The evolution of Shawnette Heard into filmmaker seemed the logical next step for the creative dynamo, whose talents as an artistic director, choreographer, and dancer have earned her an enviable career full of collaborations with some of the most iconic names in pop music history. Shaped by her experiences working with the likes of Janet Jackson, Beyonce, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Pink and others, Shawnette’s innovation as a director stems from her innate understanding of how to communicate story through arresting imagery, rhythm, and dynamic movement.
Shawnette started in dance when her mother enrolled her in an after school arts program at the Inglewood Playhouse run by Ruth Ashton Blake. She continued her training at Cal Arts University, excelling in their intensive dance program. Shawnette quickly gained recognition from established artists including none other than pop superstar Janet Jackson, who invited Shawnette to join her exclusive team of dancers, thus beginning an artistic collaboration that would last a decade. While working with Jackson, Shawnette steadily ascended from dancer, to choreographer, and ultimately to co-creator/artistic director for Janet’s “All For You World Tour,” which went on to become one of the top grossing tours of that year.
From this incredible platform, Shawnette gained international attention. Naime Amuro, dubbed “The Queen of Japanese Pop Music” hired Shawnette to choreograph one of her hit singles. Amr Diab, one of the best selling Arab artists of all time, commissioned Shawnette to choreograph his first music video in the states which then led to her staging his performance for the World Music Awards in Monaco. Her multi-national presence also led to one of her most fulfilling ventures, serving as the creator, choreographer, and artistic director for Japan’s Osaka School of Music’s annual performance ceremonies. In her continuing position as the school’s International Educational Supporter, she is afforded the opportunity to give back and support the growth of students, just as she’d been encouraged as a young dancer.
With a gift as enormous as Shawnette’s, it was inevitable that her creativity would seek its next expression. As in-house creative director/ director for full service production company Spittn’ Image, Shawnette is adapting the magic she creates for artists on stage to the screen. Some of her most recent work includes the music video “Comfortable Swagg” for Grammy nominated R&B singer Jon B., and three music videos for independent young pop artist Temara Melek, who is quickly ascending from relative unknown to YouTube sensation due in great part to her appealing music videos. Shawnette also directed the award winning short film, “John Doe,” which received the 2012 prize for Best Diaspora from the Pan African Film Festival affiliated AMAA Awards, as well as two 2011 Holly Shorts Awards for Audience Choice and Best Short Film shot in Los Angeles.
Shawnette’s willingness to break rules, push boundaries and work organically, letting the needs of the artists or scripts dictate her approach, is what makes her work so exciting. Her work ethic, passion for art, and cutting edge style will undoubtedly mark this latest chapter as another success in an already remarkable career.