Daresha Kyi is an award-winning visionary who writes, produces, and directs for film and television in Spanish and English. A natural born storyteller, she made her first short, experimental film, Schism, at the age of 16. At 19 she was hired as a PA on a documentary film and fell in love with the medium. In an effort to learn every aspect of the business, for years she worked as a PA, AC, AE, AP, you-name-it on a number of NY-based independent narratives and documentaries including, Who Killed Vincent Chin? She also delved into other aspects of filmmaking by working at nonprofit, film-related organizations including Film/Video Arts, Women Make Movies, The Black Filmmaker Foundation, The Film Fund, and Third World Newsreel.
Eventually she enrolled in NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she was awarded a Tisch Scholars fellowship, and graduated with a degree in Film & TV. Her award-winning student film, The Thinnest Line, helped her receive grants from the New York State Council on the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, and other foundations to fund her second film, Land Where My Fathers Died, which she wrote, produced, directed and co-starred in with Isaiah Washington in his on-camera debut. Based upon this multiple award-winning short, she was chosen in a nationwide search to receive a full fellowship from TriStar Pictures to attend the Directors Program at The American Film Institute (AFI). She also produced a documentary short about violence against lesbians called Just Because of Who We Are as part of a women's collective called Heramedia. Her projects have received funding from NEA, NBPC, NYSCA, NYFA, Frameline, Arch & Bruce, Jerome, and the Women in Film Finishing Fund, among others. She is currently a fellow in the Firelight Media Documentary Lab.
Most recently Daresha co-directed and co-produced her first feature documentary, Chavela, with Emmy nominated filmmaker Catherine Gund. Chavela celebrates the wild, rollercoaster life of badass singer Chavela Vargas, who jumped onstage wearing pants, a poncho, and a pistol, smoked cigars, and drank tequila while she boldly sang love songs to women in the early 1950s in a very conservation, muy macho Mexico. The film was nominated for the Teddy award and won the 2nd place Panorama Audience Award at the 2017 Berlinale, as well as Best Documentary and Audience Awards at Outfest and the San Francisco LGBTQ Film Festival. Chavela secured theatrical distribution domestically and internationally and was screened on 160 screens in 42 countries. It is currently streaming on AmazonPrime, GooglePlay, iTunes, youtube, and Vudu. Daresha and Catherine also co-produced Dispatches from Cleveland for Aubin Pictures.
In addition to her film work, Daresha has produced award-winning television for WE, AMC, Oxygen, E!, Telemundo, Bravo, and FUSE, among many other channels. Most recently she served as head writer for the weekend morning talk show, Arise & Shine, hosted by Richard Pryor's daughter, Rain Pryor, as a story producer on La Voz Kids (Telemundo's The Voice for children), and as a field producer on FXX's Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell.
Daresha is currently a fellow in the Firelight Media Documentary Lab.