The Watermelon Woman is a dramatic film directed by and starring Cheryl Dunye, a young black lesbian woman working in a video store. As she works with her friend Tamara (Valarie Walker), Cheryl notices that black actresses from the 1930s and 40s were not often credited for their performances. In particular, a film called "Plantation Memories" credits one actress as "The Watermelon Woman." Intrigued, Cheryl investigates the woman's identity. She finds that Fae Richards, the real name of The Watermelon Woman, was also a lesbian who had a romantic relationship with her white director. As Cheryl investigates cultural stereotypes of lesbians and black women, she grows close to a white woman, Diana (Guinevere Turner), and encounters conflict with Tamara. The Watermelon Woman is the first film directed by a lesbian woman of color, and is a serious and fascinating look at theories of culture and the American understanding of race and sexual orientation.