UW21 Festival Jurors - urbanworld

JURORS

Festival

JURORS

2021

US Cinema Narrative Features

MICHELE ARTEAGA

Executive Director, Program Acquisitions, Starz

Michele Arteaga is currently Executive Director, Program Acquisitions at Starz. In this role, she meets with producers, distributors and major agencies to source premium content and negotiate acquisition deals on behalf of Starz. Her responsibilities include attending all major film festivals and TV markets, acquiring films and series for Starz and StarzPlay (International). Some of her more recent acquisition highlights include: City of Lies (starring Forest Whitaker and Johnny Depp) and the 2021 Emmy Nominated documentary, With Drawn Arms (from Executive Producer John Legend). Arteaga has been with Starz since 2016. Prior to joining Starz, she worked at Anchor Bay Films in acquisitions and New Line Cinema in finance and then later in acquisitions and production.

MERCEDES COOPER

Vice President, Public Programming, ARRAY

Mercedes Cooper is the Vice President of Public Programming at ARRAY, an LA-based narrative change collective founded by filmmaker Ava DuVernay dedicated to the amplification of artistic work by people of color and women of all kinds. Mercedes has worked with ARRAY for nearly 10 years and currently oversees the organization’s initiatives such as the 6-weekend film series ARRAY 360, community movie pop-ups ARRAY Drive-In, and ARRAY’s Filmmaker Tweet-A-Thon, as well as ARRAY’s newest initiative the Law Enforcement Accountability Project, LEAP. She previously managed ARRAY @ The Broad, a cinema and conversation series which featured classic and contemporary films curated with an eye toward the intersection of art, history, and cultural identity.

RYAN JONES

Senior Vice President, Production Development, Universal Pictures

Ryan Jones currently serves as SVP of Production Development at Universal Pictures. Prior to joining Universal Pictures, Jones was Vice President of Development and Production at Hasbro/eOne, where he oversaw such films as Snake Eyes: GI Joe Origins and the Transformers spinoff, Bumblebee. Before joining Hasbro/eOne, he was an executive at 20th Century Fox where he worked on such films as Logan, Deadpool, The Martian, and Maze Runner. Jones also worked at Morgan Creek Productions and State Street Pictures. Additionally, he is a co-producer of the documentary, Lunch Hour, which focuses on the National School Lunch Program, childhood obesity, and addiction to unhealthy foods. 

World Cinema Narrative Features

CARLOS AGUILAR

Film Critic

Originally from Mexico City, Carlos Aguilar was chosen as one of 6 young film critics to partake in the first Roger Ebert Fellowship organized by RogerEbert.com, the Sundance Institute and Indiewire in 2014. Aguilar’s work has appeared in prestigious publications such as Los Angeles Times, Variety, The New York Times, The Wrap, Indiewire, Vulture, RogerEbert.com, MovieMaker Magazine, Remezcla, Filmmaker Magazine, among others. He is a member of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA).

LESLIE COHEN

SVP, Content Acquisitions, WarnerMedia

Leslie Cohen is Senior Vice President of Content Acquisitions for WarnerMedia, HBO/HBOMAX, responsible for acquiring films from major studios, independent suppliers, international partners, and Latin content-including films, concerts, comedy specials, and series. In addition to the staple of film content for the platform, Leslie acquires artist-first films with social impact for WarnerMedia’s 150. Leslie is currently a Producer on HBO Latino’s Habla documentary series and Executive Producer/Producer on the live-action narrative 150 film project, Brownsville Bred.

STACY SPIKES

Founder, Urbanworld / Founder Pre-Show

Stacy Spikes is an American entrepreneur and the current founder of PreShow, the first ad-supported cinema network that makes moviegoing completely free. Spikes was the original founder of MoviePass the nation’s first theatrical subscription service that reached 3 million members and was voted Top 25 most disruptive technology companies by Business Insider. He is credited with the patent for MoviePass technology. Spikes is also the founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Urbanworld Film Festival which is the world’s largest competitive festival of its kind and the launching pad of such directors as Ava DuVernay, Lee Daniels and Malcolm Lee. 2019 the USA Today named Spikes one of the 21 most influential minorities in tech.

Documentary 

JACKIE GLOVER

Head of Documentary, ABC

Jacqueline Glover joined ABC as Head of Documentary in 2020, and recently joined Onyx Collective as Head of Documentary. She  is responsible for managing both entities’ burgeoning documentary business, cultivating the best filmmaking talent and documentary film projects for Disney General Entertainment. Formerly senior vice president, HBO Documentary Films, Glover was responsible for overseeing all aspects of the department’s programming, including development, acquisitions, and production. In her 27-year tenure at HBO, Glover’s projects received numerous awards, including Oscars, Peabodys, and Emmys.  

ALEXANDRA HANNIBAL

Director, Content Development, CNN Films

Alex Hannibal is Director of content development for CNN Films. Hannibal joined CNN in 2016 and is responsible for the development and acquisitions of CNN Films titles. Most recently, Hannibal was supervising producer for DREAMLAND: The Burning of Black Wallstreet, directed by Salima Karoma, and senior producer for JOHN LEWIS: Good Trouble, directed by Dawn Porter. Hannibal’s other recent credits include SCANDALOUS: The Untold Story of the National Enquirer, directed by Mark Landsman, LINDA RONSTADT: The Sound of My Voice, directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, APOLLO 11, directed by Todd Douglas Miller; HALSTON, directed by Frédéric Tcheng; the Oscar-nominated RBG, directed by Betsy West and Julie Cohen; and THREE IDENTICAL STRANGERS, directed by Tim Wardle.

DIONNE HARMON

Executive Vice President, Content & Strategy, Jesse Collins Entertainment

Dionne Harmon is Executive Vice President of Content & Strategy of the full service television and film production company Jesse Collins Entertainment (JCE). Harmon oversees the development and production of JCE’s slate of unscripted and scripted content, and plays a key role in the internal and external growth strategy of the company. The award-winning producer has also produced tentpoles and specials including CBS’s John Lewis: Celebrating a Hero, BET Awards, and the 2021 Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show starring the The Weeknd. Most recently, she was an executive producer of the Facebook Watch series Cardi Tries ______, and the celebrated Netflix children’s series Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices.

YVETTE MILEY

Senior Vice President, DEI, NBCU News Group

Award-winning journalist Yvette M. Miley serves as SVP of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the NBCU News Group. Her responsibilities include recruiting and retention, training and development, employee engagement, strategic partnerships, and editorial initiatives across all four networks. She reports to NBCUniversal News Group Chairman Cesar Conde. Since joining MSNBC in July 2009, Miley has held several leadership roles within the news group including SVP for MSNBC and NBC News overseeing weekend, overnight, breaking news and special events programming on MSNBC as well as NBC News’ “Early Today” broadcasts; Head of Diversity and Inclusion for NBC News and MSNBC; VP for MSNBC; Executive Editor of MSNBC Dayside and thrgrio.com; and Executive-in-Charge of the NBC News digital platform NBCOUT, the first LGBTQ news vertical created by a major broadcast media organization.

Young Creators

GRETA TALIA FUENTES

Vice President, Film Production and Development, MACRO

Greta Talia Fuentes is Vice President, Film Production and Development at MACRO, the multi-platform media company that represents the voice and perspectives of Black people, indigenous people and people of color. The first-generation Nicaraguan-American from LA, is co-producer of Justin Chon’s Blue Bayou, released theatrically by Focus Features; and an executive producer on Esteban Arango’s Blast Beat that was released via Sony and Vertical Entertainment after its 2020 premiere at Sundance. She was also an associate producer on Alan Yang’s feature debut, Netflix’s Tigertail. Fuentes is also set as executive producer of upcoming MACRO films—Netflix’s I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter directed by America Ferrera, the sci-fi thriller Void penned by Chris Borelli, Warner Bros.’ adaptation of Neil Paik’s Rainbowfish and the untitled Ryan Coogler, Shaka King, Charles D. King and Lil Rel Howery produced film about an American political insurrection. Additionally, she will oversee HBO’s hip hop vampire drama series Thirst and the action-adventure period epic Cordoba.

CIERRA GLAUDE

Director

 

Reigning from Mobile, Alabama, Cierra ‘SHOOTER’ Glaude is a southern belle whose heart & hustle has landed her on crews of features & TV shows including SELMA, Girls Trip, A Wrinkle in Time, Queen Sugar, and Twenties. Cierra made her directorial-debut at Urbanworld in 2017 with her short ‘Last Looks’ starring Rutina Wesley (Queen Sugar, True Blood) which is featured on Issa Rae’s Youtube Channel as apart of the #ShortFilmSunday lineup. In 2019, she directed Grammy nominated artist Chika’s High Rises music video. Later that same year she followed up with ‘Spilt Milk’ starring Dascha Polanco (Orange is the New Black) and Zuri Adele (Good Trouble) which earned her the opportunity to direct three episodes of Queen Sugar Season 5—the same show she served as a PA on for multiple seasons.

ERICA HUGHES

Director, Multicultural Marketing, Ally

Erica Hughes is an award-winning marketing and advertising executive with a breadth of experience working for Fortune 500 companies. Currently, Hughes serves as the Director of Multicultural Marketing at Ally, where she is responsible for creating and leading the vision and strategy for multicultural marketing. In addition, Hughes leads the organization’s efforts to increase awareness and consideration amongst diverse consumer segments. Before joining Ally, Hughes led digital & social media strategy at Chick-fil-A. While there, she was a key member in the marketing organization, creating a vision for the internal marketing tech-stack. Prior to joining Chick-fil-A, Erica worked at Conagra Brands from 2012-2018.

Narrative Shorts

AXEL CABALLERO

Head of WarnerMedia’s OneFifty & VP, WarnerMedia Artistic & Cultural Innovation

Former Director of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at HBO & previous Executive Director of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP). Founder and Executive Producer of Cuentame, Latino Lens and Goodness Films, as well as Founder of the Spanish-language opinion site Metafora Politica.

BRENDA GILBERT

President, BRON Media Corp

 

Brenda Gilbert is the President of BRON Media Corp, a company she co-founded and leads with her husband, Aaron L. Gilbert. BRON Media Corp. is the parent company to operating units BRON Studios, BRON Animation BRON Releasing, BRON Digital, and BRON Ventures (holds an interest in a portfolio of 10 content companies). Brenda has a special focus on BRON’s non-scripted arm BRON Life, and is currently an Executive Producer on several projects, including the Untitled Nicki Minaj series with HBO Max. Over her 20+ years in the media space, Brenda has produced, or executive produced more than two-dozen projects, including the animated film The Willoughbys, which premiered on Netflix in 2020.

MARIA WEAVER

President, WEA, Warner Music Group

Maria Weaver serves as President of WEA, Warner Recorded Music’s global artist and label services network. Weaver oversees the array of expertise and resources under the WEA umbrella, including streaming account management & playlisting, direct-to-fan and merchandising operations, consumer acquisition, content creation, legal & business affairs, and finance. In addition, she leads the growth of Warner’s network of owned-and-operated consumer brands, which encompasses EMP, the merchandising e-tailer; HipHopDX, the music news site; Songkick, the live music app; and UPROXX, the youth culture website, among other digital destinations. Prior to WEA, Weaver was SVP & CMO at Comcast Advertising, was one of the founders of Interactive One, the digital division of Urban One (formerly Radio One), and held senior marketing and creative services posts at HBO and Showtime.

Animation Shorts

STEPHANIE BANG

VP, Feature Film Development, Dreamworks Animation

Stephanie Bang is Vice President of Feature Development for DreamWorks Animation. In this role, Bang sources new projects to contribute to the studio’s growing film slate and works closely with creative talent throughout the collaborative development process. DreamWorks Animation’s upcoming 2022 feature slate includes The Bad Guys, an original film based on the best-selling books, and Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, the sequel to the 2011 Oscar®-nominated blockbuster. Bang previously spent more than 11 years at Nickelodeon, working in various development and production roles for television, movies and live events including Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie, Legends of the Hidden Temple and Kids’ Choice Awards.

HELENA HILARIO

Writer / Producer

Helena Hilario is an award-winning Brazilian storyteller, writer, and producer who believes that art can change people’s lives. She is passionate about animation, and her main professional goal is to continue creating moving stories in which people feel connected. With over 16 years of experience in the entertainment industry, Helena made her directorial debut with UMBRELLA’s animated short. The film has moved audiences around the world and earned accolades on the festival circuit. She is also the co-founder and executive producer of the creative studio Stratostorm. As Urbanworld alumni, she is very excited to be part of the festival!

CARL REED

President, Lion Forge Animation

 

Carl Reed is an Academy Award-winning producer, who serves as Polarity’s Chief Creative Officer and President of Lion Forge Animation. As President of Lion Forge Animation (LFA), Carl jointly oversees the studio’s film, television, and digital units. He directs LFA’s robust production and distribution practices as well as establishes and cultivates relationships with key creators and industry partners. The company is credited for producing the Hair Love short film, distributed by Sony Pictures Animation, and winner for “Best Animated Short” in the 2020 Academy Awards. Carl’s career includes 20 years in media creation. Over the course of his career, Carl has worked with high-profile clients to produce a variety of different types of content, from comic books to broadcast animated series, toys and videogames. He has worked with clients such as Disney, MTV, Spin Master Toys, Warner Media, Global TV (Canada), Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, and more.

Experimental

AMY ANDRIEUX

Executive Director + Chief Curator, MoCADA

 

With over 20 years of experience as a curator, writer, educator, and executive, Amy “Aimstar” Andrieux is a veteran of global programming grounded in culture and social justice. An award-winning creative leader and producer across print, digital, video, mobile, and live events, Amy has retained top posts at TRACE, TMM, The True Agency, MTV.com, MTV World (where she became the first Black Editorial Director at Viacom), The Source, Ketchum, Red Bull Media House / Red Bull TV, and TranslationLLC / UnitedMasters. Amy takes pride in her day-to-day work at The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art (MoCADA) in Brooklyn, New York, where her focus is rooted in connecting and celebrating the diverse cultures of the African diaspora while expanding its historical narrative through film, art, music, and other artistic disciplines.

TAMARA MCCAW

Chief Civic Programs Officer, The Shed

The Shed’s Chief Civic Programs Officer Tamara McCaw leads The Shed’s efforts to produce and present significant, ambitious, socially engaged work in collaboration with New York City artists and communities, including Open Call. Tamara came to The Shed after a 17-year tenure at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where she directed community public programming, audience development, community relations, and government affairs, and launched ticket assistance initiatives that increased cultural participation and access to the arts. As Board Chair of the business improvement district FAB Alliance (2009-16), she developed neighborhood development initiatives, including free Wi-Fi for the Brooklyn Cultural District and adjacent commercial corridor, and spearheaded the development of public open spaces.

KYOKO MINEGISHI

Founder, Maze Bright

 

Kyoko Minegishi’s love for storytelling was born out of travel. Having traveled from the age of 5, she was exposed to multiple countries, diverse cultures and languages that introduced her to over 40+ countries and even more cultures. Professionally, this has fostered a strength in creating global marketing and communication strategies that resonate with local audiences in numerous countries around the world. She crafts culturally relevant, compelling stories that connect, engage and inspire people with brands from music, dance, art, media, beverage, tech and hardware. Previously, Kyoko has led cross-functional media teams, built new demand generation funnels and transformed a Series B start-up innovator – Ori, Inc. – into a B2B2C engine, growing revenue 4-fold. She spent 6 years with Red Bull in Salzburg, Austria as Global Head of Culture Communications – where she advocated and established storytelling as a core pillar in the company’s marketing strategy.

Environment + Social Impact

CARLTON ELEY

Environmental Expert

Carlton Eley is a national expert on equitable development. Recently, Carlton completed his tenure as Regional Equity Initiative Manager for the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission (MVRPC) in Dayton, OH. He was responsible for leading the development and implementation of equity initiatives throughout the region, including co-sponsorship of an Environmental Justice Academy with U.S. EPA Region 5 in Chicago. Prior to joining MVRPC, Carlton led multiple projects that re-energized the American Planning Association’s focus on social equity. Also, he was the first urban planner hired by the Office of Environmental Justice at U.S. EPA, and he managed a portfolio on equitable development.

DILSHANIE PERERA

Fellow, Climate Museum

Dilshanie Perera (she/they) is the Mellon Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in Climate and Inequality at the Climate Museum, the first museum in the U.S. dedicated to inspiring action on the climate crisis. Dilshanie’s work at the Climate Museum spans curatorial, educational, and research programming, which includes the Talking Climate series and the Beyond Lies public art campaign. Their doctoral work in anthropology at Stanford University focused on climate, risk, and disastrous weather in Bangladesh.

KATHERINE WEINSTEIN

Acquisitions + Content Strategy, Discovery

 

Katherine Weinstein is a film and television industry veteran with over eight years of experience in content acquisitions and programming strategy. Currently, at Discovery Channel, Katherine works on programming strategy for the network, as well as the content acquisitions for Discovery+. Throughout her work, Katherine has shepherded the acquisition and exhibition of documentaries that demonstrate the urgency of the conservation of wildlife and the environment. She is passionate about spreading the message about our unstable climate and what that means for the world’s most vulnerable communities through films that are entertaining but informative and can plant the necessary seeds of action in our collective consciousness.

Web Originals

SAM LINSKY

Co-Head, Scripted Original Programming, Warner Media

 

Sam Linsky is Associate General Manager and Co-Head of Scripted Original programming, TNT, TBS and truTV, alongside Adrienne O’Riain. Based in Los Angeles, he reports to Brett Weitz, General Manager for TBS, TNT and truTV. He expands his previous role as SVP, Original Programming for the networks, and is responsible for overseeing development and production on the networks’ scripted original programs. In this expansion of his duties, Linsky will work closely with Weitz on the strategy and execution of long-term plans centered around the networks’ evolution, as well as with internal teams to define project scope, goals, and deliverables, including finance and strategic planning.

MYLES O’CONNELL

Director of TV/Film/SVOD Entertainment Partnerships in North America for Facebook

Myles O’Connell is currently the Director of TV/Film/SVOD Entertainment Partnerships in North America for Facebook. In this role he manages partnerships on platform with large media companies, such as Netflix, Disney, and WarnerMedia. Prior to joining Facebook, Myles ran business development for Complex Media, one of the largest digital media companies in youth culture. Myles also held positions in distribution at ViacomCBS, as well as in business development at NBCUniversal. Myles is a graduate of Vanderbilt University, and holds an MBA from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business.

AISHA CORPAS WYNN

SVP, Alternative Television Programming, MACRO Television Studios

 

Aisha Corpas Wynn is Senior Vice President, Alternative Television Programming at MACRO Television Studios, a division of MACRO, the multi-platform media company representing the voice and perspectives of Black people and people of color. Wynn most recently executive produced Barbershop Medicine for YouTube Studios. Prior to joining MACRO TV, she was Head of Development for Anthony Anderson and Bunim/Murray Productions’ partnership, where she oversaw unscripted and animation programming. Her production company, A Wynn Wynn Production, produced HBO’s After the Thrones where she was showrunner/co-executive producer. She created/executive produced VH1ʼs Iʼm Married To A…, A&Eʼs Flipping Miami and Snapchat’s Road Trippin’ with Rickey Thompson and Denzel Dion.

Music Videos

JEFF BURROUGHS

SVP, Brand Partnerships, Def Jam

Def Jam Recordings SVP of Brand Partnerships Jeff Burroughs not only integrates multi-platinum award-winning superstars into the cultural conversation, but he also champions social justice and equity at every turn. Upon graduating from Howard University, he went from a gig at Columbia Records to serving as General Manager at Puffy Daddy’s Bad Boy Entertainment in 1996 where he accelerated the brand’s growth into a household name. He upholds a staunch commitment to social justice cultivated by work with the likes of Harry Belafonte’s Sankofa Organization. 2020 saw him join the Task Force for Meaningful Change as one of its founders. He facilitated alliances with organizations such as WWAV, Color of Change, Voto Latino, and more in addition to organizing town halls with Senator Cory Booker, former Attorney General Eric Holder, and author and activist Shaka Senghor, to name a few.

COLIN GAYLE

Founder, Africa Creative Agency (ACA)

 

Colin Gayle conceptualizes, creates, and leverages intersections between African culture and global markets. As founder of Africa Creative Agency (ACA), his beliefs are rooted in visionary branding that breaks down borders and elevates the continent’s cultural profile through strategy and global best practices, utilizing everything from content and content platforms to live events and social engineering. In 2004, Mr. Gayle set his sights on Africa. Drawing on decades of experience across music, media, and television and film, he introduced a myriad of entertainers and brands to the continent for the very first time.

CAMILLE HACKNEY

Chief Partnerships Officer, Atlantic Records / Head , Global Brand Partnerships Council, Warner Music Group

Camille Hackney currently holds the dual title of Chief Partnerships Officer, Brand Partnerships & Commercial Licensing at Atlantic Records and Head of the Global Brand Partnerships Council for Warner Music Group headquartered in New York City. She is responsible for cultivating strategic partnerships for Atlantic and its diverse roster of top-notch artists with the goal of marrying musical talent with prominent brands to create impactful campaigns and promotions. She has worked with companies including Google, Pepsi, Samsung, Moet Hennessy, Facebook, Nike, Unilever, Cartier, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Diageo, Heineken, Apple, NBA, NFL, Fiat Chrysler, P&G, and many others. In her position at Warner Music Group, she leads a global team of brand partnership and commercial licensing executives to source global deals for the hundreds of artists signed to the various Warner Music Group labels and licensees around the globe.

Screenplay

TAYO AMOS

Writer + Director

 

A first-generation Nigerian-American, Tayo Amos received her B.A. from Stanford and her M.F.A from USC, where she also received the James Bridges Directing Scholarship. She was selected as a 2019 Blackhouse Sundance Fellow, a 2014 Team Oscar member, and guest speaker at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2015. Her thesis film ON THE CLOCK completed its festival run and is now available on Amazon Prime. Tayo’s next short, A BLOSSOM IN THE NIGHT (starring Junior Nyong’o in his screen debut), had its world premiere at Urbanworld 2020 and is part of the SHOOT Online New Directors Showcase. She also directed the short film MAGNOLIA BLOOM starring Lex Scott Davis, which had its world premiere at Tribeca Film Festival in June 2021. She is currently represented at CAA.

PATRICK COKER

Writer/Director/Producer

 

Patrick Coker has been involved in the Theater, Film and TV industry since the mid-90’s, first as an actor and then stepping behind the camera as a director and content provider. A graduate of the LIU Media Arts Program with an M.F.A. in Directing, he has been the creative mind behind many indie music videos, award-winning short films and the feature film Shankman’s Deli. He has been part of the writing team for BET’s TV series TALES, executive produced by Irv Gotti, since its inception and for the upcoming season 3 is serving as Co-Showrunner and Co-Head Writer.

MELODY COOPER

Writer

Melody is a 2021 Sundance Episodic Lab Fellow and was the 2018 Urbanworld Grand Jury Prize Winner for her screenplay NORTHERN CROSS. She was selected for the 2019 HBO Access Writing Program, during which she was staffed on Stage 13’s TWO SENTENCE HORROR STORIES, now on Netflix. She was most recently story editor on the 22nd season of NBCUniversal’s LAW & ORDER: SVU and has been named one of the Top 25 Screenwriters to Watch in 2021 by ISA. Originally a playwright from NY, Melody also writes the comic book OMNI (Vol. 2: Issues #5 – 10). She is Co-Founder of Nyx Horror Collective, a group of women horror filmmakers whose micro shorts were recently featured on SHUDDER. Her next projects are a soon to be announced feature for Netflix and she’s developing an original TV series with a major producer.

RASHIDI HENDRIX

Founder, Metallic Entertainment

 

Metallic Entertainment is a New York and Los Angeles based talent management and television/film production company founded by Rashidi Hendrix in 2013. As a management company, Metallic represents a roster of actors, comedians, TV & Film writers and directors that work on shows like The Ranch (Netflix), Chicago Fire (NBC), Criminal Minds (CBS), Bates Motel (A&E), NCIS (CBS), Shameless (Showtime), Late Night with Seth Meyers (NBC), Luke Cage (Netflix), Insecure (HBO), Chopped (Food Network), and hit features like Takers & The Equalizer. As a producer, Hendrix has worked on shows like Orange is the New Black (Netflix), The Apprentice (NBC), Jimmy Kimmel Live (ABC), and Shark Tank (NBC). Hendrix started his career as a series development executive at MTV in 2007. Prior to MTV, he was an award-winning music publishing A&R executive with multiple Grammys and BMI, ASCAP and SESAC awards from his signings. Currently, Hendrix serves as a Co-Chair for the Black Writers Salon at the WGA-East.

ZORA HOWARD

Writer + Performer

 

Zora Howard is a Harlem-bred writer and performer. Plays include STEW (2021 Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama, 2020 Drama League nominee for Outstanding Play; Page 73 Productions), THE MASTER’S TOOLS (Williamstown Theatre Festival), AtGN, BUST, and HANG TIME. Her work has been developed with SPACE at Ryder Farm, Tofte Lake Center, Ojai Playwrights Conference, Seattle Repertory Theater, and Cape Cod Theatre Project, among others. In 2020, her feature film Premature (2020 Film Independent John Cassavetes Award nominee), which she co-wrote with director Rashaad Ernesto Green, opened in theaters following its world premiere at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. She is the 2020-2021 Van Lier New Voices Fellow at the Lark.

New York Women in Film & Television Award for Best Female Director, US Narrative Features

KATIE CHAMBERS

NYWIFT Community Engagement Director

Katie Chambers is a communications executive and event producer with a lifelong commitment to supporting artists and advocating for inclusion. She is currently the Director of Community Engagement for New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT), where she manages both Communications and Membership and co-produces Special Events including the Muse Awards. Prior to joining the NYWIFT team, Katie was a talent agent in the Youth & Young Adult Theatrical division at A3 Artists Agency in New York City, representing young actors in theatre, film, and television. She was previously a junior agent and assistant to the head of the Youth & Talent Development division at Buchwald, where she also ran the company’s internship program.

CYNTHIA LOPEZ

NYWIFT Executive Director

Cynthia López is an award-winning media strategist, and former Commissioner of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, where she implemented strategies to support film and TV production throughout the five boroughs. Prior to working as Commissioner, López was Executive Vice President and co-Executive Producer of the award winning PBS documentary series American Documentary | POV, and was involved in the organization’s strategic growth and creative development for 14 years. Her ability to forge strategic partnerships among corporate and public interest media has been a signature of her work. Notable partnerships include: New York Times, Reuters, Al-Jazeera Network, Discovery Communications, The Moth, Story Corps, Harpo Studios and ABC News, NIGHTLINE with Ted Koppel. López is a founding member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP).

ZENAIDA MENDEZ

NYWIFT Board Member

Zenaida Mendez is Director of Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN) El Barrio Firehouse Community Media. Zenaida has an intensive career in public service, community activism, television production, and filmmaking. As a social justice activist she is an avid voice for tolerance, has many years of experience working as an advocate for women’s, & LGBTQI+ rights, as well as economic, racial and environmental justice. She first became involved in public access television as a member of Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN) board of directors and as an independent television program producer. In 2015, Mendez became Director of MNN’s newest television studio in East Harlem/El Barrio, in New York City and is responsible for strategic and operational management of the Media Center.

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