Since its beginnings in 1973 as Women in Film (WIF) Los Angeles, WIF has actively used its platform to advocate for women who work in front of the camera and behind-the-scenes across film and television.
No stranger to amplifying the diversity agenda and prioritizing women of color, last year WIF partnered with New York Women in Film & Television and Women in Film and Television Atlanta to launch the Hire Her Black initiative to promote gender and racial equality by providing grants to women who have been directly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Now, ESSENCE is proud to announce WIF’s latest program, curated specifically for aspiring and veteran Black women in the film industry: Women in Film Pathmakers.
Designed to highlight the career journeys of incredibly talented and passionate Black women leaders and innovators in Hollywood, WIF Pathmakers fosters mentorship between established writers, directors, producers, marketers, showrunners, and more and their hand-selected awardees. The “rising star” chosen by each of these multifaceted trailblazers will receive a no-strings-attached grant of $5,000, courtesy of Stella Artois, which can be put toward career endeavors or supporting their livelihood.
Throughout Women’s History Month, we will highlight four pathmakers’ journeys in exclusive interviews which shed light on life-changing career decisions and the importance of Black women supporting one another in film. Meet the 2021 WIF Pathmakers below.
Huriyyah is an award-winning writer, director, and producer whose projects have been invited to the Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Film Institute, AFI Film Fest, Austin Film Festival, New Voices in Black Cinema, IFP Film Week and many others. She is a Sundance Creative Producing Fellow and a recipient of the 2020 Sundance Creative Producing Award for Farewell Amor. Award-winning and critically acclaimed, Farewell Amor premiered in competition at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, garnered 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, and was bought for distribution by IFC Films.
Huriyyah’s directing credits include the cult-favorite sci-fi series, Keloid, which screened extensively throughout the U.S. and won Best Web Series at multiple film festivals including the American Black Film Festival. Her award-winning children’s short, OutGrown, continues to screen at festivals and has won awards including Best Short Film and Best Cinematography. Huriyyah is co-founder of the Black TV & Film Collective, a 1400-member non-profit dedicated to developing and supporting the work of Black artists within television and film.
In 2018, Huriyyahwas recognized as an inaugural member of the CASSIUS Creative Class, a consortium of creatives of color, using their voices to create positive social and economic change. Huriyyah holds a BS in Computer Science from Spelman College and an MBA from NYU.
Andrea Nelson Meigs is a Partner and Agent in the Talent and Literary Departments at leading global entertainment company, United Talent Agency (UTA). For the past 20 years, she has built a clientele that consists of actors, writers, producers and directors and has negotiated multi-million-dollar deals in the areas of television, film, theater as well as branding and books.
Over the years, Nelson Meigs’ clients are ones that make history and impact pop culture all around the world. Some have included Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, Halle Berry, Jamie Foxx and Idris Elba. Currently, she represents everyone from Ellen Burstyn (the Tony, Emmy, Oscar, and Golden Globe winning actress known for films such as THE EXCORCIST, REQUEIM FOR A DREAM, ALICE DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE) to Quvenzhané Wallis (the youngest actress to be nominated for an Oscar in the history of the Motion Picture Academy for her performance in BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD and nominated for a Golden Globe for the iconic role of ANNIE) and, most recently, Roger Ross Williams (Oscar and Emmy winning documentary director of “Life, Animated” and most recent “Apollo” documentary).
Nelson Meigs is a member of the prestigious Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Science, is an establishing Board Member for TIME’s UP and is on the Board of Directors for Women in Film (WIF). Along with being a member of the Council of Motion Picture and Television Fund, she is a Steering Committee member of American Black Film Festival (ABFF), on the Advisory Committee for the Black Film Foundation (BFF) and is a member of the Ebell Theater of Los Angeles.
On the cover of ‘Black Enterprise’ and featured in their ‘Hot List: Best and Brightest Under 40’ issue, Nelson Meigs was also on the cover of Essence Magazine, in its Hollywood Issue and, in a subsequent issue, profiled as the ‘Women on Top’ in the ‘Career’ section. Further, she has also been profiled in the Billboard Magazine, The Hollywood Reporter, Daughters of Men book, Duke Magazine, Tufts Magazine, UCLA Medical Website, Ebony Magazine and Directors Magazine. In 2009, Andrea received the “P.T. Barnum Award for Excellence in Entertainment” from Tufts University and, in 2013, she became a History Maker, where her interview is archived as permanent collection in the Library of Congress.
In the History Maker interview, Nelson Meigs tells of her career beginning with an internship for Congresswoman Maxine Waters and the Los Angeles’ District Attorney’s Office, leaving the practice of law, going into entertainment by starting at the bottom / in the mailroom at Creative Artists Agency. Determined to make change, she climbed the ranks to become a Motion Picture Talent Agent (only the second African-American in the history of the agency) and after 11 years at CAA and another 14 years as a Senior Talent / Literary Agent at ICM Partners, Nelson Meigs has become a dominant force and renown trailblazer in the business – breaking ground for other young women and people of color to follow.
A member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, (an international community service organization), Nelson Meigs also volunteered with Big Brother Big Sister, regularly attends West Angeles Church and is an avid fundraiser for Cure SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy), a charitable organization that provides support and helps to raise funds for research to find a cure for SMA – (a disease which is the number one genetic cause of death for children under the age of two).
Nelson Meigs studied in Madrid, Spain at the Universidad de Autónoma (fluent in Spanish) and created an Exchange Program with Spelman College (a renown HBCU in Atlanta, Georgia). She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Tufts University, her Juris Doctor degree from Duke University School of Law and is a member of the California State Bar. She is married to John V. Meigs, Jr., (partner at entertainment law firm, Hansen Jacobson, Teller, et al) and proud mother of four beautiful daughters – (Avery Nelson Meigs, the late Alexandra Nina Meigs, Izzy Alexa Meigs and Calla Alexis Meigs).
Writer-producer Yvette Lee Bowser is the first and youngest African-American woman to create and run her own television series. She also has the distinction of executive producing and shepherding eight series onto myriad primetime, cable, and streaming platforms.
A graduate of Stanford University, Bowser earned dual degrees in political science and psychology. Bowser began her career in television as an apprentice writer on A Different World, where she penned 25 episodes and became a producer during her five-year tenure. Bowser proceeded to produce Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper before creating Living Single for FOX. Living Single was the number one comedy in African-American and Latino households for its entire five-year run. The series has had a robust presence in syndication and streaming for over two decades. Bowser also created the romantic comedy, For Your Love and served as executive producer of the hit series, Half & Half. After that, Bowser transitioned into the drama world where she consulted on several series, including Lipstick Jungle. Bowser also helped launch the groundbreaking and award-winning comedy, black-ish.
Bowser is Executive Producer on the critically acclaimed Dear White People and the EP/Showrunner on the new Starz series, Run The World, premiering spring 2021. A highly sought-after Showrunner and Creator, Bowser currently has a full slate of series she’s developing under a new overall pact with ABC Studios. Her dedication to producing high-quality programming compromised of culturally inclusive stories earned her a place in Stanford’s Multicultural Hall of Fame. Deeply committed to charitable causes, Bowser has lent her support to many organizations, including The Children’s Legal Defense Fund, The NAACP, The HollyRod Foundation, Free America, United Way, Girls Inc, My Good, and Tree People. In 2003, she founded The Butterfly Foundation to help disadvantaged children gain access to better education. In 2007, she joined forces with First Tuesday Media to combat apathy and encourage voter participation.
In 2008, Bowser worked on the Obama for America Campaign as a surrogate, often speaking on behalf of then-Senator Obama in support of his candidacy for President. Bowser was recently recognized by Black Enterprise as “One of the 50 Most Impactful Women in Business Over the Past 50 Years.” She currently holds a position on the Stanford Alumni Board, where she serves as a resource and as an ambassador for the Alumni Association in local communities. She also serves on the board of Less Cancer, an organization deeply committed to cancer prevention.
Understanding the value of helping others, Bowser is dedicated to mentoring writers and women in particular. Over the years, her guidance has empowered numerous writers to find work and success in the highly competitive television industry. An industry veteran, Bowser helped launch the Writers Guild of America’s Showrunner Training Program that has prepared some of today’s most prolific and successful writer-producers.
Born in Philadelphia, Bowser was raised and currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband, producer Kyle Bowser, and their two sons, Evan and Drew. She continues to strive to share her unique point-of-view and capture realities of our world with clarity, compassion, authenticity, and a generous amount of humor.
JaNeika and JaSheika James have had an ongoing love affair with film and television since childhood. It wasn’t until college that the twin sisters decided to pursue careers in film and TV, both graduating with bachelor’s degrees in Telecommunication from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism. While sharing common goals to write for television, JaNeika and JaSheika have taken very different paths in achieving those goals.
Upon graduating from the University of Florida, JaSheika went on to work for the hit series, Desperate Housewives and Dexter, and later in post-production at ABC Studios. Her professional experience in the writers’ room began on ABC’s Revenge, where she joined the writing staff in the third season.
Following JaNeika’s master’s studies at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communication, she had the opportunity to interview Yvette Lee Bowser, Creator and Executive Producer of the hit FOX television series Living Single. She began her career working for Mrs. Bowser on UPN’s HALF & HALF. JaNeika went on to work under the producing team of Jennifer Crittenden and Gabrielle Allan at ABC Studios, and later in Scripted Development at VH1.
JaNeika and JaSheika rose up the ranks from Staff Writers to Supervising Producers on Fox’s groundbreaking hit series, Empire. Currently, they serve as Co-Executive Producers on HBO Max’s Gossip Girl, and are developing a USA pilot, Philly Reign, as executive producers alongside Oscar-Nominated actress, Mary J. Blige. They are committed to creating, developing, and writing projects that enlighten, inspire, and entertain audiences around the world.
The James Twins’ debut book, “Living Double,” is a behind-the-scenes look at the competitive world of writing for television, as well an inspiring account of two sisters determined to make their dream careers a reality – and to share life lessons with those who have big dreams, but are uncertain how to achieve them.
As President and CEO of CBI Enterprises, Inc. Boone Isaacs has consulted for companies such as MTV Films, Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, Lionsgate and Sony Entertainment. She previously served as president of theatrical marketing for New Line Cinema and developed and executed campaigns for such films as Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Rush Hour and Blade.
Prior to joining New Line, Boone Isaacs was executive vice president of worldwide publicity for Paramount Pictures, where she orchestrated, among others, the publicity campaigns for the Best Picture winners Forrest Gump and Braveheart. Boone Isaacs is currently an adjunct professor at Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. She has an Honorary Doctorate from Chapman University Dodge College of Film and Media Arts and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and is an NAACP Hall of Fame Inductee and AFI Trustee Emeritus.
Sonya (Soni) Ede-Williams has spent over 20 years in National publicity managing all phases of strategy for films distributed by Paramount Pictures, Walt Disney Studios, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros. and a host of others. During her tenure at the Paramount, she developed campaigns on over 50 critically acclaimed films including releases from DreamWorks Animation, Nickelodeon Movies, MTV Films and DreamWorks Pictures. She launched SYE Publicity in 2008 crafting award-winning campaigns catering to the Urban & Faith Consumer where she served as the agency of record for Universal Pictures.
In her role as Director of Marketing, Worldwide Publicity & Promotions at Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, she executed both traditional and nontraditional tools to drive awareness on campaigns from Searchlight Films as well as Acquired & Catalog properties. Sonya served as Vice President, Rogers & Cowan in their Los Angeles office before relaunching her Consulting agency, SYStrategies & PR.
Brown has several projects in development, including: the Whitney Houston biopic I Wanna Dance With Somebody, to be directed by Stella Meghie and penned by Anthony McCarten; Matilda the Musical; Gina Prince-Bythewood’s next film The Woman King, starring Viola Davis; and an adaptation of Kristin Hannah’s best-selling novel The Nightingale starring Elle and Dakota Fanning.
Before TriStar, Nicole was an EVP at Good Universe, originally formed as Mandate Pictures, where she oversaw the development of the company’s slate of films. Movies Brown shepherded and helped produce during this time include Neighbors, This is the End, Last Vegas, Evil Dead, the Harold and Kumar franchise, Independent Spirit Award-winning 50/50, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, The Possession, and Whip It. A Los Angeles native, Brown got her start interning at Miramax while attending Columbia University. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa, Nicole was accepted into the Peter Stark Producing Program at USC, but instead chose to work for producer Marc Platt where she worked on projects such as the Legally Blonde franchise and Honey. Nicole is an Academy member and a mentor for Reframe Rise and Sony’s Mentorship Initiative.
Fassa Sar is a Worldwide Acquisitions executive for Sony Pictures. Since joining the division in 2018 as an intern, Fassa has worked on various film acquisitions, including Searching starring John Cho and Debra Messing, I Carry You With Me directed by Heidi Ewing, and most recently Broken Hearts Gallery directed by Natalie Krinsky and produced by Selena Gomez.
Prior to joining Sony, Fassa interned at Variety Magazine and United Talent Agency. She also served as a congressional intern for Congressman Eric Swalwell and worked on now Vice President Kamala Harris, for her Senate campaign run in 2016. With her political experience, Fassa is now committed to finding ways to democratize film and television so that underrepresented voices can be seen and heard.
As an individual with dual heritage, American and Senegalese, Fassa is devoted to uncovering unique stories that define cultural conversations that span across borders. She is a proud Bay Area native and graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor’s in Political Science and a minor in Film, Media, TV Studies in 2018.
Terilyn A. Shropshire collaborates with some of the industry’s most talented filmmakers and television creators. Recently, Shropshire edited the feature film, The Old Guard, marking her sixth project over a 20-year collaboration with director Gina Prince-Bythewood.
In 2019, Shropshire received an American Cinema Editors Eddie nomination for her work on Part 1 of Netflix’s 4-part mini-series When They See Us, directed by Ava DuVernay. Her distinctive roster includes feature films such as Miss Bala, directed by Catherine Hardwicke; Beyond the Lights, The Secret Life of Bees, and Love and Basketball, directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood; as well as Kasi Lemmon’s films Eve’s Bayou, The Caveman’s Valentine, Talk to Me, and Black Nativity. Other notable work includes: Sparkle, Jumping The Broom, Waist Deep, , Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Biker Boyz, and Cops and Robbers, an animated short on social justice.Shropshire earned an Emmy nomination for the Lifetime Achievement Award tribute to Sidney Poitier for the 74th Annual Academy Awards and an ACE Eddie Award for Redemption: The Stan Tookie Williams Story. Shropshire’s career success crosses media platforms, contributing to TV projects such as HBO special Between the World and Me, the pilot for Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger, Shots Fired, and Quantico.
Shropshire earned dual Bachelor of Arts degrees in Broadcast Journalism and Cinema at the University of Southern California. She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, American Cinema Editors and the Diversity Committee of the Motion Picture Editor’s Guild. She is the recipient of the 2021 Sundance Institute/Adobe Mentorship Award for her commitment to supporting the future’s rising stars in the craft.
Shannon Baker Davis, ACE, is an award-winning television and film editor, who began her career in New York, editing unscripted shows and documentaries. After 10 years working on many iconic and Emmy-winning shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway, Shannon began adding narrative television and feature films to her resume. Her credits include Insecure, Grown-ish, and Queen Sugar.
In features, Davis edited Armstrong, starring Vicky Jeudy, Sean Parsons, Jason Antoon and Kevin Pollak, and The Weekend (Lionsgate), starring Sasheer Zamata, Tone Bell and DeWanda Wise from director Stella Meghie. The Weekend had its World Premiere at the Toronto Film Festival in 2018, and screened at AFI Fest, South by Southwest and Tribeca Film Festival. Next, Davis cut the feature, The Obituary of Tunde Johnson, directed by Ali LeRoi (creator, Everybody Hates Chris), which premiered at TIFF and was released theatrically in February of 2021. Shannon reunited with Stella Meghie on The Photograph (Universal), starring Issa Rae and LaKeith Stanfield, and then went on to cut the Netflix series #blackaf, created by Kenya Barris.
Davis’s series and film credits run the gamut, from funny to heartbreaking, provocative to visual-effects-heavy and action-packed. She is a member of ACE, where she is a mentor in their Diversity Mentorship Program. She serves on the Motion Picture Editors Guild Board of Directors, where she is also the Co-chair of the African-American Steering Committee, and she is a founding member of Ujima Entertainment Coalition and Black In Post. Shannon grew up in Augusta, GA, earned degrees from Howard University and The American Film Institute, and resides in Los Angeles, CA, with her husband and two children.
Debra Lee serves as a Director on the Boards of AT&T, Burberry Group plc, Marriott International and Procter & Gamble. Ms. Lee is the Chairman of Leading Women Defined Foundation. (an association of U.S. black female strategic thought leaders, located in Beverly Hills, California), which she founded in 2009. She has served in this capacity since June 2018.
Ms. Lee recently launched The Monarchs Collective, a venture created to put more BIPOC on corporate boards and in executive leadership positions. She is a Co-Founder of The Monarchs Collective. Ms. Lee served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of BET Networks (a global media and entertainment subsidiary of Viacom, Inc., headquartered in New York, New York) from 2006 until her retirement in 2018. Ms. Lee joined BET Networks in 1986 and served in several leadership roles, including President and Chief Executive Officer (2005-2006), President and Chief Operating Officer (1995-2005), and Executive Vice President and General Counsel (1986-1995).
Gabrielle Glore navigates the independent film space as producer (Sylvie’s Love), executive producer (Dirty Laundry), film financier (Through the Fire), and Festival Director / Head of Programming for Urbanworld, a 25-year-old NYC based festival providing a platform for inclusive storytellers from around the globe. She produced two seasons of The Round for BET’s female-focused network CENTRIC, a TV show providing a platform for women of color giving inspiring TED-style talks across various topics.
Under the GLORIFIED production banner, she is developing a slate of episodic and feature projects, spanning the scripted, unscripted and animation genres. She serves as a consulting producer for WarnerMedia’s 150 content innovation hub, with an eye on sourcing and developing stories differently, while surfacing projects for elevated opportunity across the company’s portfolio of brands.
For over 15 years, her consultancy, The Glore Group, has collaborated with entertainment companies and nonprofits on content curation, strategy, branding, and production, with clients including HBO, BET Networks, ARRAY, and the Equal Justice Initiative. Gabrielle serves as the Executive Director of the Leading Women Defined Foundation, established and Chaired by Debra Lee. She sits on the Board of MoCADA (Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts) and The Moth, a nonprofit dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling.
Nina Shaw is a founding partner in the entertainment law firm of Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein & Lezcano. Her practice is in the television, motion picture, and live stage area. A native New Yorker, Nina was born and raised in Harlem and The Bronx, educated in the New York City public school system and is a graduate of Barnard College and Columbia Law School. Among her clients are successful and award-winning actors, writers, producers and directors as well as entrepreneurs and entertainment executives. She began her legal career in the Entertainment Department of the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers.
Shaw is a Variety Dealmaker Impact honoree and has been named repeatedly to The Hollywood Reporter’s “Women in Entertainment Power 100” list. She is a recipient of the WIF Crystal Award, and has been named Entertainment Lawyer of the Yearby the Beverly Hills Bar Association. In 2016 Nina was profiled in the New York Times: “She’s the Hollywood Power Behind Those Seeking a Voice.” In 2019 Nina received Columbia Law School’s prestigious Medal for Excellence Award, the Athena Film Festival Athena Award and the NAACP LDF National Equal Justice Award. Most recently, she was featured in Harper’s Bazaar August 2020 issue among changemakers who are reshaping the way we think about art, identity and progress.
Shaw has a long-standing commitment to the education of children and is an advocate for the education of girls and women in particular. She is currently Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Independent School Alliance for Minority Affairs and one of the founding organizers of Time’s Up.
Ms. Goss Graves has served in numerous roles at the National Women’s Law Center for more than a decade and has a distinguished track record working across a broad set of issues central to women’s lives—including income security, health and reproductive rights, education access, and workplace justice. Ms. Goss Graves is among the co-founders of the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund, which connects those who experience sexual misconduct including assault, harassment, abuse and related retaliation in the workplace or in trying to advance their careers with legal and public relations assistance.
Prior to becoming President and CEO, she served as the Center’s Senior Vice President for Program, where she led the organization’s broad program agenda. Prior to that, as the Center’s Vice President for Education and Employment, she led the Center’s anti-discrimination initiatives, including work to promote equal pay, and address harassment and violence at work and in school, with a particular focus on outcomes for women and girls of color.
Graves is widely recognized for her effectiveness in the complex public policy arena at both the state and federal levels, regularly testifies before Congress and federal agencies, and is a frequent speaker at conferences and other public education forums. Ms. Goss Graves appears often in print and on air as a legal expert on issues core to women’s lives, including in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, AP, Chicago Tribune, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, CNN, MSNBC, PBS and NPR.
Award-winning director/writer/producer Gina Prince-Bythewood is one of the most versatile storytellers working in film and television. Known for her authentic character-driven work, Prince-Bythewood has directed and written such influential feature films as Love & Basketball, The Secret Life of Bees, and Beyond the Lights.
Other recent credits for Prince-Bythewood include the special event series, Shots Fired, which she and her husband Reggie Rock Bythewood served as series creators and executive producers. The 10-hour series for Fox examined the dangerous aftermath of two racially charged shootings in a small Southern town. In addition, Prince-Bythewood directed the pilot for Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger, which launched to strong reviews and viewers, starring breakout actors Olivia Holt and Aubrey Joseph as two teenagers with newly acquired superpowers who are mysteriously linked to one another. An advocate for equal representation in film, Prince-Bythewood funds a scholarship for African American students in the film program at UCLA, her alma mater.
Francesca is a writer and director who trained in performing arts at Goldsmiths, before forging skills in production and the wider industry by working with companies including Universal Pictures, New Regency and See-Saw Films. Her short, Undone, about an encounter between a young woman and an older married woman, screened at Aesthetica, Inside Out Toronto, NewFest and Pan-African Film Festival amongst others, and was picked up for distribution by Peccadillo Pictures. Previous work includes The Flood, an allegorical short drama about the climate and migrant crisis, and Lynch, a short about social phobia and paranoia commissioned by global ad agency DLV BBDO.
Francesca was mentored by director Gina Prince-Bythewood, with whom she worked extensively on Netflix’s film The Old Guard, starring Charlize Theron and Kiki Layne, and was a visiting writer on Season 3 of HBO show, Succession, as part of the HBO UK Directors Program. She is currently working on a sci-fi short about race division and is developing her debut feature.
Tina wrote and directed her most recent comedy, Little, starring Issa Rae, Regina Hall, and Marsais Martin for Universal Studios in 2019. Up next, Tina’s working on a project for Pixar Animation Studios and a new TV series for Warner Brothers. She currently resides on her farm in Virginia.
Born in Knoxville, Tennessee, Jane Barr is a first-generation American whose family immigrated from Ghana. A screenwriter and director, she earned her MFA in Film & Television from the Savannah College of Art & Design. Her work is focused on trying to better understand the world we live in while trying to promote positive and lasting change.
Jane’s screenplay, 12 Days, was a second-rounder for both the Academy Nicholl Fellowship 2017 and Sundance 2017. Jane was chosen as a fellow for the Hedgebrook Screenwriting Lab 2019 and the Athena Virtual Screenwriting Lab 2020. Her feature script, African Dogs Don’t Choke, was a finalist for the Shore Scripts Feature contest 2020, and her TV pilot, An American Tale, was the Grand Prize Winner of the BlueCat Screenwriting Contest 2020. She’s currently developing a project with Lionsgate.
Patrisse Cullors is a New York Times bestselling author, educator, artist, and abolitionist from Los Angeles, CA. Co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, Patrisse has been on the frontlines of abolitionist organizing for 20 years. Since she began the Black Lives Matter movement in 2013, it has expanded into a global foundation supporting Black-led movements in the US, UK, and Canada and has been nominated for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize. The significance of the Black Lives Matter movement has been recognized by The New York Times as the “largest movement in US history.” TIME 100 also named Patrisse as the 100 most influential people in 2020.
Patrisse has led multiple Los Angeles-based organizations, including Dignity and Power Now, Justice LA, and Reform LA Jails. Each of these organizations has won progressive ballot measures, fought against a $3.5 billion jail plan, and implemented the first-ever Civilian Oversight Commission of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. Patrisse is also the Faculty Director of Arizona’s Prescott College, a new Social and Environmental Arts Practice MFA program, which she developed nesting a curriculum focused on the intersection of art, social justice, and community organizing that is first of its kind in the nation.
Not stopping there, Patrisse is also a former staff writer on Freeform’s Good Trouble series as well as an actress on the show. She also co-produced the 12-part YouTube Originals series titled Resist which premiered on the platform November 18, 2020. In 2020, Patrisse signed an overall production deal with Warner Brothers, where she intends to continue to uplift Black stories, talent, and creators that will continue to transform the world of art and culture.
A true multi-hyphenate, Noni Limar has a decade-long resume of work in film/TV, theater, commercials and music. In 2017, after a decade of working in commercial production, she completed a two-year series development deal with Warner Bros. where she developed her TV pilot, Phony Bastards. It is now in development with Teri Weinberg’s Yellow Brick Road.
Limar’s short art film, Heartburn, was recently featured at Museum of Contemporary Art and SPARC in LA. Within the world of theater, she has directed and produced productions at Los Angeles Theater Center, Apollo Theater in NY, Highways Performance Space and the New York Hip Hop Theater Festival. As a writer, she has been invited to share work at The Lincoln Center in New York and the Market Theater in South Africa. The SABC Documentary, I AM WOMAN was made about her international work as a director and producer. Currently, she hosts The Provocateurs Podcast with Crooked Media and is a lead Creative with the Black Lives Matter Global Network.
Niecy Nash is a multi-talented Emmy®-winning producer and three-time-nominated actress. Her multifaceted career includes roles in HBO’s Getting On, which earned her two Emmy nominations, Netflix’s limited Ava DuVernay series When They See Us (which earned her a third Emmy nomination and an NAACP Image award), FOX’s Scream Queens, Showtime’s Masters of Sex and TV Land’s The Soul Man. Nash currently headlines TNT’s drama Claws. She has also expanded her repertoire to include directing.
The protean actress was the host and producer of the Style Network’s home makeover show, Clean House, which became the network’s #1 program. Her work earned her two Daytime Emmy® nominations, and the American Women in Radio & Television honored Nash with the 2007 Gracie Allen Award for Outstanding Program Host. In addition, she was seen regularly as a celebrity panelist on the top-rated entertainment news program The Insider on CBS.
Nash is well-known for her role as no-nonsense ‘Officer Raineesha Williams’ on the hilarious Comedy Central hit, Reno 911!, a half-hour unscripted spoof of Cops that aired for six seasons. The cult series now has a new iteration on Quibi. The show was so popular that it was also spun-off into a feature film, Reno 911: Miami, in 2007. Nash went on to star in her own FOX comedy series, Do Not Disturb, opposite Jerry O’Connell, in 2008.
Niecy has had featured roles in the films Selma, Guess Who, opposite Bernie Mac and Ashton Kutcher; Code Name: The Cleaner, opposite Cedric the Entertainer and Lucy Liu; Not Easily Broken, based on the best-selling book by Bishop T.D. Jakes; and the Walt Disney Pictures summer blockbuster release G-Force, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. Most recently, she starred opposite Courtney Vance in Netflix’s telefilm, Uncorked.
Nash’s television credits are another testament to her talent. Her style, humor and quick wit garnered her a stint as a correspondent on NBC’s The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. She is also well known for her recurring role on the Peabody Award-winning comedy series The Bernie Mac Show, portraying Bernie’s uproarious baby sister, “Benita.” Other recurring roles include TV’s Presidio Med, That’s Life, Popular, and City of Angels. Also included on her resume are guest-starring roles on such top-rated series as My Name Is Earl, Monk, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Girlfriends, NYPD Blue, That’s So Raven, One on One, Judging Amy and Reba.
Additionally, Nash is developing various television and film projects through her own production company, Chocolate Chick, Inc. In her rare spare time, she is devoted to church and participating in charitable functions in support of causes that are close to her heart, including the prevention and awareness of HIV/AIDS, breast cancer, school violence, and domestic abuse.. In July 2018, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce honored Nash with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to celebrate her career.
Bria Samoné Henderson is currently playing the role of ‘Dr. Jordan Allen’ in David Shore’s hit medical drama series The Good Doctor for ABC. Previously, she appeared as the radical feminist and “Ms. Magazine” editor, Margaret Sloan, in the FX for Hulu critically acclaimed limited series Mrs. America, opposite Cate Blanchett, Niecy Nash, Uzo Aduba, Margo Martindale, Rose Byrne, and Sarah Paulson. The limited series from Emmy-winning writer Dahvi Waller (Mad Men) and Oscar-nominated producer Stacey Sher, tells the story of the movement to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, and the unexpected backlash led by a conservative woman named Phyllis Schlafly. The series was named one of the best television shows of 2020 by the American Film Institute.
Henderson received her MFA in Acting from the University of Washington’s Professional Actor Training Program and her B.A. in Drama at Spelman College. Not only is she an actor, but also a director, writer, and spoken word artist. The work she creates is raw, grounded, political and explores the polylith of the black woman’s existence. Henderson is a vessel for the craft and strives for her work to be a mirror of the truth.