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Chenoa Maxwell
Chenoa Maxwell
Black Actresses on Screen: How The Images We Create Have a Socio-Political Impact

There are many inspiring images of black women on screen, but there is still a shortage of imagery of black women that the average person can relate to on a day-to-day basis.  Who is creating these images of black women?  Are these same creators considering the impact that these images have on society and how that affects the everyday life of black women?  This discussion will explore the opportunities to create authentic images of black women in an effort to tell all of their stories and elevate their role in society.  It will examine a wide range of on-screen roles available to black actresses—from Veronica Harrington and Hanna Young on The Haves and the Have Nots, and Jordan and Candace in The Best Man Holiday, to Sophia Burset in Orange Is The New Black,  and Olivia Pope in Scandal, as well as the roles each panelist has played in her own career, and how these roles have a political impact on how society views black women in general.

Immediately following the program, the venue (MIST Harlem) will show the winter season premiere of Scandal in the theater.  Stay and see the show as you've never seen it before!  Food and drinks will be available for purchase during the show.


Neema Barnette directed her
 first film, Sky Captain as part of AFI's Directing Workshop for Women. Barnette's directing role in What's Happening Now made her the first African American woman in the history of television to direct a sitcom and earned her a NAACP Image Award. She also directed episodes of China Beach (Peabody Award), Frank's Place (Emmy Award), Gilmore Girls, A Different World and multiple episodes of The Cosby Show, for which she won an International Monitor Award. She was part of Spike Lee's directing team along with Laver Burton, Ernest Dickerson and Bill Duke for his mini series Miracle Boys. Barnette also directed the telefilms Better Off Dead and Close to Danger. She directed an American Playhouse Production Zora is My Name starring Ruby Dee & Lou Gossett, and was awarded The Delta Society’s prestigious Lilly Award for exceptional representation of African American images in film. Woman Thou Art Loosed on the 7th Day, is Barnette's 11th film and 3rd for “Best Independent Feature.”

Julie Dash
broke through racial and gender boundaries with her Sundance award-winning Daughters of the Dust (Best Cinematography). She became the first African American woman to have a wide and general theatrical release of her film, which was placed within the National Film Registry by The Library of Congress in 2004. Dash has written and directed for CBS, BET, ENCORE STARZ, SHOWTIME and HBO. She is the Director of The Rosa Parks Story for which she was nominated for Outstanding Directorial Achievement at the 55th Directors Guild of America Awards, making her the first African American woman in the DGA nominated in the category of Primetime Movies Made for Television. Her long form, dramatic narrative films include Love Song, Incognito, and Funny Valentines. She wrote and directed an episode of Women for Showtime Cable Network, as well as Sax Cantor Riff for HBO's Subway Stories produced by Jonathan Demme and Rosie Perez. She became a USA Artist Fellow in 2007, the same year she received the Life Time Achievement Award from the Images of Black Women Film Festival in the UK. Last year she participated in the first successful Women’s Film Festival in Beijing, China, which included screenings and talks at the University of Hong Kong. 

Sharon Hope
 has performance credits in Regional Theater, off Broadway, and solo performances of Shirley Chisholm and Mrs. Reade.  TV credits include an appearance in an episode of the upcoming Power episodes for CBS Starz TV; HBO’s Girls; and Law and Order. Film roles include Newlyweeds (Ms. Tunis),The Cycle (grandmother) and Little Senegal (Ida).

Chenoa Maxwell’
s work as an actress, photographer and producer is globally recognized. Chenoa is best known for her leading roles in such films as Miramax's cult classic, Hav Plenty and The Great Gatsby.  She also enjoyed a successful run as the much beloved Lena on the CW Networks breakout success, Girlfriends. In 2006, Chenoa moved to London where a calling lead her behind the lens. There she studied the art of photography and trained under such masters as David Alan Harvey, Phillipe Pache and Stephen Shames. Chenoa's unique eye, love of portrait work and use of natural light, quickly established her as a much sought after photographer landing her global campaigns and features. Her first solo exhibit was entitled “Introspection India” in 2011 at the renowned Papillion Institute of Art in LA. Her latest 2013 solo exhibit,was “Leaders of the New Cool” at Canoe Studios in NYC.  Wearing many hats, Chenoa is the creator/executive producer and host of the anticipated talk series, Closet Talk. Her home and the neighborhood’s epicenter of cultural explosion plays a major role in Chenoa’s latest project “Love In the City” premiering April 12th on The OWN channel. 

Rachel Watanabe-Batton
has over 20-years experience producing content across North and South America, Africa and Europe. She has produced narrative films for writer/directors Tanya Hamilton, the Polish Brothers and Mo Ogrodnik. She cofounded Department of Film with Nick Quested (Goldcrest Films) in the late ‘90s, producing hit music videos for recording artists like Nas and P. Diddy. Her non-fiction producing includes Cutting Edge (HBO), Insider Trading With Gabrielle Reece (Discovery) and, I Pity The Fool with Mr. T. As a Producer/Director, she has created digital content for Martha Stewart’s Blueprint magazine, hybrid-cultural-identity videos for Global Hue advertising, and a documentary as part of a campaign to combat infant mortality. Since becoming Chair of the Diversity Committee for Producers Guild of America East in 2008, she has helped create partnerships with Tribeca Film Institute, Central Park Conservancy, Blackhouse Foundation and launched a veterans’ initiative. She is a co-Chair of the PGA Women’s Impact Network and has the honor of serving as co-Vice Chair of the PGA East with Barbara DeFina.

Moderator Ylana Kellar is an actress, writer and singer whose credits include Everything's Coming Up Ro'ses! (created and written by NYWIFT member Roetta Collins, and directed by NYWIFT member Lee Eypper) and In the Family Way (produced and directed by NYWIFT member Rachel Gordon). She previously served on the board of directors of CineWomen NY. Kellar holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College, and she is a member of SAG-AFTRA and AEA. She associate produced several educational shorts for the Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park Visitors Center in Middlebrook, Missouri, which were produced and directed by NYWIFT member Geralyn Abinader.

More panelists to be announced!

Produced by Cherine Anderson, Lamonia Brown, Destiny Lilly and LeVera Sutton

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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 Andrew Cuomo and
the New York State Legislature.