Adrienne Whaley is the Executive Director of Queens Underground Film Festival and a symbol of creativity in Southeast Queens.
Hailing from a creative family in the equally creative neighborhood of Jamaica, Adrienne Whaley found herself immersed in the music of James Brown, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis and LL Cool J.
After working in education for 13 years, Whaley decided to build a platform to promote a diverse group of creative minds.
“Growing up, I felt normal with all this creativity around,” said Whaley, who holds dual Master’s Degrees in education. “But growing up back then, they really discouraged you from going into the visual or the fashion arts as a minority.”
She opened her own studio in Southeast Queens, where she would hold community events like karaoke, movie nights, and sip-and-paint events, while also renting the space out to other community groups.
In October 2019, she launched the Queens Underground Film Festival, today serving as executive director.
The first Black History Month film festival was held at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center in February 2020. The sold-out red carpet event was the culmination of Whaley’s vision and creativity, with guests and filmmakers flying in from across the country.
“What makes our film festival different is that we have movie shorts, music videos, dance and poetry videos, web series, talk show episodes, small business commercials and animation,” said Whaley.
When the pandemic took away live entertainment and festivals just weeks later, Whaley and the film festival went virtual.
When restrictions were eased, she organized a three-day event in her backyard last October. Thomasina’s Catering Hall in St. Albans hosted the organization’s film festival this past April.
Whaley says she is planning for next year’s Black History Month film festival to be both in-person and virtual, with the theme of “Black Wall Street.” Learn more at queensunderground718.com.