Women In Film and Ghetto Film School Partner to Expand the Hollywood Pipeline
Los Angeles, California, September 26, 2018 – Women In Film Los Angeles (WIF) and Ghetto Film School (GFS) have partnered to elevate the careers of emerging women of color filmmakers. Beginning in Fall 2018, six participants of Ghetto Film School’s ROSTER program will join WIF scholarship recipients and women from the Chicana Directors Initiative to receive mentoring and master classes from leaders in screen entertainment through a new, year-long program titled INSIGHT. The program will culminate with one GIF participant being selected to produce a short film in the 2019 Women In Film Fall Production Program.
Mentors and instructors will include Jamila Hunter, ABC SVP and head of Comedy; writer/producer Wendy Calhoun; writer/director Nisha Ganatra; actor Jessica Paré; Naketha Mattocks, Netflix Director of Kids and Family Live Action Movies; Yira Vilaro, Creative Executive at MACRO, amongst many others.
“It was clear from our initial conversation that Ghetto Film School’s ROSTER and Women In Film were natural partners with shared goals,” said Kisha Imani Cameron, Chief Talent Development Officer of Ghetto Film School. “The idea that Hollywood lacks qualified and talented women of color is purely myth. ROSTER is 70% female identified, and we work with these incredibly talented women every day. It’s an honor to support them as they build the skills and intuition essential to bringing their stories to life. Through this program with Women In Film, we’re confident that they will no longer be overlooked.”
According to the 2018 report “Inclusion In the Director’s Chair?” from USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, of 1100 top-grossing films made between 2007 and 2017, only seven were directed by women of color. Furthermore, none of the women directors were Latinx. 2018 has revealed the continued need for a new sense of community to galvanize real change, which inspired the INSIGHT program.
“We’re in a moment when diversity and inclusion are forefront for industry decision makers. But to see accurate representation, the culture has to shift at an essential level,” said Maikiko James, the recently appointed Women In Film Director of Programs. “Women of color filmmakers require a strong network of advocates with a stake in their success in order to start seeing their numbers increase at the rate they should, and that’s what this partnership is designed to create.”
Read below for details on GIF’s inaugural 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 has previously partnered with Google, Tribeca Film Institute, MTV, Funny or Die, Mom+Pop Music, the Ghetto Film School and several other companies. She has won numerous awards and grants including the Scholastic Art & Writing National Gold Key and Tribeca Youth Achievement Award. Coming from a visual and fine art background, Alejandra has a keen eye for design, detail and aesthetic.
Most recently, Alejandra was one of nine out of 350 applicants to be a part of 72andSunny’s Los Angeles creative residency, 72U. Her team created an initiative called PROJECT RESTART, a platform serving to change the stigma around formerly incarcerated people by 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, PA. She holds a BA in Visual & Media Arts Production from Emerson College, with a focus in creative producing for television and film. She is passionate about inclusion and representation in media and entertainment and has experience in theater, television, and film. She is a fierce advocate for content-aware entertainment media practices and the empowered prevention of power-based interpersonal violence, which she was featured in her 2016 TEDx talk at Beaconstreet in Boston.
In 2017 Alicia 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’s Season Two. Afterwards, she continued working in literary management and television, film, and documentary production, and 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.Monét” Fennell
Brittany “B.Monét” Fennell is a writer/director from Silver Spring, Maryland. She has a B.A. in English from Spelman College, and 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.
B.Monet was named the 2017 Horizon Award Winner through Cassian Elwes, Christine Vachon and Lynette Howell – Taylor at the Sundance Film Festival, is recipient of the Adrienne Shelly Foundation grant, and a directing fellow for Film Independent’s residency program Project Involve. She is also is amongst the winners of the #NewView Film Competition with Glamour and Girlgaze, which champions the voices of female filmmakers. She also directed a branded short film on the #MeToo founder, Tarana Burke, for Levi’s and Girlgaze.
Most recently, B.Monet 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, and was a finalist in the Women in Film Mini Upfronts Program. She is also 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. She graduated with a BA in Women’s Studies from Loyola Marymount University, where she also took classes in their film school. Her studies lead her to dedicate her work to shedding light on the often-neglected stories of those marginalized both on and off-screen to alleviate their struggle for authentic and diverse portrayal.
Asha aspires to create her own vision by writing, directing, and producing her own material with the goal of drastically diversifying and improving the authenticity of the representation of all people in mainstream entertainment. With 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. She would like to continue to write and direct, and aims to become a showrunner of game-changing network television.
Alexi Gonzalez is a Writer/Director who is currently an Associate Producer working creatively in the Writer’s Room of “On My Block” Season 2. Alexi started her filmmaking journey in New York City where, at age 15, she had a short film premiere at Lincoln Center. After graduating high school, Alexi moved to Los Angeles to take part of the Ghetto Film School Expansion where her next short film “Abby Normal” premiered at The Bing Theatre at LACMA. The following year, Alexi’s 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 the Japanese language with a predominately female cast and crew. She has since participated in 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, was destined for a career in filmmaker. Born to a cinematographer mother who introduced her to Hollywood classics at a young age, Melissa enrolled at Ghetto Film School in junior high 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 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 played at several film festivals and received distribution from companies including Amazon and Gravitas Ventures. Melissa uses her art as a vehicle to understand ‘the other’, 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 direct and is being produced by Effie T. Brown and Leah Natasha Thomas.