Maria P. Williams
Maria P. Williams, who, like Tressie Souders, also lived in Kansas City, Missouri, produced, distributed, and acted in her own film, The Flames of Wrath (1923). The Norfolk Journal and Guide, as quoted by Yvonne Welbon, thus lauded her: “Kansas City is claiming the honor of having the first colored woman film producer in the United States…” (40). Recall that Kansas City had made the same claim for Souders the year before. There is also, however, the question of the difference between “director” and “producer,” which makes an important distinction between the two since Souders is credited with directing, producing, and writing, and Williams with producing and writing, but not directing. “Producing,” it should be noted, is often used ambiguously in the silent era. The Flames of Wrath, for instance, is described on the first page of the Norfolk Journal and Guide as a mystery drama in five reels, “written, acted and produced entirely by colored people” (Welbon, 40).
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