Meet the New NYWIFT Board Member: Emelyn Stuart

By Katie Chambers

New York Women in Film & Television is thrilled to welcome new board members to our leadership team for the 2022-2023 season!

A 501(c)3 non-profit, NYWIFT is governed by a Board of Directors, a diverse, accomplished group of women are at the top of their game in TV, film, and media. They steer NYWIFT in advocating for equality, providing unique professional development opportunities, funding women filmmakers, and celebrating women’s achievements.

Powerhouse entrepreneur Emelyn Stuart, one of our newest NYWIFT Board Members, is the owner and founder of Stuart Cinema & Café in Brooklyn, which in addition to being a screening space will offer distribution deals to independent filmmakers and be a resource hub for artists. She was named Best Producer at LA Web Fest for her series 12 Steps to Recovery, and her feature Life Is Too Short premiered to sold out audiences in New York during its debut screening and in 2017 it was awarded Best Feature Film domestically and internationally at various film festivals.


How did you first get involved with NYWIFT?

In 2009, a NYWIFT member invited me to a screening that included the producers of the film. I was fascinated by all the information I was able to learn from attending this screening. I was also impressed by the number of “women in cinema” I met that night. The next day, I sent an email inquiring about membership. The rest is history!


Why do you love NYWIFT?

NYWIFT provides an “industry sisterhood” like no other organization. It educates, unites, and empowers women in the entertainment industry. 



Tell us about what you do outside of the organization.

Outside of NYWIFT, I’m the first Black Latina to own an independent movie theater in NY. I’m also in the process of building a multiplex theater in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. I’m busy preparing for our upcoming Ocktober Film Festival that I founded 10 years ago. However, producing is my first love so I’m in post-production with my upcoming feature film, The King’s Ransom



What is your fondest memory of working in the entertainment industry?

I own a film festival that supports, educates, and empowers filmmakers. Every year, I make it a point to meet every filmmaker who screens a film at my Ocktober Film Festival. It is the happiest time of the year for me because I’m surrounded by filmmakers.


The theater at Stuart Cinema & Cafe


What did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a social worker. I wanted to help underrepresented people find help and resources. In many ways, I am a social worker — I get to help filmmakers find the resources they need to advance their careers.


Emelyn Stuart in her theater


Inequality in film, television and digital media has long been a problem, and righting that imbalance has always been a big part of NYWIFT’s mission. What are your thoughts on the challenges we face? And what are some possible solutions you find effective?

I was told I was crazy for self-funding my own movie theater (without any prior experience). I knew that if I wanted things to change and I wanted someone like myself to be in the forefront of theatrical distribution, I needed to own a piece of pie. I bet all of my money on me and my vision.

Ownership is one way of gaining access and power. We need to own the rooms where we work. I am not interested in being “included.” Many people who are included don’t have the voice or power needed to affect change. Start small and use whatever you have, trust your vision to lead you where you need to be. 


Stuart Cinema & Cafe


What’s the best movie or series you’ve seen recently?

Some of my favorite movies include Encanto, West Side Story, and In the Heights. These movies reminded me of my Latin culture and all that is possible for us.  


What did you do this Summer?

This Summer, I secured a location for my new multiplex and worked on my professional relationships. 


Connect with Emelyn Stuart on LinkedIn, Facebook, and on Instagram at @emelynstuart.

Learn more about the 2022-2023 NYWIFT Board of Directors here.


Katie Chambers

Katie Chambers Katie Chambers is the Senior Director of Community & Public Relations at New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT). She also serves as the Communications Chair of the New Jersey State Federation of Women's Clubs and is a freelance writer, copyeditor, and digital marketing strategist. Follow her @KatieGChambers.

View all posts by Katie Chambers

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