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How To Get Your Children Into Film and Television

Attention parents: if you think your Pride-and-Joy may be the 21st century’s answer to Shirley Temple, this informative panel discussion is for you! NYWIFT has assembled a group of entertainment industry experts who will demystify the process of getting your child into show business. 


Among the subjects they’ll tackle:


  - How do you gain “legitimate” access to the industry?
- Do you need to pay an agent or casting director? Create a portfolio?
- Can entertainment unions be of help? 
- What exactly is the proper role for a parent or guardian?
- How do you detect a scam?
And more…

This program is for adults only.  No one under 18 years of age will be admitted. 



Francesca Francois-Grimaldi
is managing partner and agent at Plaza 7 Talent Agency, a full-service entertainment agency. Her clients include producers, directors, actors and voice talent. She is the founding member of the Crystal Ship, a support structure created for East Coast producers, directors and writers, partnering them with established counterparts, helping them cultivate skills needed for show runner duties at cable and network levels. She began her career in the mail room at ICM in New York, before moving to its Motion Pictures Talent Department, where she worked for five years. She has worked with the Reuters Editorial News team, and was previously an agent at the Fifi Oscard Agency in New York.



Victoria Pannell
, a fourteen-year-old model, actress and activist from Harlem, NY has built an impressive resume that includes TV, film, commercials, videos, theater and most importantly, youth activism. By the age of 10, she was speaking publicly on topics ranging from mental health services for children to the devastating effects on the family structure that result from absentee fathers. Victoria has become nationally known for her work in fighting child sex trafficking.  Her solo acting appearance on a PSA ad on child trafficking received a Pollie Award that is voted on and presented by the American Association of Political Consultants. The ad was successfully used in a petition hosted by Pannell to put pressure on Village Voice Media to shut down its lucrative online sexual advertising page, backpage.com. Appearances in film and also on Sesame Street led to Pannell becoming a member of the SAG and Aftra Unions at the ages of four and five.  Impressed by her hard work and dedication to the unions ever since, the SAG/Aftra union board recently appointed her to a national seat on the Young Performers Committee, and she is one of the youngest union members to ever hold that position

Helen Proimos
is a SAG-AFTRA actress/singer, acting coach, producer, and "momager". She was Anne Heche’s horseback riding stunt double on the soap, Another World.  Proimos just completed a run in Funny Girl as Mrs. Strakosh and will soon be filming the role of Selma O'Malley in a TV series pilot for The Familia. Proimos' son, actor Brandon Hannan, played Vito Spatafore, Jr. on The Sopranos and was a Primetime Emmy Award and Screen Actors Guild Award contender for that role at the age of 13.  Both mother and son have appeared in a number of award-winning independent films, commercials and stage plays. Proimos also appeared in Taught to Hate (Dir: James G. Sotomayor),  an Academy Award qualifying short film and winner of the IMAGEN Award. In the film, Proimos portrays a mother trying to counteract the prejudice her son (Hannan) is learning from the world around him. Taught to Hate screened as part of the NYWIFT Member Screening Series and is shown in schools and churches to combat hate crimes.


Jae Je Simmons
is the New York Local Executive Director of SAG-AFTRA, the first woman and African-American to serve in that position. In that capacity, she represents the interests of New York SAG-AFTRA members, as guided by the elected leadership of the New York Board of Directors.  Prior to being promoted to the position of Executive Director in 2002, she served as the Executive Administrator of SAG’s Affirmative Action and Diversity Department. She is currently the Co-Chair of the New York Production Alliance (NYPA), and she is the first African-American, and first woman, to hold the job. Simmons has held positions as Vice President and Director of Client Services for the venerable public relations powerhouse Terrie Williams Agency, served as Diversity Consultant for the Texaco Corporation, and worked as Public Relations Manager for Focus Communications. 

LeVera Sutton (Moderator) has had a career in media for over thirty years.  During her time at KPFA Radio, she produced, auditioned, and casted for children’s organizations and PSAs. At KTVU Channel 2 in Los Angeles, she worked under Rosy Chu as assistant producer and assistant field producer.  Moving to New York, Sutton built a successful career and developed a strong industry network through her freelance work in independent film and local New York theater.  A member of NYWIFT’s Programming Committee, she produces events that focus on career goal achievement - including the recent NYWIFT TV & Film Pitchfest.  As a script doctor, Sutton presently writes with the Harlem Arts Alliance Writer’s Circle. 

Discussion will also include a children's agent from a major talent agency.


Produced by LeVera Sutton

Join the conversation on Twitter: #nywift | @nywift

NYWIFT programs, screenings and events are supported, in part, by grants from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts