Jamal credits the time he spent as a youth in the Black Panther Party and Leavenworth Federal Prison as the fire that forged his creative sword.
He is a Professor of Professional Practice and the former Chair of Columbia University’s Graduate Film Program. As an artist/activist he has worked in film,theater, spoken word, music and books. He has written and directed for Starz, HBO, Fox TV, New Line Cinema, Warner Bros., and A&E. His produced screenplays include Ali: An American Hero (Fox), New York Undercover (Fox), Knights of the South Bronx (A&E), and The Many Trials of Tammy B. (Nickelodeon). He wrote and directed Drive By: A Love Story, Da Zone, and the docudrama Hughes Dreams Harlem (PBS.) He wrote and directed Drive By: A Love Story, Da Zone, and the docudrama Hughes Dreams Harlem (PBS.) His memoir “Panther Baby” based on his experiences as a youth in the Black Panther Party was published by Algonquin Books.
He is also the author of “Tupac Legacy” an interactive biography about Tupac Shakur. Jamal is the Co Founder and Artistic Director of IMPACT, a Harlem-based youth theatre company, and executive director of New Heritage Films, a not-for-profit organization that provides training and opportunities for minority filmmakers. Jamal wrote and directed the independent feature film “Chapter and Verse” starring Daniel Beaty, Loretta Divine and Omari Hardwick. He has received a Cine Golden Eagle, a Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame Award, a Union Square Award, the Purpose Prize and a best song Oscar nomination for the film “August Rush.