Women In Film Launches Inaugural Fellowship Program (Exclusive)

As the organization celebrates its 50th anniversary, WIF also unveiled a new emerging careers initiative

WIF celebrates its 50th anniversary (WIF)

Women in Film (WIF) has unveiled its inaugural fellowship program, TheWrap can reveal exclusively.

This year’s fellowship program, which launched as the organization celebrates its 50th anniversary, recognizes 87 directors, writers, cinematographers, creative or indie producers, line producers, executives, reps, artisans and below-the-line crew members.

Open to women, nonbinary, and trans people across entertainment, the program will bring together the fellows for a year of mentorship from the WIF team, including guest speakers and master classes, networking, field trips and other individualized support.

With mentors from both the business and craft sides of the industry, each fellow will participate in six mentoring sessions with their cohort and mentor team, and will meet with Melissa Verdugo, a former talent manager and current WIF senior manager of career programs, to discuss an individualized plan based on each fellows’ needs.

“The Fellowships offer participants a culmination of the best parts of our historic programs,” senior director of programs Maikiko James said in a statement. “We’ve learned that we need to invest time and intentionality when it comes to helping people’s careers, and that we need to reach widely and comprehensively across the field in order to transform the industry. The inclusion of crew, artisan, physical production, and executive Fellows and Mentors is critical to addressing some of the most extreme gender disparity in Hollywood.”

This year’s fellows include recipients of the 2023 WIF x Black List Episodic Lab and Feature Residency, which is supported by the Golden Globes Foundation and ShivHans Pictures, and Netflix supports the directing and cinematography fellowships.

Alongside the WIF fellowship program, the organization also launched an emerging careers program to support newer entrants to Hollywood, especially communities historically underrepresented in in the industry. The program, which was made possible due to Johnnie Walker’s support, is set to provide participants with education and social events to aid those aiming to break into the industry.

“Johnnie Walker is honored to be a part of WIF’s mission in creating more opportunities for women in the entertainment industry as they mark their 50 th anniversary,” Johnnie Walker and Buchanan’s at Diageo North America VP Josh Dean said. “Through our partnership and support of the inaugural WIF Emerging Program, we are taking significant strides towards progress and an equitable future, and look forward to witnessing the transformative impact this program will bring to the careers of women and the entertainment landscape.”

Applications for the 2024 WIF Fellowship Program and for the WIF x Black List Episodic Lab are now open.

See the full list of fellows and mentors below:

Writing Fellows – Feature Residency

  • Audrey Ellis Fox
  • Cat Rinehart
  • Kimba Henderson 
  • Robin Cloud 
  • Suhashini Krishnan 
  • Tamar Feinkind 

Writing Fellows – Episodic Lab

  • Bev Chukwu 
  • Deanna Esposito 
  • Eudie Pak 
  • Helen RY Sun & Laura Malatos 
  • Katherine Ruppe 
  • Lorin Williams 
  • Thea Rodgers 

Directing Fellows

  • Alejandra Lopez
  • Auden Bui
  • Carly Usdin
  • Erin Lau
  • Gabby Revilla Lugo
  • Halima Lucas
  • Kameishia Wooten
  • Kat Mills Martin
  • Michelle Steffes
  • Myra Aquino
  • Tess Paras
  • Tijuana Ricks

Cinematography Fellows

  • Andrea Mereles
  • Emilia Mendieta
  • Jo Jo Lam
  • LaDawn Manuel
  • Michelle Clementine
  • Nichole Ruiz
  • Pip White
  • Sarah Whelden

Creative Fiction Producer Fellows

  • Bettina Fisher
  • Cecilia Salguero
  • Ebony Elaine Hardin
  • Jera Wang
  • Josie Andrews
  • Kellie Brooke Malone
  • Levi Alexander
  • Lita Lopez
  • Maisha Dyson
  • Noor Lawson
  • Shelby Malone

Documentary Producer Fellows

  • Elizabeth Ai
  • Jeanette Charles
  • Rajal Pitroda
  • Shubhangi Shekhar

Physical Producer Fellows

  • Brittny Chapman
  • Genesis Socorro
  • Kam Nurock
  • Louise Barretto
  • Yoona Wang

Business Executive Fellows

  • Aanchal Khaneja
  • Adriana Martínez Barrón
  • Alexandra Kundrat
  • Anja Block
  • Annie Huang
  • Ashley Whitaker
  • Catalina Acebal-Acevedo
  • Clara Yoon
  • Erica Kolsrud
  • Folashade Ade-Banjo
  • Jasmine Kent
  • Maryam Mehrtash
  • Shakera Robinson

Business Representative Fellows

  • DaVida Smith Baker
  • Eva Ruiz de Chavez

Artisan & Crew Fellows

  • Alexis Carrie – Costume Designer
  • Ashley Monti – Editor
  • Christine McAuliffe – Editor
  • Elizabeth Dunn – Key Grip
  • Emma Koh – Production Designer
  • Ella May Sahlman – Music Supervisor
  • Ilana Rozin – Editor
  • Jasmin Benward – Music Supervisor
  • Jasmine Gutierrez – Casting Director
  • Jenna Brewer – Production Designer
  • Joanna Phillips – Editor
  • Johnny-Louise Nute – Script Supervisor
  • Kristian Candie – Costume Designer
  • Meredith Mantik – Editor
  • Molly Biscardi-Silver – Editor
  • Nya Patrinos – Production Designer
  • Rupali Ingle – Production Designer
  • Ruth Araujo – Costume Designer

Artisan & Crew Fellowship Mentors

  • Lynne Ollie, Costume Designer
  • Phillip J. Bartell, Editor
  • Melanie Ragone, Union First Unit Grip/Producer
  • Christine Belden, Global Head of Film, TV, and Media Music, Warner Chappell Music
  • Dawn Gilliam, Script Supervisor
  • Jayne Bieber, Senior Production Executive

Business Fellowship Mentors

  • Alissa Bachner, Executive Vice President, Tomorrow Studios
  • Kirsten Creamer, Executive Director of Current Series, Freeform
  • Rebecca Arzoian, President of Television, Smokehouse Pictures
  • Talitha Watkins, President and Head of ColorCreative Management

Cinematographer Fellowship Mentors

  • Claire Best, Agent, Claire Best & Associates
  • Alison Kelly, Cinematographer
  • Sandra Vale-Hansen, Cinematographer

Director Fellowship Mentors

  • Greta Fuentes, VP, Production & Development, Macro
  • Kay Oyegun, Director/Writer/EP
  • Melanie Donkers, Development Director, Mermade
  • Victoria Mahoney, Director
  • Rachel Lee Goldenberg, Director/EP

Producer Fellowship Mentors

  • Jamila Jordan-Theus, Producer
  • Kira Carstensen, Global Managing Partner, Merman
  • Michelle Brattson, EVP/Head of Physical Production, Amblin Partners
  • Monica Levinson, Producer
  • Katie Doering, SVP of Original Programming and Special Projects, Herzog & Co.
  • Fiona Walsh Heinz, Producer & Line Producer
  • Lisa Niedenthal, Head of Physical Production, Blumhouse
  • Sheridan Thayer, SVP Deputy Head of TV Production, Fifth Season
  • Tara Power, Vice President of Physical Production, Paramount

Writer Fellowship Mentors

  • Chelsea Benson, Manager, Echo Lake Entertainment
  • JaNeika & JaSheika James, Writers/EPs
  • Jen Ray, Partner & Literary Manager, Heroes and Villains Entertainment
  • Jessica O’Toole, Writer/EP
  • Shalisha Francis, Writer/Co-EP


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