Ernest R. Dickerson attended Howard University, where he majored in architecture and photography. In the latter capacity, Dickerson filmed student operations for Howard's medical school. He went on to New York University, where he manned the cameras for fellow student Spike Lee's first directorial project, Joe's Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads. He matriculated to professional director of photography for the 1984 John Sayles feature Brother From Another Planet. Two years later, he renewed his association with Spike Lee, photographing such efforts as She's Gotta Have It (1986), School Daze (1988), Do the Right Thing (1989), Mo' Better Blues (1990), Jungle Fever (1991), and Malcolm X (1992). He also added a welcome dash of cinematic know-how to "monologue" films like Robert Townsend's Eddie Murphy Raw and Eric Bogosian's Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll. Dickerson made his directorial debut with Juice (1992), a Lee-like dissection of a black street gang. Ernest Dickerson has since directed several episodes of the 1992 TV revival of The Untouchables (1993), as well as the feature-length Surviving the Game (1994), and Tales From the Crypt Presents: Demon Knights (1995).
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Was the cinematographer for Spike Lee's NYU thesis film, Joe's Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads (1983), and later won a New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Cinematography for Lee's Do the Right Thing (1989).
- Made his directorial debut in 1992 with Juice.
- Won a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Single Camera Photography (Film or Electronic) for the TV-movie Our America (2002).
- Has directed several popular rappers, including Tupac Shakur in Juice, Ice-T in Surviving the Game (1994), Snoop Dogg in Bones (2001) and DMX in Never Die Alone (2004).