New York Media Arts organizations have had a rich history of supporting, inspiring, and training diverse creative community members for decades. In our June 26, 2020 NYWIFT Talks, learn more how Black Public Media, Third World Newsreel, Manhattan Neighborhood Network, Ghetto Film School, and Brown Girls Doc Mafia have accomplished their missions.
These organizations provide key solutions and grassroots connections to Latinx, Black, Asian, and LGBTQIA+ content producers. What are the specific challenges they face during the COVID pandemic, financial crisis, and the Black Lives Matter Movement? These leaders can shine a light on a path forward.
Join us for this discussion with Iyabo Boyd, Leslie Fields-Cruz, JT Takagi, Shurize X. Richards, and Victoria Bert.
The conversation was moderated by NYWIFT Executive Director Cynthia Lopez.
Iyabo Boyd is the founder of Brown Girls Doc Mafia (BGDM), whose mission is to bolster the creative and professional success of women and non-binary people of color working in the documentary industry, and to challenge the often marginalizing norms of the documentary field. With over 3,800 members globally, BGDM convenes online and in person to provide a nourishing atmosphere where members and their projects can incubate and evolve in a safe place. Iyabo is also an award-winning writer, director, and producer who strives to tell stories from under-explored perspectives, and to reflect the dynamic humanity of women and people of color. Her latest short Me Time is a black feminist comedy about masturbation, which has played over 20 festivals nationwide and picked up nine awards including Best Comedy, Best Director, Best Performance, and Best Editing. Her first first feature film, Kayla & Eddie En Français is currently in development. For this project, she was a fellow in the Sundance Film Festival’s 2019 Talent Forum, the Sundance Film Institute’s 2018 Screenwriting Intensive, and was awarded a 2019 SFFILM Rainin Screenwriting Grant. As a producer, Iyabo was a Sundance Creative Producers Fellow and an Impact Partners Creative Producers Fellow in 2016 for the feature documentary For Ahkeem about a teenage black girl coming of age in St. Louis just after Ferguson, which premiered at the Berlin International and Tribeca Film Festivals. As a film industry professional, Iyabo has held positions at the Points North Institute, First Look Media’s Topic.com, Kickstarter, Good Pitch, Chicken & Egg Pictures, Tribeca Film Institute, and IFP. From 2015 to 2017, Iyabo founded and ran Feedback Loop, a consulting company for documentary filmmakers.
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.
Shurize X. Richards is the Industry Manager for Ghetto Film School NY, serving the greater GFS community of emerging diverse creative talent (18-34 years old) in NYC. She manages the workforce and talent placement program for GFS Fellows, Alums and Roster members by cultivating key industry partner relationships to access jobs, internships, business and creative mentorships, events and industry programming. Shurize is a strategic leader and program developer leveraging recent roles at IFP, Variety, Black Film Space, Young Audiences New York, Variety, AwesomenessTV/Dreamworks Animation and Kargo Mobile amongst others. Shurize earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Advertising and Marketing Communications with a minor in Film and Media from the Fashion Institute of Technology. Shurize is a Queens, New York native hailing from a West Indian heritage who is committed to curating new opportunities to help others excel in their passions and professions creatively and authentically.
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.
Cynthia López (moderator) is the Executive Director of New York Women in Film & Television, an award-winning media strategist, and former Commissioner of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, where she implemented strategies to support film and TV production throughout the five boroughs. López is the recipient of many coveted industry awards including: 11 News and Documentary Emmy Awards, a Special Emmy Award for Excellence in Documentary Filmmaking, three Peabody Awards, and two duPont-Columbia Awards. In addition, she received the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP) Award for Commitment to Corporate Diversity. Prior to working as Commissioner, López was Executive Vice President and co-Executive Producer of the award-winning PBS documentary series American Documentary | POV, and was involved in the organization’s strategic growth and creative development for 14 years. Her ability to forge strategic partnerships among corporate and public interest media has been a signature of her work. Notable partnerships include: New York Times, Reuters, Al-Jazeera Network, Discovery Communications, The Moth, Story Corps, Harpo Studios and ABC News, NIGHTLINE with Ted Koppel. López is a founding member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP), and is proud to have spent her career collaborating with independent filmmakers across all portions of the film and television industry. She served on the Board of Trustees for the Paley Center, NYC & Company, Museum of the Moving Image and the Tribeca Film Institute Latin America Fund Advisory Board. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Latino Public Broadcasting, Manhattan Neighborhood Network and Hunter College IMA Program.
Brown Girls Doc Mafia: https://www.browngirlsdocmafia.com/about
Third World Newsreel: https://www.twn.org/twnpages/about/responsive/staff.aspx
Ghetto Film School: https://www.ghettofilm.org
Manhattan Neighborhood Network: https://www.mnn.org
Black Public Media: https://blackpublicmedia.org
About NYWIFT Talks
NYWIFT Talks is a new 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.