NYWIFT Blog

Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Willette Murphy Klausner

If you’ve seen a great Broadway show recently, chances are Willette Murphy Klausner had something to do with it. As the founder and owner of WMK Productions in Los Angeles she has produced or co-produced dozens of award-winning theatrical and film projects, including MJ the Musical, Hadestown, Stereophonic, The Wiz. Porgy and Bess, Three Mo’ Tenors, Caroline or Change and Cabaret, just to name a few. For film, she’s co-producing the documentary Liza, which just premiered at the Tribeca Festival. Previous films include Radium Girls and Wakefield with several film and TV projects in development. In 2022 she was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Drama League. She has served on the Boards of Directors of the Los Angeles Music Center and the Women in Film Foundation, is a member of the League of Professional Theatre Women, the National Women’s Forum, and NYWIFT. She is currently on the board of Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts.

READ MORE

NYWIFT @ Tribeca: In Conversation with Dawn Porter

Dawn Porter, a distinguished member of NYWIFT, continues to make waves in the film industry with her dynamic storytelling and impactful documentaries. Known for her acclaimed works such as Gideon’s Army, Trapped, The Way I See It, and John Lewis: Good Trouble, Porter has captivated audiences across HBO, Netflix, CNN, PBS, and more. Her latest documentary, The Lady Bird Diaries, won the Lone Star Prize at the 2023 SXSW Film Festival and is now streaming on Hulu. This year, Dawn takes the 2024 Tribeca Festival by storm as an Executive Producer of Rebel Nun, the director of Luther: Never Too Much, and the director of Power of the Dream. Tammy Reese checks in with her as the festival gets under way.

READ MORE

Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Perla de Leon

Let’s give a warm welcome to renowned photographer and NYC native, Perla de Leon! Having received an MFA in Photography from Brooklyn College and attended Columbia University’s Graduate Film Director’s Program, Perla’s work has been displayed at museum exhibitions worldwide, from Mexico City to Puerto Rico and Cuba to Barcelona. Some of her most acclaimed projects include the photo series South Bronx Spirit (1970s – 1980s), The Afro-Descendant Project – Puerto Rico (2017), and Decade of Fire (2018). Over the years, Perla has shared her passion for photography and video production while teaching her craft to high school and college students. Learn more about Perla’s illustrious career as we discuss the genesis of South Bronx Spirit (featured as part of the permanent collection at the Smithsonian America Art Museum in Washington D.C.) and the social injustices that attracted her to document the urban landscape of the Bronx during the late seventies. Plus, read about Perla’s remarkable connection to a legendary photographer whose art was celebrated alongside Perla’s photographs at NYC's iconic Gracie Mansion!

READ MORE

Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Lynn Dow

Welcome to NYWIFT, Lynn Dow! From cherished advice on the joy of filmmaking to the heartwarming tale of transitioning from Wall Street to the silver screen, Lynn offers a glimpse into her journey which has been fueled by passion and family support. Her Harlem cultural tapestry weaves its way into her captivating narratives, while insights from her time at Columbia University offer a unique approach to storytelling. Explore Lynn's intersection of finance and filmmaking through the lens of resilience and strategic thinking, as she shares her favorite projects and inspirations. Delve into her creative process, where personal experiences meet universal themes, and catch a glimpse of her debut feature, Bull Street, a story of loss, reflection, and the pursuit of generational wealth.

READ MORE

Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Taffy Lashley

Let’s give a warm welcome to our new NYWIFT member, Taffy Lashley! Taffy is of Afro-Caribbean roots and her love for telling underrepresented stories led her down the path of becoming an editor. She’s worked on interviews highlighting independent creators & their mental health, a documentary with the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, as well as with A+E networks and Reel Works. She’s grateful to network with inspiring women in the media industry. Her involvement with NYWIFT began as an intern and she’s excited to now continue her journey with NYWIFT as an official member!

READ MORE

Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Mariluz Guerra

Let’s give a warm NYWIFT welcome to Mariluz Guerra! Originally from Colombia, she is a proud indigenous Kankuaman filmmaker with experience directing, scriptwriting, producing, and editing. Her commitment to helping others heal through art is channeled in her films Body Stories: Suraj & Julieta and Body Stories: Together. Learn more about Mariluz as we discuss how her cultural roots are an ongoing influence on her projects, the innovative filmic style of Body Stories: Together, and the significant role that smartphones contributed towards helping her create an original and cost-efficient film!

READ MORE

The 7th Annual MACRO Lodge at Sundance Film Festival Announces Its 2024 Schedule of Events

The MACRO Lodge at Sundance Film Festival (www.StayMACRO.com), hosted by MACRO Founder & CEO Charles D. King (Mudbound, Judas and the Black Messiah) and his wife Stacey Walker King, Chief Brand Officer of the company, returns to the Sundance Film Festival for its seventh annual showcase of panels and parties at the iconic film festival to champion inclusion and people of color at its prime location at 136 Heber Avenue in Park City, UT with three days of programming.

READ MORE

Meet the New NYWIFT Member: China L. Colston

Welcome to NYWIFT, China L. Colston! China is a SAG-AFTRA actress and award-winning filmmaker. As an actress, she has embodied emotional women, from the guilt-ridden mother in Strings Attached to the dealer in Sweet Thang. China’s unwavering dedication as the star, writer, director, and producer of Dark Seed led the film to acclaim from the Validate Yourself Film Festival, African American Arts Alliance of Chicago, and the Dramatist’s Guild Success In The Arts Award aka SITA. She is the recipient of a 2021 NYFA grant for her script To Cook or Not to Cook, which follows a chef in Harlem repairing his relationship with his family through food. She is the recipient of a 2021 NYFA grant for her script To Cook or Not to Cook, which follows a chef in Harlem repairing his relationship with his family through food. China brings us through her incredible journey as a creator here!

READ MORE

NYWIFT Muse Award Honoree Patina Miller Stars In “Power Book III: Raising Kanan” Season 3

On December 1, 2023, Season 3 of STARZ Power Book III: Raising Kanan premiered starring past NYWIFT Muse Award Honoree Patina Miller. This season of Raising Kanan continues to tell the origin story of fan-favorite character Kanan Stark (MeKai Curtis), originally played by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson in the flagship series, delving further into his evolution from the devoted son of Raquel “Raq” Thomas (Patina Miller) into the eventual ferocious, amoral and pragmatic personality fans know from Power.

READ MORE

Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Candece Tarpley

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

Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Melissa Morales

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

Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Sarah Eagle Heart

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

Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Alisa Lomax

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

Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Tanis Parenteau

Welcome to NYWIFT, Tanis Parenteau! Tanis Parenteau is Métis/Cree from the Métis Nation of Alberta. She is an actor, producer, and casting director. Her work focuses on uplifting Native voices telling contemporary and futuristic Native stories. As an actor, she has appeared on Billions, House of Cards, Designated Survivor, FBI: Most Wanted, Gossip Girl, and Tribal, and she has performed at The Public Theater, Signature Theater, 59E59, and Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Tanis has produced eight short films, has a short form digital series in post-production, and is developing multiple Native-led features and series. She is an associate casting director at tbd casting co in NYC. Her latest project, the short film Glenburn 12 WP, is fiscally sponsored by NYWIFT.  Tanis spoke to us about her dedication to uplifting Native voices, how working in casting has influenced her performing, and the best advice she’s ever received.

READ MORE

NYWIFT Member Spotlight: Toni R. Israel

Meet NYWIFT Member Toni R. Isreal. Toni is the CEO and Founder of REALEMN Productions LLC, Broadway’s leading multicultural marketing and PR team, run by Black women. In addition to being a proud member of New York Women in Film & Television, she is a co-founding member of The Industry Standard Group. Previously, Toni was the Managing Director of Walker International Communications Group (WICG) where she led a team providing all aspects of marketing consultation to arts organizations. A proud member of CTI — Commercial Theater Institute, Toni was instrumental in multiple projects including 2018 Tony Award-Winning Once on This Island, Disney’s Aladdin and The Lion King, A Raisin in The Sun, A Trip To Bountiful, A Streetcar Named Desire, Baby It’s You, and Stick Fly. Toni R. Isreal is an awardee of the Central New Jersey Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women for Excellence in Economic Empowerment and advocates promoting the arts and entertainment to multicultural communities.

READ MORE

NYWIFT Member Spotlight: Yolanda Gibson

Meet NYWIFT Member Yolanda Gibson! Yolanda Gibson is an online entertainment writer and documentarian originally from Detroit, Michigan. She has a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Political Science from Michigan State and Illinois State University respectively. She began writing for online entertainment publications in 2010 in Atlanta, GA. Through writing she has been given the opportunity to conduct red carpet interviews for some of the biggest events and names in the industry such as the Tribeca Film Festival, BET Hip Hop Awards and the Soul Train Music Awards. Gibson has been a member of NYWIFT since 2019. She attended our NYWIFT Night Out networking mixer with the Telly Awards at Neuehouse Madison Square in March 2023, where Telly Awards reps encouraged her to submit her projects for consideration. This Summer, she won a 2023 Bronze Telly Award in the Online Documentary Long Form (over 40 minutes) category for her documentary Wisdom from the Brooklyn Bridge, which follows her Covid-19 weight loss journey as she walks through political and social protests in New York City. Yolanda spoke to us about her documentary, the award, and her future projects.

READ MORE

Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Myra Velasquez

Let’s give a warm NYWIFT welcome to new member Myra Velasquez! Myra Velasquez is an indie filmmaker and playwright whose films have been screened across the country and abroad. Some of her awards include the Lawrence Kasdan Narrative Film Award, the Grand Prize Chicks with Flicks, the BIFF Golden Honu Audience Choice for Best Short, the HIFF Gold Kahuna, and the BIFF Family Favorites. She has also been a finalist for the Sundance Lab, the BlueCat Feature Screenplay Award, the Eugene O’Neill Playwrights Conference, the Big Apple Screenplay Competition, and a Cinequest Short Screenplay semi-finalist, among other notable mentions. Myra spoke to us about her latest audio drama, the best (and worst) advice she’s received, and what she hopes audiences will take away from her work.

READ MORE

Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Lisa St. Hill

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 spoke to us about her inspirations, the advice from Idris Elba that drives her day-to-day, and how she defines a phenomenal woman.

READ MORE