4-time Emmy nominated editor Malinda Zehner Guerra is celebrated for shaping a variety of visual stories across television and film. Most recently, Malinda received an Emmy-nomination for her work on HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show, working alongside an all female editing team. Nominated for Outstanding Picture Editing For Variety Programming on the episode, “My Love Language Is Words Of Defamation,” Malinda added to her previous three Emmy-nominations for her editing work on MTV’s RuPaul’s Drag Race, Hulu’s Born This Way, and Max’s Naked & Afraid XL.
Starting her career as an actor, Malinda discovered her calling as an editor and has continued to ascend in the competitive industry ranks. Drawing on her performance roots, she immerses herself in each character working to find the performance or cut that best brings the story to life on screen and fulfills the showrunner or director’s vision. Just as Michelangelo felt his job as a sculptor was to liberate the creation from the stone, Malinda sees her role as an editor in the same light. She works to find the nuances of a performance that can really add to the subtext and emotional life of the character. With a passion for socially aware projects, Malinda finds herself taking on timely issues and bringing new voices to the world with her work.
Other highlights of Malinda’s work include Third Wheel Material, which was an official selection at the American Black Film Festival, the Pan African Film Festival, and the Micheau Film Festival. Her previous credits also include E’s Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Discovery Channel’s Sharkweek, NBC’s Making It, and Disney’s Ghosthunters. Outside of the edit bay, she is an avid Crossfitter and coach. She is a graduate of The College of William & Mary and currently resides in Los Angeles.
Avid: What did you enjoy the most about working on A Black Lady Sketch Show?
Malinda Zehner Guerra: What I enjoyed most about editing A Black Lady Sketch Show was the opportunity to cut so many different genres in one season. One day I’m cutting a Bridgerton style sketch, the next a traditional sitcom and then a crazy podcast. It was so fun to figure out the style and the sound for each one. There was never a dull moment editing!
Avid: Why did you choose to submit this episode for a nomination?
Malinda Zehner Guerra: One really unique aspect of working on A Black Lady Sketch Show is that the editors really get to work as a team and each episode is a combination of all our work. Stephanie Filo, Taylor Mason and I decided to submit Episode 404 “My Love Language Is Words of Defamation” because it’s a great combination of all of our work and also features some of the show’s favorite recurring sketches. It opens with “Fresh To Def” our murder podcast sketch, which was one of my favorites to cut. It also features a return to the Black Lady Courtroom (clap, clap) with Guest Stars Issa Rae and Yvette Nicole Brown.
Avid: How did you find out about the nomination and what was your reaction?
Malinda Zehner Guerra: I hopped on the Emmy website bright and early to find out about all the nominations. It’s such a fun experience to go down the list and see friends’ names and the shows you voted for get nominated, but it’s really an overwhelming feeling to see your name on there. You want to jump around and cheer and then cry at the same time because your peers selected you for this honor. This is my 4th nomination and that feeling will never get old. Then you immediately start texting congratulations to the team and your friends. It was such a crazy morning.
Avid: What tools of Media Composer helped you craft this episode?
Malinda Zehner Guerra: The ease of collaboration within Media Composer is essential for a show like A Black Lady Sketch Show. With three editors all working on sketches and passing them back and forth between our amazing assistant editors, the VFX team, the music department and each other things could get really messy. Everyone being able to work together in the project keeps everything streamlined and lets us do things really fast which is crucial in post.
Avid: How has knowing Media Composer helped your career?
Malinda Zehner Guerra: I can’t imagine not using Media Composer on TV shows. It’s such a robust platform that allows so many people to work together at the same time with ease. It’s so important for everyone to seamlessly switch between projects and share bins and media and Media Composer makes it so effortless to do that.
Avid: Would you recommend editing to someone interested in a career in TV?
Malinda Zehner Guerra: I was drawn to the entertainment industry because I love storytelling and how film and TV can profoundly affect you emotionally. I started out as an actor, and when I discovered editing along the way I fell in love with it because it lets you be both creative and technical. Editing allows you to experience a character through an actor’s performance while watching all the dailies and getting to hone the character’s journey through your choices. Being able to help craft the final version of the story is a collaborative challenge that is so rewarding when you get to see it all come together. If you love puzzles and problem solving or taking something apart to see how it works editing may just be a great entertainment career for you!
Malinda Zehner Guerra’s Media Composer timeline for A Black Lady Sketch Show.