Hollywood is mourning the loss of Tanya Kersey, the founder of the Hollywood Black Film Festival.

She was 61 and died in Rancho Cucamonga from cardiac arrest after dealing with several health issues in recent years. Kersey’s daughter Monique confirmed the news to The Hollywood Reporter. Kersey appeared on soap operas and also worked as a model before making the transition behind the scenes. A GoFundMe has been set up by her family to cover funeral expenses. 

She founded Hollywood Black Film Festival in 1998

Kersey launched the Hollywood Black Film Festival in 1998 and it ran for 20 years. Her family hopes to bring it back next year. The festival is known as a celebration of Black cinema and brought together established talents and up-and-coming indie creatives.

It was referred to as “Black Sundance” in its early years, screening more than 1,000 independent films from the U.S. and 25 other countries in its run.

The festival saw many notable attendees. Big names who attended over the years included Sidney Poitier, Forest Whitaker, John Singleton, Tim Story, Malcolm Lee, Bill Duke, Devon Franklin, George Tillman, Ice-T, Blair Underwood, Sanaa Lathan, Loretta Devine and Debra Martin Chase.

Kersey also ran the trade publication 'Black Talent News,' which was established in 1994 ran through 2008.

Per THR, Monique and Kersey’s other daughter, Brittnay, are hoping to revive the Hollywood Black Film Festival next year. It was last held in 2018.

Kersey’s other survivors include her grandsons, Dewayne and Datari, and her sister, Lisa.

Our thoughts are with her family at this time.