Joann Self Selvidge founded True Story Pictures in 2004 - and again in 2010 - first as a nonprofit, and later as a social venture company. She has a passion for stories and storytelling that is grounded in her roots as a Southerner. Her life story films and documentaries, including The WLOK Story (2002), The Arts Interviews (2005-2008), Leveling the Playing Field (2008), Voices of Jericho (2007, 2010), The Music Interviews (2009), and The Art Academy (2012), share stories of music and art, race relations and leadership, education, inspiration, and social justice. 

The Arts Interviews, an educational series that features older visual artists sharing their life stories and creative work, was distributed with a teacher’s guide and is currently used throughout the Memphis and Shelby County public school systems and in many other private institutions, both high schools and colleges, including the Harvard Fine Arts Library. In 2009, upon dissolution of the nonprofit True Story Pictures, Selvidge and her former board of directors donated more than 300 hours of in-depth life story interviews with people from all walks of life to the Crossroads to Freedom Digital Archive at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN.

Her short film about individuals with mental illness, Voices of Jericho: Stories of Jail Diversion, was awarded “Best Documentary” at the 2007 Indie Memphis Film Festival and “Grand Jury Award” at the 2008 Southern Shorts Film Festival in Athens, AL. Through a partnership with the Shelby County Public Defender, more than 1,200 copies of the film have been distributed, and today it is being used in criminal justice systems in 25 states to improve services for the mentally ill. A fiscal sponsorship from the Southern Documentary Fund allowed the newly reformed True Story Pictures to continue the Voices of Jericho project in 2010, and in 2011, Selvidge established to share new short films and interviews that highlight the voices of those who work and live at the intersection of criminal justice and mental health.

Her work as a documentary filmmaker only thinly veils her "secret" identity as a grant writer and nonprofit management consultant. While she does not pursue this activity full time, she can be persuaded on occasion to work for your nonprofit or public/private partnership to secure grant funding from foundations, corporations, and government agencies. Since 2001, she has helped her clients win $8.95 million for projects ranging from arts, education, and technology; to health and human services, including housing and homelessness, mental health, and substance abuse; to economic and community development; to transportation and infrastructure. For inquiries, please contact her at

Joann lives in midtown Memphis with her husband and two children.