Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media

An Afternoon of Mentoring

and

Saturday March 25, 2017

CBS Radford Studios
4024 Radford Ave, Studio City, CA 91604
2-4 p.m.

The Geena Davis Institute at Mount Saint Mary’s University is honored to be partnering with The New Hollywood on our first annual “Afternoon of Mentoring” event.

This groundbreaking event will offer up-and-coming professionals within the business a unique opportunity to network and be mentored by leaders in the entertainment industry.

We invite anyone interested in learning from our amazing group of mentors to join us. You will have the opportunity to hear their story and ask questions to each of them in small group settings.

Tickets

Confirmed Mentors Include:

Tessa Blake

Filmmaker & Television Director

Tessa Blake is an award-winning filmmaker and television director (NCIS: New Orleans, iZombie). An AFI Directing Workshop for Women alumna, Tessa’s films have premiered at Cannes and SXSW, have won awards at Nantucket Film Festival and the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, have been honored by the Academy, been released theatrically, and have played on Showtime, CBS, CW & Oxygen, PBS & DirecTV. She and her husband Ian Williams also work as a writing team for film and television and have enjoyed script deals with ABC, NBC, FOX and Warner Brothers. As Executive Director of the Directing Workshop for Women, Tessa has advanced several dynamic programs to increase the representation of women in the industry, including an ongoing partnership with Google to change the face of technology in media, and the recently-announced the FOX Bridge Program, which give alumnae the opportunity to create work in the traditionally male-dominated world of franchise film.

Philip W. Chung

Producer

Philip W. Chung oversees the creative content for YOMYOMF, director Justin Lin’s (Star Trek Beyond, Fast & Furious franchise) digital company, and has worked in various capacities in film, TV, theater and digital. He was the co-founder/co-Artistic Director of Lodestone Theatre Ensemble, an acclaimed Asian American theater company, for ten years. Chung most recently wrote/produced Help, Google’s first live-action 360 degree VR project directed by Lin, and co-wrote/produced Hollywood Adventures, a Chinese feature which opened in China at #1 in 2015. He is currently overseeing projects for Warner Brothers, Comcast/NBCUniversal, IMDb, Disney Channel, Machinima, ABC and others.

Natasha DesRuisseaux

Director of Talent Relations, New Form Entertainment

Natasha DesRuisseaux is the director of talent relations for New Form. She acts as one of the liaisons between New Form’s on-air talent, creators, their representatives and internal businesses to strengthen relationships, troubleshoot talent issues and leverage talent and deals. Prior to working at New Form, Natasha managed live-action talent at Nickelodeon acting as the main resource for events and projects including Big Time Rush, The Fresh Beat Band, Kids Choice Awards and Kids Choice Sports.

Richie Keen

Director & Actor

Richie Keen is a WGA award winning writer and director whose work is diversified across the comedy landscape. Richie directed the feature film Fist Fight, (New Line/Warner Bros) starring Ice Cube, Charlie Day and Tracy Morgan, which was released February 17th. Richie is also one of the resident directors on It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, having directed multiple episodes. Other recent directing credits include the TV Land pilot for Teachers (now going into it’s second season), Shameless for Showtime, multiple episodes of the Billy Crystal half hour, The Comedians for FX, and multiple episodes of the new Netflix comedy Disjointed from Chuck Lorre starring Kathy Bates as the owner of marijuana dispensary. Richie also directed an award winning ESPN 30 for 30 short on “Tommy John” surgery entitled Tommy and Frank as well as numerous other network and cable series.

After a very successful career as an actor and stand up comedian, starring in dozens of sitcoms and national commercials, Richie became one of Hollywood’s top acting coaches. Working with the famous, infamous and soon to be famous, Richie quickly became the go-to guy for comedy which taught him to be a true actor’s director.

Richie won the Writer’s Guild award for “outstanding achievement in writing original new media” for Aim High, a show about a high school aged hit-man, which was produced by Warner Premiere and McG. He also executive produced, co-wrote and co-created Aim High, which was the first Facebook series from a Hollywood studio. In addition, Richie was awarded the “Digital Luminary Award” at the NATPE convention for Aim High. Richie has also written pilots for CBS, Fox and NBC, collaborating with producers such as Greg Daniels and The Tannenbaums. Keen is set to direct the feature Partners, starring Mark Wahlberg, for New Line Cinema.

Robyn Kershaw

Director & Producer

Robyn Kershaw is a producer and company director with RKP, a film and TV production company and RKPix a company focussed on multi-platform works.

Robyn is currently in development with Dollhouse Pictures on their first feature film and a number of Indian filmmakers including Nandita Das and Ashim Ahluwalia . Her most recent production was the screen adaptation of Sucker (Dir. Ben Chessell) co-written by Lawrence Leung and starring Timothy Spall and John Luc – celebrated YT star mychonny (over 300 million views across 5 channels) and the webisode series ‘mychonny moves in’ starring John Luc. Her award winning films have screened at over 20 international film festivals and include My Mistress (dir. Stephen Lance) starring Harrison Gilberton and Emmanuelle Béart which premiered at the 2014 Melbourne Film Festival, the Indian Australian feature film Save Your Legs! (dir. Boyd Hicklin) starring Stephen Curry, Brendan Cowell and Damon Gameau which premiered at the 2012 Melbourne International Film Festival, the BFI London Film Festival and the Mumbai Film Festival.

Robyn produced award winning musical film and box office hit Bran Nue Dae (dir. Rachel Perkins 2009) starring Geoffrey Rush, Jessica Mauboy and Magda Szubanski – it has screened at more than 20 film festivals worldwide including Toronto International Film Festival 2009, Dubai International Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival 2010, the 60th Berlin International Film Festival 2010, the Cannes Cinephiles at the Festival de Cannes and Goa’s IFFI and won the Audience Awards at Melbourne International Film Festival and the London Australian Film Festival.

Robyn’s first feature, the adaptation of best selling novel Looking For Alibrandi (dir. Kate Woods, 2000) starring Anthony LaPaglia, Greta Scacchi and Pia Miranda was a box office hit in Australia and won five AFI Awards, including Best Film and Best Actress. It screened at the Taormina Film Festival in Italy and the Seattle Film Festival in the US.

As Head of Drama and Narrative Comedy for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) she commissioned and executive produced over 150 hours of award winning drama and comedy series including the International Emmy-nominated MDA (the first Drama nomination for ABC) and Kath & Kim (series I, II & III), the highest rating sit com in Australian history and the highest rating show on ABCTV in 2002, 2003 and 2004.
For SBS Robyn produced award winning Bondi Banquet and Effie: Just Quietly.

She has also worked extensively in live performing arts throughout Australia including six years as General Manager for the acclaimed Belvoir St Theatre where from 1989 – 1994 she produced the work of Australia’s most prominent composers, designers, writers, directors and actors including: Geoffrey Rush, Toni Collette, Catherine Martin, Barrie Kosky, and Neil Armfield. During this period, Robyn took the critical and now international success, Diary of a Madman, starring Geoffrey Rush to the USSR – the only Australian theatre company to tour the USSR. She also produced: internationally acclaimed film and theatre director, Mike Leigh’s only Australian theatrical production, Greek Tragedy which subsequently toured to the Edinburgh Festival; and the seminal stage work of the Gilgul Theatre’s The Exile Trilogy directed by Barrie Kosky now Artistic Director of Berlin’s Komische Oper.

Robyn studied at Murdoch University and at the Australian Film Television and Radio School and has served on the Boards of the Australian Film Finance Corporation (now Screen Australia) and ScreenWest. Robyn is a member of the Producer’s Guild of America (PGA)  and Ateliers du Cinema European (ACE).

Tawnia McKiernan

Director

Tawnia McKiernan is a prolific director who has been working in the entertainment
industry for over twenty years. She began directing in 1996 on the syndicated
television show Renegade, which she co-directed with her father, writer/producer
Stephen J. Cannell. She also directed multiple episodes of Silk Stalkings and VIP after assistant directing on several smaller budget movies and pilots.
In 2002, Tawnia was hired to direct multiple episodes of the critically acclaimed
show NYPD Blue. This was followed by directing assignments on such high profile
shows as Bones, Monk, Royal Pains, The Mentalist, Grimm, Burn Notice, Devious Maids, The Librarians, Blue Bloods, Criminal Minds, NCIS:LA, Blindspot, and Supergirl. She also directed the two-hour lifetime movie,
Secrets of Eden staring John Stamos and Anna Gunn.
Tawnia has most recently been working on developing her own shows. She resides in
foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains with her husband, three kids, dog and cat.

Adina Savin

EVP, Business Affairs, Disney ABC Network Group

Adina Savin currently holds the position of Executive Vice President, Business Affairs for Disney ABC Networks Group. She is responsible for leading the Business Affairs and Contract Administration teams for: Disney’s 3 worldwide cable networks, Disney Channel, Disney XD, and Disney Junior; and for Disney’s Television Animation Studio. In addition to supervising the work of these teams relating to the development, production, exhibition and other exploitation of original and acquired programming, Ms. Savin serves as a liaison to other Disney lines of business engaged in franchise-building based on such programming and Disney Channel’s talent.

Disney’s cable networks reach over 95 million subscribers in the USA, and provide quality, branded, original programming for family entertainment across multiple platforms. Disney Channel has been the worldwide home of the immensely successful High School Musical, Hannah Montana and Phineas & Ferb television franchises. Its current, original series line-up includes K.C. Undercover, Girl Meets World and Bizaardvark. Disney XD is home to the Marvel block of superhero programs and original live action, scripted series such as Walk the Prank, and Mech X-4, and the animated series Star and the Forces of Evil and Star Wars: Rebels. Disney Junior is winning the hearts of pre-schoolers with series like Doc McStuffins, Sofia the First, and Mickey Mouse Shorts. Prior to joining Disney, Adina Savin was Special Counsel to Katten, Muchin & Zavis’ Entertainment Group in Los Angeles. There, Ms. Savin served as lead outside counsel for Spelling Television, handling all its network primetime series, like Melrose Place, Beverly Hills 90210, and 7th Heaven as well as development and production matters for new television projects for free, and pay cable television. Other major clients included Showtime Network, Disney Channel, and Digital Entertainment Network, as well as television and feature film writers, directors and producers.

Ms. Savin’s entertainment career began at NBC Entertainment, followed by employment at Lorimar-Telepictures. She soon advanced to Vice President, in charge of Business and Legal Affairs at Warner Bros. International Television Distribution, and then advanced to Senior Vice President, in charge of Business and Legal Affairs at each of the following in succession: Carolco Pictures for television production, worldwide television distribution, and home video entertainment; Multimedia Motion Pictures for television movies and mini-series production, and worldwide distribution; and Rysher Entertainment for feature film production, network television and 1st run syndication television series production, and worldwide film and television distribution.

Ms. Savin’s legal career began at the prestigious O’Melveny & Myers law firm where she was a litigation associate, working on major antitrust cases. She is a member of the California, New York, and Federal Bars.

Ms. Savin is a native of Los Angeles, and the proud mother of a talented musician. A private passion for Egyptology has led her to join a tomb excavation in the Valley of the Kings, and to serve on the Board of Governors of the American Research Center in Egypt. She has a B.A degree from the University of Southern California, an M.A. Degree from the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University; and a J.D. degree from New York University School of Law. She was the recipient of scholarships, fellowships, and other prestigious honors at these institutions. She also sits on the Executive Committee of the Dean Joan M. Schaefer Scholarship at USC, and has been a guest lecturer at the Graduate School of Film and Television at UCLA.  

Roger Wolfson

TV & Film Writer

Roger Wolfson is a TV and film writer, an attorney, and speechwriter. He is currently the head writer for a new TV drama on Sony’s streaming network, Crackle. Formerly, he’s written for Century City starring Viola Davis, for Law and Order: SVU, Saving Grace, starring Holly Hunter, and for “The Closer,” where one of his episodes earned Kyra Sedgwick an Emmy Nomination. He has developed and sold eight TV pilots of his own. He has also served as counsel and speechwriter for U.S. Senators Joe Lieberman, John Kerry, Paul Wellstone, and Ted Kennedy. He still serves as speechwriter to some of the highest profile progressive politicians around the world, and locally, as Commissioner of Animal Services for the City of Los Angeles.

Virginia Williams

Actor & Producer

Actress, singer, and humanitarian, Virginia Williams, may best be known for her starring role as ‘Lauren Reed’ in the hit USA Network "dramedy" Fairly Legal. Williams has appeared in over 35 television series including the starring role of ‘Bianca’ on the Lifetime original series Monarch Cove in addition to her many notable recurring roles such as ‘Claudia’ from How I Met Your Mother on CBS for four seasons, ‘Poppy’ on Bad Teacher also on CBS, ‘Belinda’ on Lifetime’s Drop Dead Diva, two seasons on the cult-classic Strangers With Candy, and Bravo’s new series, Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce. Additionally, she’s had leading roles in such films as Woodlawn, the Culling, Honeymoon With Mom, ‘reading, Writing, & Romance,’ and the People’s Choice Award-nominated Revenge of the Bridesmaids to name a few.

Virginia is also an accomplished vocalist performing lead vocals on the soundtrack for the film Choosing Signs. From 2012-2014, Williams collaborated with "La Fresh," an eco-friendly beauty line. As part of this endorsement deal, she was their first spokesperson and ‘face’ of this natural skincare company in their national advertising and marketing campaigns.

She earned a B.A. in Theatre Performance from Fordham University at Lincoln Center and studied Shakespeare at Oxford University as well as the British American Drama Academy in London.

On the philanthropy side, Williams was an ambassador for the "Global Down Syndrome Foundation" throughout 2012 traveling across the country raising awareness and promoting advocacy for the organization. She was invited to speak to congressmen and women in Washington D.C. about government funding for the genetic disorder.

In addition, she will speak to anyone who will listen about her passion for the organization "Free the Slaves" and her time in Nepal and India working to eradicate human trafficking. Williams regularly speaks to organizations and hosts events in the Los Angeles area directed at raising awareness about the injustices of modern day slavery.

She resides in Los Angeles with her husband, Bradford Bricken, a talent and literary manager, who shares her passion for advocacy. Born and Raised in Memphis, Tennessee, she is fiercely loyal to her Southern roots.

Susan Wright

Founder & CEO, The Criterion Group, Inc.

Susan’s entertainment career began as a lit agency intern in the late 90s, while receiving her journalism degree. She then worked the newsroom at UPN Channel 13 and associate produced the hot indie film, Social Intercourse, for Hollywood Video’s First Rites Program. She then joined MGM/UA as an International Publicity Coordinator working on Man in the Iron Mask and Ronin. When the international department was disbanded, Susan went back to the agent business and joined Working Artist Agency in 2000. There she helped expand the agency to representing all sorts of crew and utilized her publicity skills as well; giving the below-the-line clients not only an agent, but a publicist. In 2001, WAA took a different direction and so did Susan. She financed and produced her own indie film Detour for under $100K. The “old-school” horror film continues to be seen worldwide and has won several film festivals.

Her passion for film and production was clear. To date, the film has grossed over 1 million worldwide and, in 2002, she took her own philosophies and what she had learned from ALL jobs and decided to found The Criterion Group, Inc., a below-the-line talent agency known for its ethics, candor and all-star roster of award winning clients. With the Criterion Group as her standard. Susan has shared her wisdom as a featured speaker at the Cannes Film Festival for Sag Indie program. In 2015, she launched the inaugural Hair and Makeup By… Symposium with the generous support of The Daily Variety at the Hollywood Loew’s Hotel to spread the invaluable knowledge of her clients to the next generation of hair and make-up artists. This continued with great success to the 2nd Annual Symposium in Atlanta, May 2016.

Criterion’s clientele continue to thrive and are award winning artists working on films such as Guardians of The Galaxy, Empire, Dancing with the Stars, Suicide Squad, Pitch Perfect franchise, Black Panther and Bright to name a few. She served as a panelist for The Woman Code in L.A., hosted by Angie Harmon and Author Sophia Nelson in January 2016. And was honored to be part of The Arclight’s Women in Entertainment summit in November 2016 as a panelist for Diversity in Media as well as having The Criterion Group as a sponsor. Susan is taking The Criterion Group to the next level and is launching a production side that is focusing on equality in all aspects – age, race and gender by telling real stories for and by real women.

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