To stand out, to be successful, to truly shine in one’s field it takes not only talent but equal amounts of perseverance and persistence. Filmmaker Matthew A. Cherry, the winner of our Best New Talent award, knows this first hand.

Cherry’s atypical career path took him from the gridiron where he spent three years as a wide receiver in the NFL to music video, television and movie sets of Hollywood where he rose through the ranks going from production assistant to director.

The switch from pro football to directing may seem like a drastic change of lanes, but Cherry, like so many other journeymen athletes, knows that all that glitters isn’t gold in pro sports and sometimes your plan B might just be your true calling.

When his brief NFL career was over he relocated to Los Angeles to start a new career in entertainment. After PAing for a number of  TV shows you may be very familiar with (like The Game) and assistant directing videos for the likes of Diddy and many more, he put himself in the main director’s chair doing videos for artists Jazmine Sullivan and Common.

Rather than be limited to music videos he set out to do film through his Transparent Filmworks production company. The transition from videos to film could seem daunting but Cherry feels that there is no reward without risk. “It’s very hard to steal second base with your foot still on first.”

Like any winner, Cherry has drawn inspiration from adversity using his own story of transition from the the NFL into the real world as the foundation of The Last Fall which he wrote and directed.

To the average person the life of a professional athlete is all million-dollar contracts, endorsement deals and the adoration of fans. Cherry’s film, however, tells the more common story of the pro-athlete who struggles to readjust to life once his career is over. Combining a compelling coming of age story with romantic drama the film stars Lance Gross opposite Nicole Beharie and has received critical acclaim for its riveting portrayal of life after sports.

We are proud to give the Shine Award for Best New Talent to Matthew A. Cherry, who’s a shining example of how to keep running and winning, well past the point most folks say “Game over.”

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