By Ozzi Ramirez
Welcome to NYWIFT, Lisa St. Hill! Born in Brooklyn, Lisa St. Hill is a multi-talented creator with a strong appreciation for her Barbados heritage. A fashion enthusiast at heart, she has worked as an editorial contributor and designed a recovery belly band for new mothers that caught the attention of some celebrity moms. Furthermore, Lisa also produced Phenomenal Women, which highlights various accomplished women who have achieved success within the realm of film and television.
Some of her aspirations include the development of youth-centered projects such as the publication of Beautiful Brown Girl, an inspiring children’s book that she is currently illustrating and writing, and a limited series about her relative, the legendary Shirley Chisholm.
Lisa resides in Connecticut with her family and has contributed her expertise on current political affairs and as a certified yoga instructor to the Greenwich Sentinel. She is also on the cusp of graduating from the New School for Social Research of New York, where she has received Dean’s List honors and is concentrating on Media and Screenwriting.
Lisa spoke to us about her inspirations, the advice from Idris Elba that drives her day-to-day, and how she defines a phenomenal woman.
Tell us about yourself. Give us your elevator pitch!
I’m a latchkey kid of the 1980s, born in Brooklyn and from a competitive loving family that came from sunny Barbados. My mom worked the 4 to 12 shifts, so television was my sitter, and I dreamed of becoming a fashion designer or producer in Hollywood.
Alfred Hitchcock, Eddie Murphy, Donna Karan, and Whoopi Goldberg were my idols.
Alien is my favorite movie of all time.
You worked as a producer and host on Phenomenal Woman, which features Iman Bowie and other remarkable women who have thrived in the film and television industry. Can you tell us more about this project? What is your definition of a phenomenal woman?
I wanted to create a project where women could tell stories of how they broke into their industries, whether it was predicated on a goal, and what helped them define their position, journey, and influence. A phenomenal woman is conscious of her worth, unafraid to wear her armor with pride, and supports others.
Your affinity for fashion design led to your creation of a recovery belly band that was met with success in sales and attracted the attention of some celebrity moms. How did this product come to fruition? What is the best compliment you’ve received about the belly band?
When I was in 5th grade, my teacher Mrs. Isseks told me I was destined to become a fashion designer because I had the name for it and was the artist that drew all the projects! She always believed in me, so when I had my first child, I became a certified yoga vinyasa instructor, partnered with a local GYN, and created workshops with local companies to offer women healing services after having a baby. My first client was R&B/Pop singer Christina Milian. She and her mother were very supportive.
You are a relative of the late and great Shirley Chisholm, who among other major accomplishments, became the first African American woman elected to the United States Congress.
Describe your connection, and what is one significant life lesson or philosophy that she instilled in you?
My mother, who passed away recently, mentioned our family connection. While tracing our history, she discovered that Shirley is related to us on my father’s side, the St. Hill’s.
Barbados is filled with many of us, and this sparked my interest to tell Shirley’s story from the perspective of our homeland and its influence. Barbados is a country with pride, beauty, hope, and evolution, and I feel this describes Shirley’s embodiment and legacy.
What is the best and worst advice that you’ve received?
The best advice was from my mom: “Don’t make life so hard for yourself.”
The worst: “You’re too old for that!”
As women, we consistently receive messages that try to limit our potential. Success in anything has no age limit.
What brings you to NYWIFT?
I have a dream board above my computer, and “Join NYWIFT 2023” is posted there.
I follow Idris Elba on Twitter, and he has an inspiring tagline he uses often: “Keep the Pace!” So, Idris. I’m borrowing it, brother!
Did the pandemic influence your professional life? If so, how?
Well, my son worked a bit in commercials, and I started my degree program, and then everything went into Zoom. All at once, I became a student, manager, driver, and chef.
I did my best to keep the pace despite a few meltdowns; my son will attest that his mom is terrible at math! But I became more creative and started my children’s book during the shutdown, writing an article for my local paper supporting the BLM movement.
Where do you see yourself in the next several years? Do you have upcoming projects?
I see myself producing fun and exciting projects for kids and teens in publishing, TV, and film.
Right now, I’m writing and illustrating a children’s book for girls on loving their uniqueness.
My mom is not here to see me graduate next year, which is my current great accomplishment, but I know she is still with me as she encourages me with that Bajan pride!
Connect with Lisa St. Hill on LinkedIn.
Welcome to NYWIFT, Candece Tarpley! Candece Tarpley, of Sissipahaw/Tuscarora/Tsalagi descent, is a World Champion Powwow dancer, an actress and a poet-storyteller-playwright who has been writing since childhood. Holding her heritage close, she's been a featured performer nationwide, weaving her crafts with the patrons of the Public Library of Boulder Colorado; Middlebury College in Vermont; Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts; the Pequot Museum in Connecticut; the Brooklyn Museum and the Museum of Natural History in New York City, as well as other creative venues. Candece spoke to us about how her Indigenous heritage influences her work, the response to her television series, and her next major projects.READ MORE
New York based filmmaker Melissa Morales is a first-generation Puerto Rican Latina alum from CUNY Brooklyn College with a BA in Film Production, holding a magna cum laude GPA. Melissa is an aspiring writer, director, producer and production designer, and multimedia content creator. She has written, directed, & produced four short films in 2022, with her thesis "Bigger" winning a NYWIFT Emerging Female Filmmaker Award at Brookly College and a NYIFA Best Student Director Award both in 2023! Melissa tells us about receiving the NYWIFT Emerging Female Filmmaker Award, her role as a writer, director, and producer, and more!READ MORE
Introducing NYWIFT Member Sarah Eagle Heart! Sarah is a filmmaker and social justice storyteller from the Oglala Lakota tribe on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Sarah shares her creative journey from writing a book with her twin sister about reflections of identity, to working with musical icon John Legend, to her latest feature film.READ MORE
Let’s give a warm welcome to Alisa Lomax! Based in Detroit, Alisa is an award-winning producer and director who is interested in providing a platform for characters who are in the midst of navigating hardships. Some of her most celebrated projects include Maya and Her Lover, Layla’s Girl, and the documentary When I Need to Smile, which centers on philanthropist and jazz label founder Gretchen Carhartt Valade. Alisa was one of just 13 Detroit writers to be selected as part of the Sundance Screenwriters Lab. Find out more about Alisa as we discuss her amazing 20+ year career trajectory, which includes her transition from working in corporate jobs to more artistic endeavors, and her current role in a digital arts program that aims to introduce the art of filmmaking to kids!READ MORE