Ascender Films, Inc. Mourns the Loss of Legendary NOLA Chef Leah Chase (1923-2020)

This weekend we loss a giant of the American culinary world: Chef Leah Chase, Queen of Creole Cuisine.  Ms Chase, 96, was also the Executive Chef/ Owner of famed Dooky Chase Restaurant in New Orleans. The legendary restaurant is noted for being one of the oldest upscale, black-owned southern/soul/creole restaurants in the United States.  It has hosted civil rights leaders during the 1950s and 60s, when no other establishment allowed African Americans, and survived to host U.S. Presidents and world leaders.  Ms. Chase remained at the forefront of opening doors for people of color in the restaurant industry and continued leading her kitchen staff for around 70 years.

We were blessed to have been invited to film her as she advised room or black chefs, food writers and culinary historians during a private luncheon at Dooky Chase. Ms. Chase incredibly overwhelmed by the sight of three generation of African American chefs who stood before her–eager to take in every bite of advice, encouragement and instruction that fell from her lips.  That love was reciprocated many times over by those in the room who represented the next generation of black culinary leaders.  We edited this short piece in honor of her and that special exchange.

Our team wishes our condolences to the Chase family, their friends and her community in NOLA.

Ascender Earns two TELLY AWARDS for "Making Gumbo Jubilee" and "Shaka's Story"

MAY 21, 2019

Ascender picked up two bronze TELLY AWARDS this year.  Our short-film "Making Gumbo Jubilee: Triumph of Howard Conyers" brought home the first bronze award in the "Social Media, Food & Beverage category." The second bronze statute was earned in the "Social Media-Public Health & Wellness" categories was earned for 'Shaka's Story", a 3-min segment from an ongoing digital series of testimonials from TB survivors.  The series was produced in 2018 for the US Department of Health & Human Services/ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"We are thrilled for both projects!", says Senior Producer, Paul Grant,"Making Gumbo Jubilee as our first film highlighting black foodways.  We believe this is true testament that more of great stories exploring African/African American diaspora cooking can be told with premium production value and will be well received.  While our win for "Shaka's Story" again proves that we are truly mastering how we tell public health stories that resonate and make a difference."

Take a look at both projects here.





CDC World TB Day Messages (2019)

This week the CDC released a series of World TB Day (2019) video PSAs produced earlier this year by Ascender Communications, Inc.

We are proud to assist the efforts for the wonderful team at the CDC Division of Tuberculosis Elimination (DTBE). According to the CDC web site,“This annual event commemorates the date in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced his discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacillus that causes tuberculosis (TB). World TB Day is a day to educate the public about the impact of TB around the world.  CDC, along with our partners and colleagues around the world share successes in TB prevention and control, and raise awareness of the challenges that hinder our progress toward the elimination of this devastating disease.”

We are proud to be a trusted member of their team. For more information about TB or World TB Day. Please visit:

Ascender Launches its' First Factual Series: 'Adrian Miller's Soulful Bites'

Ascender Communications, Inc. proudly presents our first factual series featuring James Beard Award-winning author and lecturer, Adrian Miller, ‘The Soul Food Scholar’ as he shares tasty morsels of stories from the history and evolution of Soul Food–America’s first fusion cuisine.

‘Adrian Miller’s Soulful Bites’ series takes fun, colorful approach to some seriously tasty—and controversial—facts about African American contributions to American cuisine.  features James Beard Award-winning writer, lecturer Adrian Miller, ‘The Soul Food Scholar’ sharing tasty morsels of stories—three minutes of less—that you’ve never heard about food you have probably always loved.

“Black culinary history and stories about the damaging effects of cultural appropriation of black cooking traditions are still not fully in the plain view of most African Americans,” says Senior Producer, Paul Grant.  “More and more has is being written almost daily on the subject. Yet, mainstream broadcasters are still resistant to invest in any series that explores the subject–even with the extensive amount of research and perspective that is being offered by black culinary historians. This project to fill that void by introducing short, entertaining factual stories into people’s social media timelines that might inspire them to take a deeper look.”

Adrian Miller’s first book, Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time was published by the University of North Carolina Press in August 2013. Soul Food won the 2014 James Beard Foundation Book Award for Reference and Scholarship. His second book, The President’s Kitchen Cabinet: The Story of the African Americans Who Have Fed Our First Families, from the Washington’s to the Obama’s was published on President’s Day, February 20, 2017. The President’s Kitchen Cabinet has been nominated for a 2018 NAACP Image Award for “Outstanding Literary Work–Non-Fiction.”

Adrian recently received the “2018 Ruth Fertel Keeper of the Flame” Award from the Southern Foodways Alliance (SFA) for his work on African American foodways and he is currently working on Black Smoke, a history of African American barbecue culture.

To follow ‘Adrian Miller’s Soulful Bites’, visit:

Visit his website:


UDC-TV Station Brand Identity

We loved design projects. Last fall, the Ascender team was thrilled to partner with Silhouette Media to design the new station ID/logo package for the University of District of Columbia Television Station.

It was a busiest time of the year for us–so that meant a lot of late nights, discarded sketches and concept work. But persistence and good design work, won in the end. Our client and partners were thrilled with results and that means everything to us!


What is the AHS? ( Animation|2017)

Animation for US Census Bureau / American Housing Survey

This summer the Ascender team proudly produced an short motion graphic / animated video for the US Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the US Census Bureau’s ‘American Housing Survey.”

The Survey is conducted in residences across the United States to collect data on how we live, average size and characteristics of our nation’s housing supply.

The project had a immensely short turn-around but we were up to the challenge!

Our New Home

Our New Home

Ascender Communications Expands To New Office in Capitol Hill, Washington, DC

We are thrilled to announce that earlier this month, Ascender relocated to historic Barrack’s Row. Yep, we are back in Capitol Hill.

That’s where our journey began in the bedroom of a 2nd floor condo on Pennsylvania Avenue SE,  just 13 years ago.  It’s been a long time coming thus far. We survived The Great Recession. The 2011 DC Earthquake. Even the rise and fall of Walter White and we are poised for even greater things to come.

Our business is a start-up again. At this pivotal juncture, our projects and core team have expanded too. While we remain excited for what the future holds, we can’t help but acknowledge the enormous amount of work it took to get here. Being is business is like walking a tight-rope over a fiery mountain range, with one side tied to heaven, and the other to the gates of hell!

Okay—it’s not THAT bad. But there have been some really scary moments. But what makes it all so worth it—and so addictive—is that there have been so many more wonderful, life-changing moments along the way. And, we have met some really great people too.

Our new facility will allows us  increased client meeting space and post-production and animation and motion-graphics capacity, with separate Avid Media Composer® and Adobe Premiere ® editing Suites.

We are humbled to remain a thriving black-owned, boutique creative agency in Washington, DC. However, with greater capacity comes an greater responsibility to our clients and ourselves. This turn is all about improving our output and producing a solid body of high-quality work, bit-by-bit, day-by-day.

That remains the key to our longevity and financial success.  You gotta LOVE and MASTER your craft. Passion alone won’t do it. Nor will fancy digs.

May we forever rise to meet every challenge, forever learning and reaching for new creative heights.

ACRIA PSA series feat. Legendary Dionne Warwick

ACRIA PSA Series featuring the legendary activist, singer-Songwriter, and Dionne Warwick

Executive Producer: Deborah Levine (ACRIA)
Senior Producer / Director: Paul Grant
Producer : Tracey A. Grant
Director of Photography: Yul Sean Simmons
Post-Production & Motion Graphics: Ascender Communications, Inc.
Client: ACRIA / Black Women’s Health Imperative

The Family Block Party | Animated TV Spot (2016)

Animated 30-second TV Spot for an annual community health fair in Denver, Colorado.