A graduate of the American Film Institute and the University of California at Los Angeles film programs, Dash is perhaps the best-known African American female filmmaker in America. Her critical acclaim is founded on the success of her 1982 short, Illusions, which won Best Film of the Decade from the Black Filmmaker Foundation, as well as several other national and international awards. The film's protagonist is an African American female executive in the film industry of the 1940s, Mignon Dupree, who is passing as white without making an effort to do so; her coworkers simply assume that she is white. She is also imitating a masculine identity to the degree that she dresses and acts to discourage being eroticized by the white men with whom she must work as an equal. During the course of the film, Mignon finds that passing for white is oppressive, and she begins to assert her identity as an African American. Dash has also made a feature-length film, Daughters of the Dust (1991), which has been widely exhibited and also broadcast on public television's American Playhouse series. Like Illusions, it is concerned with the articulation and affirmation of African American identity. It focuses on the turn-of-the-century Gullah culture of the Sea Islands off the South Carolina coast, which has retained many West African traditions, particularly religious and occult practices. Dash sees this film and Illusions as part of a series that she hopes to make on the experiences of African American women in the United States in the twentieth century.