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, 18 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.
Announcing the 2020 INSIGHT PARTICIPANTS
Angela Harvey is an award-winning writer/producer for television, film, and multimedia. Her television credits include shows on MTV, CBS, ABC, and Marvel Television. She’s also served as Executive Producer on independent movies such as the recent hit Jinn and the soon-to-be-released Max and Me. Angela earned a Webby Award Honor for writing the trans media experience Teen Wolf: The Hunt and she’s currently writing the script for her feature film directorial debut.
Angelique is a Los Angeles based filmmaker. Inspired by visual storytelling, she is pursuing a career as a film and television Director and Cinematographer. She was the cinematographer on “Amelia’s Closet,” a short film that won the HBO best short award at the American Black Film Festival and was a finalist in the 43rd Student Academy awards. She also directed the Los Angeles Film Festival short “There goes the neighborhood.”
AVRIL Z. SPEAKS
Avril Speaks has experience as a producer, director, writer and educator. She produced Nijla Mumin’s critically-acclaimed feature film Jinn, which won the Special Jury Prize for Writing at SXSW and was acquired for theatrical and VOD release. She is currently in production on the film African America, which will be her third film feature film as a producer. A former professor at Howard University and a contributing writer for DearProducer.com, Avril also has been a Producing Fellow in Sundance, Rotterdam, Cannes, IFP and Film Independent labs and networks, with several films in development.
Elizabeth Franco is a creative executive, producer, and writer. She is currently a Manager of Program Development at CNN Original Series working on several shows including United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell and This is Life with Lisa Ling. Elizabeth has previously worked at WME, Vox Media Studios, NBCUniversal and Escape Artists Entertainment. She is a graduate of UCLA with a degree in Communication Studies and also attended UCLA Law where she studied Critical Race Studies and Entertainment Law.
Elizabeth was a 2019 Film Independent Project Involve Fellow and was named the 21st Century Fox Global Inclusion Fellow. As a part of the fellowship, she executive produced two short films, Black Boy Joy, and The Terrorist. She also produces live sketch and comedy shows that feature all-diverse teams of writers, directors, producers, and performers. Elizabeth is particularly drawn to the creative process of crafting compelling stories with social, cultural and political significance, as well as working towards meaningful representation.
Gabrielle Ebron graduated with honors from the Film Studies program at Wesleyan University, where she won the Akiva Goldsman Prize in Screenwriting for her feature script, Like Mother, Like Daughter. After moving to Los Angeles, she joined Homegrown Pictures as an assistant where she began to learn the ropes from seasoned producer Stephanie Allain. With an eye for authentic stories, she was promoted within the year to Creative Executive, where she is charged with finding young voices and developing current projects. She helped bring in Homegrown’s first Asian American project, and her first TV show, Plainview, is on the fast track to production.
Gabby Revilla Lugo is a Nicaraguan-American writer/director/producer who began her career as a Line Producer, giving her a great balance of creative and fiduciary awareness. Over the past few years she’s shifted more to the creative side, graduating from the Fox Writer’s Intensive program and placing in the top 10% of the Nicholls fellowship. She’s worked with notable collaborators like Andy Samberg, Ted Melfi, Damien Chazelle, Robbie Brenner and many more. A history major, graduate of James Madison University she considers herself first and foremost, a student of storytelling and looks forward to telling stories of marginalized people around the globe. She’s set to announce her feature directorial debut in the fall of 2019.
Jeannie Nguyen is a writer/director born and raised in San Jose, currently residing in Los Angeles. Her unconventional, self-taught approach to filmmaking — inspired by her hyphenated upbringing — plunges deep into social issues of minorities and stirs up surreal, dream-like narratives to strike a conversation.
Jeannie’s first short, “First Generation”, a Vimeo Staff Pick, won Best Narrative Short at SDAFF. Her sophomore film, “Sigh Gone”, premiered on Nowness and screened at Raindance, and was selected as Vimeo’s January 2019 Best of the Month. Her most recent film, “Clam Dog” won Best Comedy Short Film Grand Prize at Flickers’ Rhode Island International Film Festival and Best Film at SXSB. She’s currently in development for an episodic narrative.
Beyond daydreaming, creating and collaborating, Jeannie is in pursuit of reaching a wide audience with her stories relating to the Asian-American experience, specifically highlighting the Vietnamese community, in order to spark sense in defunct ideologies. Daughter of refugees, she strives to be the voice of the underrepresented in order to shed light on those who are otherwise deemed invisible.
Jessica D. Shields is an award-winning writer and director, originally from Atlanta, Georgia. Shields is a participant in the AFI Directing Workshop for Women Class of 2021. She participated in the HBO Access Writing Fellowship and was the recipient of the 2019 HUMANITAS Prize Drama Fellowship. Her forthcoming directorial project, BLUE HOUR, is supported by the Women in Film Production Program, where she is a Directing Fellow.
Shields is an alumna of Project Involve, Film Independent’s flagship artist development program. As a Project Involve Screenwriting Fellow, she penned the award-winning short film WEDNESDAY. WEDNESDAY screened at the 2018 LA Film Festival and officially premiered at the 2019 American Black Film Festival as an HBO Shorts finalist. WEDNESDAY has since screened at The Pan-African Film Festival, Urbanworld and the Global Impact Film Festival. WEDNESDAY is currently available via HBO On-Demand.
Shields participated in the Moving Picture Institute Pilot Workshop in 2018 and was a finalist for the Tribeca Sloan Filmmaker Fund (2017), IFP No Borders (2017) and the Nantucket Film Festival Screenwriting Competition (2017). As a theater artist, she worked in dramaturgy and literary management with prominent regional theaters including the Nashville Reparatory Theatre, 7 Stages Theatre, Synchronicity Theatre and the Tony-Award winning Alliance Theatre. Shields received her MFA in Screenwriting and Directing from Columbia University. She previously studied at New York University’s Tisch Asia in Singapore and is an alumna of Vanderbilt University.
An award-winning filmmaker, Kase was born in New York City. She’s a Transgender Latinx Woman, the offspring of working class parents from the Dominican Republic, and she’s fully fluent in Spanish. She’s the first Trans Latinx Woman to get hired as a Staff Writer on a scripted TV show and she is also the first Trans Latinx Female to join the Writers Guild of America. Last year, Kase shadowed Emmy Award winning Director/Showrunner Jill Soloway on the set of Transparent Musicale Finale. Further, Kase has been the recipient of some of the most prestigious Fellowships in the industry, including The Sundance Institute Launch Grant; The Latino Lens Narrative Shorts Incubator; Film Independent Project Involve; The Ryan Murphy Half Initiative and the Outfest Screenwriting Lab. Sony Pictures Entertainment named Kase their Diversity Fellow for 2019. HBO has picked up distribution rights to Full Beat, Kase’s latest short film. Along with her short film Trabajo, this marks the second time HBO distributes a film written and directed by Kase Pena. Regarding her interests, Kase is mostly inclined in relating powerful human stories. Some of her favorite films and TV shows include: Do The Right Thing; Mean Streets; This Is Us; Curb Your Enthusiasm; John Ridley’s American Crime and Breaking Bad. Kase is repped by Gersh and Epicenter.
Krenée A. Tolson was born and raised in Baltimore, MD where she discovered her love for acting. She began training at the age of 13 with the Baltimore School for the Art Twigs program and at 14 was accepted into the school as a high school student where she continued to study theatre. In 2008, she was accepted in DePaul University’s Theatre School, in Chicago, IL. As a professional actress credits include Chicago PD, For the Cause directed by Katherine Nero, and tons of theatre in Chicago, Baltimore, and DC. She made her directorial debut in early 2018 in The First to Fight, a short film illuminating the issues of U.S.Veterans returning from combat and dealing with PTSD. Krenée starred opposite Jeremy Tardy in her Writing/Producing debut film Finding Phoebe. The film received The John Hopkins Saul Zaentz Innovation Grant and is currently in the festival circuit.
Kryzz Gautier is a queer, Afro-Latina writer/director born and raised in the Dominican Republic. As the only child of a disabled mother Kryzz spent most of her formative years having to entertain herself which is how she developed a penchant for creating complex worlds filled with three-dimensional characters. After high school she immigrates to the United States to earn her BA in Directing Narrative Fiction from Emerson College but soon after earning her degree, her legal status lapses and she spends the next half a decade living as an undocumented immigrant. Kryzz injects this distinctive and colorful background into her character-driven dramas and novel sci-fi narratives. Kryzz has been selected as a participant in multiple programs and fellowships including Ryan Murphy’s “Half Initiative” for emerging episodic directors, Women In Film’s “INSIGHT”, and the DGA’s “Commercial Director’s Diversity Program”. Kryzz has also been invited to take part in Women In Film’s mentorship program where she is currently being mentored by writer/director and “Queen Sugar” showrunner Kat Candler. Some other accolades include being named as an “Emerging Content Creator” by The National Association Of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP) and being recognized with Superlounge’s “Diversity Award for Directors” curated by acclaimed director Jordan Brady. With a feature, a pilot for A&E/Lifetime, a pilot presentation for one of the major networks, an award-winning theater play, and more than a handful of award-winning shorts that have played at international film festivals under her belt it’s easy to gauge that Kryzz is nothing short of multifaceted.
LAUREN E. ZUBIA CALSADA
I am a filmmaker born and raised in LA. My story begins with my family. I come from love, from strong women, from multi-generational homes. I come from spicy food and communal kitchens. In the past five years, my artistic practice has evolved just like my family. I have experience in documentary and experimental video about healing through music, poetry and movement. Last year, I was granted the opportunity that upstarted my career. I co-directed a docu-series about a queer chosen family who dance vogue in Mexico City called House of Mamis. The series was later awarded by GLAAD for its pioneering approach to storytelling. Now, I am interested in broadening my content to show the scope of my extended queer latinx chosen family and identity.
MARISCELA BEATRIZ MENDEZ
Mariscela Beatríz Méndez was born and raised in Texas, where her passion for visual arts brought her to Los Angeles to pursue cinematography. Since attending AFI, Mariscela has shot numerous forms of media that have aired and screened for Slamdance and Amazon Prime. She regularly shoots for Conde Nast (Allure, Self, Vanity Fair) where she most recently shot BeBe Rexha and Lucy Hale. Mariscela has been recognized by her contemporaries, shooting for the prestigious Project Involve for Film Independent. She was selected to participate in the 2019 American Society of Cinematographer’s Mentor Program as well as one of twenty filmmakers to join the Women in Film 2020 INSIGH Fellowship Program. Mariscela wrapped Season 2 of the web series ADULTING (Amazon Prime), as well as a several commercials for GOOGLE and THE CLOROX COMPANY. Mariscela is based in Los Angeles, but works throughout the United States.
Martina Lee is a writer/director who decided to pursue her passion for film in 2013 by attending New York University Tisch Asia in Singapore. It was there that she began her journey to find her artistic voice. In 2015 she moved to Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California. While developing her craft at USC, she was awarded the prestigious Annenberg Fellowship in 2016 and then again in 2017. Her award- winning film “Blueberry” starring Evan Alec from Jordan Peele’s movie “US” made it into a number of film festivals including the American Black Film Festival and Blackstar Film Festival. “Blueberry” also aired on both Aspire TV and in SHOT TV in Russia. After school she was a creative coordinator for White Horse Pictures and worked on “The Apollo”, directed by Roger Ross Williams and “Pavoratti”, directed by Ron Howard. She was accepted as a directing fellow for the 2019 Project Involve Film Independent where she developed her next short, “Black Boy Joy” starring William Catlett (from “Love is…” and “Black Lightning”) and Evan Alex. She currently is working as a post-production coordinator for a new TV show airing this fall on CBS, while developing her own personal projects.
Meena is a comedy writer/director from South Texas—that means she’s one of the few Indian people who can tell you where to get a good taco. Currently, Meena is a writer on Ghee Happy, a Netflix animated series about the adventures of Hindu gods. Meena is a graduate of University of Texas’ film program and of USC’s M.F.A Production program. She is also the creator of The FOB and I, a South Asian webseries featured by NBC, Indiewire, and the BBC. After years spent working in healthcare in South Texas, Meena is developing Medical Assistants, a half hour comedy that satires the mess of America’s healthcare by the border. Meena is also writing Brown Town, a teen musical movie about South Asian acapella – the viral singing sensation that mashes Bollywood hits with American pop ballads
Shandrea Evans is an actor-filmmaker whose storytelling is deeply seasoned with her Southern roots. Born and raised in Augusta, GA, she began writing, directing and acting in plays and films at her fine arts school. With both parents being one of 7 children, she had a gamut of odd humans to use as character study. Shandrea uses her unique point of view to intentionally explore the nuances, beauty, and fierce spirit of marginalized groups, particularly black women. With a cynically optimistic voice, Shandrea’s method of choice is quirky dramedy. Recently, she was a shadowing director on Season 4 of HBO’s Insecure, where she had a month long apprenticeship with showrunner/director Prentice Penny. Currently, Shandrea is in post production on “Prepared,” a short romantic comedy about a woman whose dating struggles lead her to “fail up” to self-acceptance. She also just wrapped on a commercial for Issa Rae’s music company Raedio, which she produced and acted in. Her body of work includes her web series UNDECIDED, short films, and an original pilot. On Sundays, you can find her in class at UCB or lining up at a trendy ice cream shop.
Sue-Ellen Chitunya, is a multilingual filmmaker who hails from Zimbabwe. A graduate of Georgia State University (BA) and the UCLA producing certification program. She is the 2016 Roger and Chaz Ebert Foundation Fellowship recipient. Chitunya has produced several award-winning shorts. She is an alumnus of; Berlinale Talents, Durban Talents, Kyoto Filmmakers Lab, and CaribbeanTales Incubator. Her varied work experience includes: consulting for Zimbabwe International Film Festival, producing the Big PictureCon, interning for ICM at Cannes Film Festival, programming for Slamdance and Atlanta Film Festivals, and marketing for Disney College Program. She recently worked as a post-production coordinator for Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Infinity War and Black Panther.
Winnie Kemp is an independent producer who most recently ran tv development at Super Deluxe. During her time there, she developed and executive produced THIS CLOSE (Season 2 comes out SundanceTV in September), a groundbreaking dramedy series that was nominated for Best Comedy Series by the GLAAD Media Awards, nominated for a Peabody Award and won the PGA George Sunga Award, and CHAMBERS for Netflix, the first tv show from a major network to have a Native American starring in a lead role. Prior to joining Super Deluxe in 2015, she worked in independent film finance at CAA and in development at CBS Films.