shirley directed a five part branded series for Adidas and served as Director/Producer for short films for First Response and Center For Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). She also post produced a feature length documentary entitled Intent to Destroy that premiered at Tribeca Film Festival, and a documentary for Annenberg Space For Photography about the rich history of walls. While her directing and producing credits include projects with Ritz, Garden of Life and Roc Nation, Shirley has her sights on expanding into directing feature films and scripted series.
In conjunction with her directing and producing work, Shirley is actively involved in mentorship. She is the Head of Strategic Planning and Partnerships for HUE You Know, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowerment, employment and equity within the entertainment industry. Within the organization, she creates key relationships with reputable community programs that have an emphasis on inclusion in media. In addition, Shirley is a board member of Post New York Alliance, Foresight For-Givers Foundation and an active member of Producers Guild Association and New York Women in Film and Television. Shirley loves building safe spaces for creatives of color in and around the production world and is focused on creating opportunities for content creators across film, digital and television programming.
When Shirley is not setting up shots or sitting on panels, she is traveling the world and exploring the sights and sounds of tropical islands.