New York Women in Film & Television is thrilled to welcome new board members to our leadership team for the 2021-2022 season!
A 501(c)3 non-profit, NYWIFT is governed by an 19 member Board of Directors, elected by the membership in late Spring. This diverse, accomplished group of women are at the top of their game in TV, film, and digital media. They steer NYWIFT in advocating for equality, providing unique professional development opportunities, funding women filmmakers, and celebrating women’s achievements.
On NYWIFT’s Women Crush Wednesdays Podcast, Janine McGoldrick interviewed Okema T. Moore, one of our newest board members. Here’s a snippet of their conversation
Can you give us a quick background on your career and experience?
I’m a writer, producer, [and] director, who is also an actress. I started as an actress. I work across disciplines and platforms so I do documentary, narrative, and branded commercials. If it’s a good story, I’m here to tell it, whether that’s as a producer or director. Now, I am in class with Sundance Co//ab workshop working with their directing actors’ program. And I’m taking a class right now with Writing Pad to work on my new pilot.
Why did you decide to join NYWIFT?
I’ve been a NYWIFT member for seven years now or something like that, when I first joined I was psyched that I got in. I thought that it was really important that I started to commiserate in the community of creators. And the fact that there was this wonderful community of creators that were women was really attractive to me. I felt that I could learn from everybody. I’m so glad that I joined, because A NYWIFT talk with Annetta Marion, when she was the director of Oprah’s Master Class, is how I got my first network job in 2017.
So NYWIFT has been a launchpad for me in a huge way. And I just love that the organization is continuing to get a lot more diverse in its leadership and its forward-facing movements. So to see the women that represent NYWIFT on their board and even in their committees makes me know that the organization really understands that all women deserve to create, not just some women.
How did you decide that you wanted to be a board member? How did that happen?
My mentor and “big sister” Kuye Youngblood, who is a board member of NYWIFT. I have been working with Kuye, who is the head of development at BRIC TV in New York. I have been under Kuye’s watchful eye for years. In the last four or five years, I have had the pleasure of going from producer to showrunner on several of BRIC TV’S original programming shows. So earlier this year she suggested, in part because of my experience on the Board at Black TV & Film Collective, that I run for the NYWIFT Board.
I was just so happy to know that the board was open-minded enough to accept me how I am. I have worked very hard in my career to get where I am and to continue to progress and I am always looking to learn and grow but I’m also me. I am an “around the way girl,” as articulate as I may be in business time. I’m still very much into my African American vernacular and I think things are fun and funny, and I’m very straightforward. So the fact that I can be me and a board member is a beautiful thing to me, and I think that it’s an opportunity for other members of color.
Now that you are on the board, where do you want to see NYWIFT go?
There are so many places for NYWIFT to go because NYWIFT has such an expansive board. For me personally, what I feel I bring to the table is the opportunity to be a bridge. And I bring the opportunity to ensure that other voices are being heard in the room. It’s only diverse and inclusive but not equitable if you do not have people that look like everyone at the table of decisions. It is such a cornucopia of ethnicities and mixes. I also represent those of us that didn’t come from big film families, didn’t go to film school. I left Wall Street at 36 to be a PA and then hustled for the next 5 years.
I also represent those of us that didn’t come from this world but fell in love with it, and scrapped and scraped our way to get further along. And also just a love for women and seeing women love each other by being helpful and [providing] resources and safe spaces. I think I add another element of heart and safe space to what NYWIFT [already] is.
And what I take from it is the opportunity to learn more about the business, there are so many wonderfully talented, successful, high-level women on that board that I know I am going to be able to learn from and get to know. And be able to trickle that information down back into the spaces of women that don’t sit in that room, that may not be in the organization yet, and to entice them to come and know that they can be someplace that they can be accepted and loved on and assisted.
If you could snap your finger and tell any story that you could, what story would that be?
The story of The Black Moors of Scotland and how they were a kingdom and royalty how they were pushed out of that space.
Why is that story important to you?
Because growing up you heard people say we come from royalty and I only ever thought of Africa and never thought of the other places that we were royal and had social standing and equitable standing in a space.
My grandfather is Scottish-Bajan and I have an uncle who is a declared Moor. And hearing all of these different rumblings about the Moors and knowing that there are so many stories about us as Black people that don’t originate in the motherland, but still stand up to the same psyche that we have a right to be royal. And we are and we were and we can be again.
Listen to the full interview with Okema and our other three other new board members on the NYWIFT Women Crush Wednesdays podcast below:
Welcome to NYWIFT, Melisa Ramos! Melisa is a filmmaker and professor from Puerto Rico, bringing 14 years of post-production and motion graphics experience to New York. Her first production, Puerto Rican Voices, a docu-series about the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Following Puerto Rican Voices, Melisa continued to share Puerto Rican and Latin American stories. In 2020, she directed and produced From Performers to Spectators, a doc-series showcasing New York City performers during lockdown. She is currently in production on Hoop Warrior, her first feature film. Read all about Melisa’s journey as an editor and artist here!READ MORE
Welcome to NYWIFT, Rose Vincelli Gustine! Rose Vincelli Gustine is Director of Operations and on the faculty of the School of Visual Arts (SVA) MFA Social Documentary Film program. She is currently producing the feature documentary The Sum of Our Parts and was consulting producer for Busy Inside (PBS America Reframed, 2020). She directed the documentary short What We Discover Along the Way, which is looking ahead to 2024 festivals. Rose was a programmer for filmmakers’ support organization IFP (now called The Gotham) and for AFIDocs Festival. She lives, cooks, and walks in Brooklyn with her family and cats. Rose spoke to us about what it means to be a filmmaker advocate, her own creative practice, and what she loves about the art of documentary filmmaking.READ MORE
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On Monday, October 9, 2023, the Renowned Choir & National Nonprofit of Broadway Artists, whose mission is to support and strengthen communities in need through arts, education and outreach programming, hosted the “Hope in Harmony: Award Ceremony & Fundraiser Cocktail Party” at Sony Hall in New York City. Tammy Reese and LaKisa Renee share their exclusive interviews with Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell, and more!READ MORE
"One of the best red carpets I’ve ever covered as a journalist hands down to date is the iconic moment of covering The Walking Dead: Dead City world premiere during the 2023 Tribeca Festival," says NYWIFT member Tammy Reese! Our resident The Walking Dead superfan shares her favorite moments - and fun video cast interviews - from the zombie-filled festival premiere.READ MORE