2019 INSIGHT PROGRAM SUBMISSIONS CLOSED
See immediately below for additional information.
INSIGHT is a community for women of color media creators. With support and resources from Women In Film, we are creating a group aimed to elevate our careers in a collective and nurturing way, and provide guidance and knowledge-sharing with one another. Participation includes open dialogue sessions, collaboration with fellow participants, and the opportunities to plan custom programs. Ultimately we hope to address the vast range of what it takes to forge livelihoods in entertainment. There is urgency in our industry to address professional challenges faced by those of us with intersectional identities. We come together to ensure our voices and work are valued by each other and the entertainment field at large.
In addition to the larger community, 15 INSIGHT Fellows will receive mentoring, bi-monthly master classes, and the opportunity to be featured on the Women In Film website. Master class topics range from creative producing to directing actors (and many things in between). If you are not selected for a fellowship, there will be other avenues to be involved, so we hope you’ll stay connected.
Eligibility & Requirements:
- Creative professional with relevant credits in your field
- OR recent graduate of media studies program (film or production related)
- OR currently matriculated in graduate media studies program (film or production related)
- Actively working on creative projects
- Current Women In Film Member
- OR referred by an INSIGHT participant
- OR referred by a Women In Film staff member
- Identify as a woman of color or non-binary person of color
Notification Date: August 19th
Participants of the 2018 INSIGHT Program
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, a.k.a. 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, Pennsylvania. She holds a B.A. 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. Check out the deck and one sheet for Alicia’s web series “Fishing,” and read the pilot of “Freedom,” a civil rights era teen drama.
Brittany “B.Monét” 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 M.F.A. 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 Girlgze. 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, California, 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 included 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. Read Asha’s feature-length drama LOOKING FOR SUNSHINE.
Alexi Gonzalez is a writer/director whose most recent work is as an Associate Producer working creatively on season three of “On My Block,” Netflix’s ranked #1 binged show of 2018. Born in Southern California, 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 in 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 with the Hammer Museum hosted by writer-director David O. Russell and 21st Century Fox Chairman Jim Gianopulos. With no previous extensive knowledge of the language or culture, DEMON’S GATE was shot in Tokyo, Japan, entirely in Japanese with a predominantly female cast and crew. After graduating from this award-winning film school, Alexi went on to take part in the Warner Bros. Directing in Television workshop where she was trained alongside industry professionals to prepare her for her flourishing career in the television industry. 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 urge them to explore and discuss the grey areas of life. Watch official “On My Block Writers” YouTube channel original content, DEMON’S GATE, and the music video sample “Pray.”
Melissa V. Murray
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, which she will also direct. The project is being produced by Effie T. Brown and Leah Natasha Thomas.
Chicana Directors Initiative 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 U.S. and their experiences. She usually creates mini documentaries 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.
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 B.A. 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 of 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 Directors, etc. Check out Kayden’s projects, including the upcoming feature DARK ECHO (currently in pre-production).
Sylvia Ray is an award-winning director, writer, and co-founder of VKTRY Creative Studios. She has been selected for HBO and Hola Mexico Film Festival’s Tomorrow’s Filmmakers Today program. As a storyteller, she focuses on telling grounded stories with diverse female leads. Sylvia’s films have appeared across the world in festivals like Phoenix Film Festival and Adirondack Film Festival. She’s been asked to speak on several panels and podcasts like Creativity School and was featured in VoyageLA and Huffington Post. She has also worked creatively with clients such as Magnopus, Disney, and Disney Pixar. She is an active member of the selective Women In Film INSIGHT group and Alliance of Women Directors’ InSalon group. Having grown up in a small desert town—where nearly half the population lives below the poverty line—and moving to Los Angeles as a young adult, she draws inspiration from her own self discipline and determination, and provides a unique perspective as a Korean/Mexican-American woman. Watch Sylvia’s short films A PERIOD PIECE (password: app) and LEN(N)Y (password: lenny), and her directing reel.
Jessica Mendez Siquieros is a Mexican-American writer, director, and actress seeking to normalize complex and authentic narratives about the Southwest Mexican-American community through film. Her filmmaking style is highly cinematic and composed, described by Remezcla as “reclaiming a vision of storytelling often only associated with white creators.” Her debut short film POZOLE is an official selection of SIFF, Indy Shorts, and LALIFF, among others. The film took home the Jury Prize for Best Narrative Short Film (Comedy) at Cinequest, qualifying for the 2020 Academy Awards. Selected as a director mentee in the AT&T Hello Lab Mentorship Program, she is currently directing her next short film under the guidance of Lena Waithe. Her first feature film REFORMA delves into the colorful, complicated world of a young Latina woman in La Reforma (the Tuscon, Arizona housing projects) in the 1960s. REFORMA is currently in development and seeking funding with the support of NALIP’s Latino Media Market.
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 inspire and uplift the voices 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 producing stories that are authentic and relevant.
Lesley Elizondo is a Mexican-America 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 complete 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 her Master of Fine Arts in Cinematography from UCLA. She is currently editing an experimental piece titled MEMORIAS DE MI ABUELO, is working on writing an original television pilot, and is the cinematographer of the documentary FIGHT FORWARD. Check out the concept video and one sheet for MEMORIAS DE MI ABUELO, the proposal and Seed & Spark campaign for FIGHT FORWARD, the one sheet for ROMEO AND JULIO, and the series bible and one sheet for “Fall and Revolution.”
Kelley Kali, a California native and Howard University alumna, received her M.F.A. 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 U.S. 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.
Christine grew up in the psychedelic Haight Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco. After being inspired by Fellini and Kurosawa as a teenager, she began her many years journey to film production. She has written and/or directed/produced/shot/edited five narrative short films, two of which have screened at CAAMFest and Frameline. She is currently an MFA Directing student at UCLA, and is a recipient of a number of awards, including the Jack Nicholson Distinguished Student Director Award, Motion Picture Association of America Award, the WIF Verna Fields Memorial Scholarship, Antonio Blanco Fellowship, and the HFPA Directing Fellowship. Her travels around the world, political activism in Asian-American and gay and bi women’s communities, and work in a public hospital, have all been grounding sources of inspiration for her vision. She is deeply inspired to continue telling cinematic stories about people’s inner lives and their perspectives of the world. Watch STILL HEART and INFINITE BREATH—password for both is “looknow.”
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 2,200 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.