Date of Birth: April 1, 1972
Born to an African American father and a white mother, Allen Hughes hails from Detroit. By the time he was reached 12
years of age, his family had moved to California, where he and his twin brother Albert were first introduced to
filmmaking when their mother lent them a video camera. Instead of returning it, the two spent much of their spare time
making their own short movies.
Formal film education began during their freshman year of high school when Allen took a TV production class. The two,
encouraged by their teacher to make a 'How To' film, made a short film entitled How To Be A Burglar, and people
began to take notice. Their next work, Uncensored Videos was broadcast on cable, introducing them to a wider
audience. The duo obtained an agent and subsequently found themselves directing music videos for rap
artists such as Tupac Shakur, Tone-Loc and Digital Underground.
In the early '90s they raised over $2.5 million to make their first feature film, Menace II Society,
which made its world premiere at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival. Set in the grim surroundings of South Central Los
Angeles, the film focuses on a young street hustler attempting to escape the rigors and temptations of the ghetto in a
quest for a better life. The gritty, yet poetic contemporary gangster film went on to earn both respectful reviews
and nearly $30 million in domestic box-office receipts. In addition, it was chosen as one of the 10 best films of the
year by several major critics across the country, and received Best Picture honors at the 1994 MTV Movie Awards.
Following the success of Menace, they set up Underworld Records, their own rap/rhythm & blues label, at Capitol Records.
Two years later they released their second feature, the early 1970s-set Dead Presidents. The film,
which was not well received by box office or critics,
focused on the traumas faced by African American veterans returning home from Vietnam.
To finish off the '90s, the Hughes brothers completed the feature-length
documentary American Pimp, which examines the men behind the world's oldest profession. This was
immediately followed by the Jack the Ripper biopic From Hell, which marked their first for the 21st
century. The film takes place in the 1880's England and is based on an investigation into the murders, and their alleged
link to the Royal family.
Allen then branched out on his own, directing the TV movie Touching Evil (2004) and the subsequent series.
He then directed the TV movie Knights of the South Bronx (2005), starring Ted Danson, before returning to the
big screen to direct a segment of New York, I Love You (2009). In 2012 he made his first solo feature
film as a director with Broken City, starring Mark Wahlberg.
Allen resides in Los Angeles.
New York, I Love You
The Book of Eli
American Pimp (1999)
Dead Presidents (1995)
Menace II Society (1993)