NYWIFT Talks: ‘Making a Way out of No Way’: The Importance of Amplifying BIPOC and Black Women Voices with Visionary New York Media Arts Organizations


Welcome to NYWIFT Talks, a weekly series to bring updated news and vital information about the impact of COVID-19 on the media and entertainment industry. Industry professionals will be in conversation discussing what you need to know about theatrical releases, digital advances, virtual tools, festival opportunities, production updates and more. 

NYWIFT Talks are free for all to attend.

NYWIFT celebrates Black History Month by honoring the accomplishments and contributions of Black and BIPOC filmmakers.

In this week’s NYWIFT Talks, we return with part 2 of our conversation with NY Media Arts Organization that represent diverse artists. Learn how Black Public MediaThird World NewsreelManhattan Neighborhood Network, Creatively Speaking, and Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival & Lecture Series have continued to push their mission to amplify Black and BIPOC voices who have been battling against marginalization outside the mainstream. 

Join us for this discussion with Carolyn A. Butts, Leslie Fields-Cruz, JT Takagi, Michelle Materre, and Victoria Bert

Date: Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Time: 4 PM EST

Moderator TBA 

Register Here



Carolyn A. Butts is the publisher/founder of African Voices, a leading arts magazine devoted to publishing fine art and literature by artists of color. Carolyn is also the founder of the Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival & Lecture Series the first Academy Qualifying Film Festival for Shorts devoted to women filmmakers. Reel Sisters provides opportunities for women of color in the film industry. Carolyn was recently featured in Black Enterprise for her business acumen and spotlighting the importance of hiring women behind the camera in the film industry. A trailblazer, Carolyn has increased the visibility of Black and Latino artists in literature, film and art. The magazine continues to be an outlet for emerging artists to publish fiction, poetry and visual art. African Voices has published more than 4,270 writers and artists since its inception in 1992. A trailblazer, Carolyn has increased the visibility of Black and Latino artists in literature, film and art. The magazine continues to be an outlet for emerging artists to publish fiction, poetry and visual art. African Voices has published more than 4,270 writers and artists since its inception in 1992.

Leslie Fields-Cruz, Executive Director of Black Public Media (BPM), started at BPM, then known as the National Black Programming Consortium, in 2001 managing grant making activities that supported the production and development of documentary programs for PBS. She was promoted to director of programming in 2005 and oversaw the distribution of funded programs to public television. Frustrated with the lack of content that spoke to the diversity of experiences within the African diaspora, Leslie curated the first season of BPM’s award-winning series AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange. Now in its 11th season AfroPoP is still the only national public television series focused solely on stories about the global Black experience. In the fall of 2014, Leslie became BPM’s third executive director. Though she keeps the pulse on the development of program content and its distribution across public media platforms, she is focused on growing BPM’s resources to enable it to support more stories about the Black experience. Leslie serves on the board of directors for NYWIFT and New Era Creative Space (NECS), a local community arts center in Peekskill, NY.

JT Takagi is the Executive Director for Third World Newsreel. Takagi is an award-winning independent film maker and sound recordist. Her films are primarily on Asian/Asian-American and immigrant issues and include Bittersweet Survival, The #7 Train, The Women Outside and North Korea: Beyond The DMZ, which all aired on PBS. As a sound engineer, she has recorded for numerous public television and theatrical documentaries with Emmy and Cinema Audio Society nominations including the 2018 Oscar nominated and Emmy winning Strong Island by Yance Ford, Black Panthers: Vanguard Of The Revolution and Tell Them We Are Rising by Stanley Nelson, and others. She also manages Third World Newsreel, a non-profit alternative media center, and serves on the boards of both community and national organizations working on peace and social justice.

As an Associate Professor of Media Studies at The New School, Ms. Michelle Materre is also currently the Director of the Media Management Graduate Program. Materre’s professional background spans decades as film producer, writer, arts administrator, distribution/marketing specialist, programmer, consultant, and Caribbean film scholar. In 1992, Materre co-founded KJM3 Entertainment Group which directly managed the distribution of films by filmmakers of African descent including Daughters of the Dust, by Julie Dash, and L’Homme Sur Les Quais by Raoul Peck. The critically acclaimed film series she curates is Creatively Speaking, now in its 25th year. An Assoc. Professor at The New School, Ms. Materre is also an exceptional media professional with an accomplished career.

Born and raised in New York, Victoria Bert has worked in TV production since graduating from St. John’s University in 1990 with a BA in Communications. A creative and skilled television producer, director, and writer,  Bert has produced national news, live TV, political talk shows, political debates, award shows, movie premieres, documentaries, non-scripted reality TV, reenactments, and digital media. Bert has been a director, producer, and writer for CBS; The Food Network; King World; Comedy Central; Paramount Television; 20 Century Fox; BBC Productions; E!; VH1; and the Style Network. She worked as a showrunner and an executive producer. Currently Bert creates political and public affairs content for MNN Productions on the Manhattan Neighborhood Network. In this role, she creates and produces original programming on national, NY State, and  New York City elections; as well as covering key issues facing Manhattan residents. She is a member of the Producers Guild of America, NYWIFT, and the National Association of Black Journalists. She is also on the board of the Neighborhood Coalition for Shelter.

Carol Jenkins is the President and CEO of the ERA Coalition and the Fund for Women’s Equality, sister organizations dedicated to the adoption of the Equal Rights Amendment. She is also founding president of The Women’s Media Center, and former chair and current board member of Amref Health Africa USA. As a pioneering African American television reporter, Jenkins was an anchor and correspondent for WNBC TV in New York for nearly 25 years. Ms. Jenkins is also an author, the three-time NY Emmy-nominated host of Black America on CUNY TV, the executive producer, writer and documentary correspondent of an award-winning film, a podcast host, and co-anchor of CUNY TV’s live election night coverage.

Produced by NYWIFT Member Cathleen Campbell

February 24 @ 4:00pm
4:00 pm — 5:00 pm (1h)

This program will take place virtually as a webinar via Zoom. Please register in advance, and all registrants will receive a link to attend the webinar the day of the event.

We encourage you to download Zoom in advance.

Free event.



Join the conversation on social media:
#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 Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.