GHETTO FILM SCHOOL ROSTER PARTICIPANTS
A Native New Yorker from Queens with Colombian roots, Alejandra Araujo is a filmmaker, artist and all-around creative. She
graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and loves directing, writing and shooting. She has previously
partnered with Google, Tribeca Film Institute, MTV, Funny or Die, Mom+Pop Music, the Ghetto Film School and various other
companies on exciting projects. She has won numerous awards and grants such as the Scholastic Art & Writing National Gold Key
and Tribeca Youth Achievement Award. Coming from a visual and fine art background, Alejandra has a great eye for design, detail
and aesthetic. Most recently, she was one of the nine out of 350 applicants to be a part of 72andSunny’s creative residency, 72U, in
Los Angeles. The team created an initiative called PROJECT RESTART, a platform to change the stigma around formerly incarcerated
people aka returning citizens, connecting them with artists all over the world to collaborate and tell their stories in a new light.
Alicia Carroll is a writer, producer, and TEDx speaker, from Philadelphia, P.A.. She holds a BA in Visual & Media Arts Production from
Emerson College, with a focus in creative producing for television and film. She is an advocate for inclusion and representation in
media and entertainment and has varied experience in the entertainment field in theater, television, and film. Alicia is a fierce
advocate for content-aware entertainment media practices and an advocate for the empowered prevention of power-based
interpersonal violence, which she recently discussed in her talk at TEDxBeaconstreet in Boston in 2016. In 2017 she was chosen to be
an ABC Studios Writer’s Room Apprentice through Ghetto Film School, where she shadowed and supported the Writer’s department
on QUANTICO in Season Two. Due to the incredible support and advice of the writer’s room, she was embedded with, she moved to
Los Angeles following season wrap. After a year of working in literary management and television, film, and documentary
production, Alicia became a Showrunner’s assistant to Erica Shelton Kodish at CBS. In addition to producing her web series, FISHING,
Alicia has a body of original material under her belt and is working to improve her writing every day.
BRITTANY “B.MONET” FENNELL
Brittany “B.Monét” Fennell is a writer/director who graduated from Spelman College with a B.A. in English. She hails from Silver
Spring, Maryland and holds an MFA from New York University in Film and Television with a concentration in writing and directing.
Her award-winning short film Q.U.E.E.N. has screened at over a dozen festivals including Cannes Short Film Corner and was a runner-
up in the First Time Female Filmmakers Contest with Women and Hollywood. She was also named the 2017 Horizon Award Winner
through Cassian Elwes, Christine Vachon and Lynette Howell – Taylor at the Sundance Film Festival, recipient of the Adrienne Shelly
Foundation grant and a directing fellow for Film Independent’s residency program Project Involve. Additionally, she is one of the
winners for the #NewView Film Competition with Glamour and Girlgaze which champions the voices of female filmmakers. Recently,
she directed a branded short film on the #MeToo founder Tarana Burke for Levi’s and Girlgaze. B.Monét won the 2018 Best
Graduate Feature Screenplay for her feature film Q.U.E.E.N. She is a recipient of the Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation grant at
Fusion Film Festival as well as a finalist in the Women in Film Mini Upfronts Program and a Sundance Women’s Financing Intensive
Project Fellow for her first feature film Q.U.E.E.N.
Asha Flowers was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA, and is an aspiring writer and director of film and television. After a short stint
with the film school, she graduated from Loyola Marymount University with her Bachelor’s degree in Women’s Studies. While
studying the history and politics of the oppression of both women and people of color, as well as production, development, and
critical analysis’ of filmmaking, Asha decided to dedicate her own work to shedding light on the often-neglected stories of those
marginalized both on and off-screen. In this way, she hopes to aid in their continued struggle for authentic and diverse portrayal.
Asha has always voiced a great desire to create her own vision by writing, directing, and producing her own material. Her goal for
her own work is to help to drastically diversify and improve the authenticity of the representation of all people in mainstream
entertainment. Asha has a fervor for drama, and a strong interest in sci-fi, thriller, and, particularly, crime drama. Her body of work
includes shorts, features, specs, and pilot scripts. In the future, she would like to continue to write and direct, and aims to one day
showrun game-changing network television.
Alexi Gonzalez is a Writer/Director who is currently an Associate Producer back in the Writer’s Room of “On My Block” working
creatively on Season 2. Alexi first started her filmmaking journey in New York City where she had one of her earliest short films
premiere at Lincoln Center at the young age of 15. After graduating high school, Alexi moved to Los Angeles to take part of the
Ghetto Film School Expansion to Los Angeles where her next short film “Abby Normal” premiered at The Bing Theatre at LACMA. A
year later her thesis film “Demon’s Gate” premiered at the Hammer Museum hosted by writer-director David O. Russell and 21st
Century Fox Chairman Jim Gianopulos. “Demon’s Gate” was shot in Tokyo, Japan entirely in Japanese with a predominately female
cast and crew. Alexi went on to take part of the Warner Brother’s Directing in Television Workshop. Alexi’s artistic pieces engage
audiences with emotionally gripping stories that invite people to enter a world unknown to them or challenge them to see our real
world through a new lens. It is a growing theme in her work to pose questions to the audience that urges them to explore and
discuss the grey areas of life.
A Harlem native, Melissa V. Murray, seemed destined for a career in filmmaking. Her mom, a cinematographer, introduced Murray
to Hollywood classics at a young age; in junior high Melissa enrolled at Ghetto Film School where she created several original short
films, screened her first narrative work at Lincoln Center and wrote the 2007 Thesis Project script, which was produced on-location
in Paris, France. Melissa started her career at Lee Daniels Entertainment where she worked on PRECIOUS and THE PAPERBOY. Under
her own production company, The Cynical Owl LLC, she has written and directed several original short films that have gone on to
play at film festivals and received distribution from companies such as Amazon and Gravitas Ventures. She uses her art as a vehicle
to understand the other, to critique larger systems that she finds to be toxic and to explore the true meaning of freedom and the
mental and physical forces that threaten it. Her preferred genres are action, thriller, sci-fi, fantasy and horror. Melissa is currently in
development on her original action/thriller feature script titled, “WE REAL COOL,” of which she will also direct. The project is being
produced by Effie T. Brown and Leah Natasha Thomas.
CHICANA DIRECTORS INITITATIVE PARTICIPANTS
Stephanie Hernandez is currently a freelance director/producer for multiple digital platforms. She is a first generation Mexican-
American who primarily tells stories of Latinos in the US and their experiences. She usually creates mini docs and profile pieces on
marginalized communities within Latinos but especially likes to focus on empowering Latinas. Her ultimate goal is to start
transitioning over from digital to traditional so that she can be a film director. She wants to start by creating her first short film
within a year. But one day, she would love to have her untold stories of the Latino-American experience on the big screen.
Growing up in both Mexico and the U.S. has led Alycya Magaña to write stories influenced on her Mexican-American upbringing. She
created her first short film, ALMA, in 2016, which screened and won awards in various film festivals in the U.S. and internationally as
well. Since then, she has worked on improving her craft by studying and continuing to create films. She recently completed a short
film, UN RATITO MAS, which is a concept for a feature film that will soon begin pre-production. Alycya is currently in pre-production
of another short film as well as a web series, which are scheduled for production this fall and beginning early 2019.
Kayden Phoenix is a Chicana Writer and Director from Boyle Heights, California. She received a full ride academic scholarship to
Loyola Marymount University where she acquired a BA in Business Administration, with an Emphasis in Marketing. Upon entering
the industry, the first thing she noticed was the industry dominated standard- complete with character generalizations. In response,
she became a huge advocate for diversity both in front and behind the camera, giving a voice to stories untold. Kayden plans on
evening the playing field for the underrepresented through her unique and diverse filmmaking. “A big part of my life’s purpose is to
give voice to stories as multifaceted, atypical, and diverse as the people we find in the real world.” Kayden is the founder of Chicana
Director’s Initiative, which places Latina directors with supportive allies such as Women in Film, Alliance of Women Director’s, etc.
Sylvia Ray is a writer, director, and co-founder of VKTRY Creative Studios. As a storyteller, she is passionate about projects that are
inclusive, fearless, and truthful. Having grown up in a small desert town — where nearly half the population lives beneath the
poverty line — and moving to Los Angeles as a young adult, she draws inspiration from her own self discipline and determination.
She provides a unique perspective as a Korean/Mexican-American woman. In the last 18 months, Sylvia has directed five shorts and
written a feature length screenplays. She has also worked creatively with clients such as Magnopus, Disney, and Disney-Pixar. She is
an active member of Women in Film and the Los Angeles Women’s Film Coalition. Sylvia is a California native, was born and raised in
the high desert, and earned a degree in Communications while minoring in Asian Studies at Cal State Fullerton. She currently lives in
Los Angeles with her husband and two sons.
Jessica Siqueiros is a Mexican-American Actor & Writer//Director on a mission to normalize complex & authentic narratives about
the Southwest Mexican-American community through film. Her upcoming short film Pozole was awarded a $25K grant, along with a
$250K marketing deal, and is set to be the first narrative short film executive produced by the artful data-transfer
company WeTransfer. Her style is both comedic and heart-wrenching, pulling from political and societal structures to create
commentaries around the need for social change. Her first feature film Lowrider delves into the colorful, complicated world of Latina
women living in La Reforma (the Mexican projects of Tuscon, AZ) in the 1960-80’s, and is currently in development. Her acting work
has been featured/shown in some of the top publications and film festivals in the country, including to sold out houses as part of the
Girl’s Shorts block at Outfest 2018.
WIF SCHOLARSHIP PARTICIPANTS
Farida Abdul-Wahab is a young writer-director on the rise. Hailing from New York City, this Bronx native developed a love for
storytelling when she was placed in a playwriting class during her freshman year of high school. Always one to walk to the beat of
her own drum, Farida is not afraid to challenge herself or venture where no one has been. Clarity comes through action and over
time Farida was able to gain a better understanding of her purpose and passion. Ever since she was young, she knew she wanted to
help people and now plans to use television and film as her vehicle to impact the world. Her goal is to tell stories that not only
entertain, but also inspires and uplifts the voice of people of color and women across the globe. As a person who always looks to
hone her craft, Farida applied and was accepted to the Peter Stark Producing Program at the University of Southern California. She
graduated in May of 2018 and looks forward to building her career on producing stories that are authentic and relevant.
Rachel Bass is an award-winning filmmaker and Chicago native. Her short film “Black Magic” claimed the DGA Jury Award in 2016
and encapsulates her style of exploring race through magical realism. Rachel’s graduate thesis “Thicker than Water,” earned the
Women in Focus Meredith MacRae Memorial Award, as well as a nomination for the Princess Grace Awards. She is a graduate of
Amherst College where she majored in Black Studies, and is a recent M.F.A. graduate of Chapman University’s prestigious film
school, Dodge College of Film and Media Arts.
Lesley Elizondo is a Mexican American writer, director, and cinematographer born and raised in Los Angeles California. As a first
generation art scholar and filmmaker, she looks to tell significantly diverse stories through a multicultural American lens. Lesley
writes and directs stories based within the Mexican and the American diasporas that tend to explore themes of loss and love within
familial heritage and folklore. As a writer director, she has written and shot three original short films and adapted four theatrical
pieces for film. Her latest narrative short, “Romeo and Julio,” reimagines Juliet as a gay mexican american male living in a modern
Shakespearean verse speaking universe and remodels the story of forbidden love and loss. The completed film has been submitted
to national and international festivals. As a cinematographer, she has lensed drama, comedy, animation, music videos, single camera
series, documentaries, and films. Her cinematographic work has been shown in the Stella Adler Academy Hollywood Short Sweet
Festival and the Silver Lake Picture Show. Lesley has recently completed Master of Fine Arts in Cinematography from UCLA. She is
currently editing an experimental piece titled, ‘Memorias de mi abuelo;’ is working on writing a television original pilot and is the
cinematographer of the documentary “Fight Forward.”
Cydney Fisher grew up on a small farm in Middlesex, Virginia. She and her younger brother used to spend their days climbing trees,
picking grapes and running through cornfields. In high school, she soon realized that she no longer belonged in her small hometown.
Her mother always emphasized the importance of higher education and taught her to be fearless. She applied to colleges all across
the country and at 18 moved to Atlanta to pursue a bachelor’s degree in women’s studies at Spelman College. During undergrad, she
delved into photography and film. She made a few short films and a documentary about women of color and their experiences
online dating. One of her film teachers encouraged her to apply to film school, and a year later she did. While at USC’s School of
Cinematic Arts, Cydney has enjoyed learning how to perfect the art of storytelling. She co-wrote, Beads, a short that was produced
in USC’s flagship graduate class in the fall of 2016. She also produced, A Craftsman, in the spring of 2017 for the same class. As
a filmmaker, Cydney believes this school to be the perfect space for her to form a sturdy foundation for her career. She is self-
proclaimed TV junkie and has watched the entirety of Game of Thrones 4 times in addition to many other shows. In the future,
Cydney wants to create, write, and produce in the television world.
Kelley Kali, a California native and Howard University Alum, received her MFA from the University of Southern California’s School of
Cinematic Arts. She began her film journey with an internship at National Geographic Television and Film, which sparked her
interests in using the art of film to spotlight social issues within her local community and the world at large. She has since produced
and directed award-winning films in Belize, Haiti, China, and locally in the USA. In 2016, Kelley was selected to work with Ron
Howard and Brian Grazer’s New Form Digital, to develop her web series, The Discovery of Dit Dodson which has screened in
competition at, the Atlanta Film Festival, American Black Film Festival, the Pan African Film Festival and many others. She was then
fortunate to have her more recent film, Lalo’s House, filmed on location in Haiti and executive produced by Garcelle Beauvais and
Lisa L. Wilson, win the Programmers’ Award at the 2018 Pan African Film Festival. Kelley was also featured at the 2018 American
Black Film Festival in the Emerging Directors category and is a finalist in the 45th Annual Student Academy Awards.
Lynelle White is originally from Freeport, New York and was that weird girl who brought an EMPIRE STRIKES BACK lunch box to
school back when it wasn’t exactly cool for a girl to be into that sort of stuff. Before pursuing a second career as a television writer,
she was an active duty pilot in the United States Air Force. Lynelle acquired over 2200 flying hours conducting air refueling and VIP
transport missions in support of operations such as Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. She was previously a staff writer on the
Lifetime television drama ARMY WIVES and was more recently a staff writer on SyFy network’s zombie apocalypse series, Z NATION.
Her most recent directorial effort, a short film entitled “AN UBER TALE”, screened at the Silverlake Picture Show, the Alameda
International Film Festival and the Short and Sweet Film Festival in Hollywood. Lynelle earned her M.F.A in Screenwriting from the
University of California, Los Angeles in June 2017 and was shortly thereafter named a fellow in Film Independent’s inaugural Episodic
Lab. She is also the recipient of the 2016 NAACP/NBC Universal Television Fellowship and the 2017 Women In Film Eleanor Perry Writing Award.