The Reel Truth: Women Are Not Seen or Heard – Research Team

Read The Reel Truth: Women Aren’t Seen or Heard

Special Thanks

  • Julie Ann Crommett, Entertainment Industry Educator in Chief, Google
  • Jacquelline Fuller, Director, Charitable Giving and Advocacy,
  • Jason Lambert, Executive Director, Content Licensing & Metadata, Sony Pictures International Television
  • Jennie Peters, Founder, 82 Rogue
  • Megan Smith

GD-IQ Team

Geena Davis

Founder & Chair Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media

Academy Award® winner Geena Davis, one of Hollywood’s most respected actors, is recognized for her tireless advocacy of gender equality in media nearly as much as for her acting accomplishments. She is the Founder and Chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which is successfully influencing film and television content creators to dramatically increase the percentages of female characters — and reduce gender stereotyping — in media targeting children 11 and under.

In 2015, Davis launched the Bentonville Film Festival (BFF), an unprecedented initiative in support of women and diversity in the entertainment industry and serves as its Co-Founder and Chair. BFF provides a platform to significantly boost the commercial value of content produced and starring minorities and women. This initiative is the only film festival in the world to provide guaranteed theatrical, television, digital and home entertainment distribution for its winners.

In 2012, Davis was appointed Special Envoy for Women and Girls in ICT for the UN’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU). She is an official partner of UN Women, working toward their goal of promoting gender equality and empowering women worldwide. Davis is also an appointee to the California Commission on the Status of Women. As an actor, Davis has appeared in several roles that have become cultural landmarks. Earning the 2006 Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series Drama, Davis broke ground in her portrayal of the first female President of the United States in ABC’s hit show Commander in Chief.

In 1989, Davis received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Lawrence Kasdan’s The Accidental Tourist. She was again nominated for an Academy Award and Golden Globe for her performance as Thelma in Ridley Scott’s Thelma and Louise. Davis went on to receive a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress for her work in A League of Their Own. Other credits include iconic films such as Tootsie, The Fly, Beetlejuice, The Long Kiss Goodnight, and Stuart Little.

Few have achieved such remarkable success in as many different fields as Davis has: she is not only an award winning actor, but a world-class athlete (at one time the nation’s 13th-ranked archer, and a semi-finalist in the Olympic Trials), and a member of the genius society Mensa. Davis holds honorary degrees from Boston University, Bates College and New England College.

Geena stars in the upcoming feature film Marjorie Prime with Tim Robbins and Jon Hamm and the new fall FOX series The Exorcist.

Madeline Di Nonno

Chief Executive Officer Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media

Madeline Di Nonno is the Chief Executive Officer of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, the only research based non-profit working in the entertainment and media industry to accelerate gender and diversity representation in children’s entertainment through cutting-edge research, education and advocacy programs. Di Nonno leads the Institute’s strategic direction, management, financial and operational activities. Di Nonno brings over thirty years of executive leadership experience in the entertainment, non-profit, digital and consumer packaged goods industries.

Previously, Di Nonno served as President and CEO of On The Scene Productions, a leader in digital video creation and distribution. Di Nonno lead the company’s new business development and video content platforms for the entertainment, healthcare, and consumer products clients such as Nike, Gatorade, Iconix, and PepsiCo.

Prior to On The Scene, Di Nonno served in executive marketing positions for Anchor Bay Entertainment/Starz Media and Echo Bridge Home Entertainment where she led global brand marketing, branded franchise development, acquisitions, digital media initiatives for home entertainment and limited theatrical releases in North America, United Kingdom and Australia.

As Executive Vice President and GM for Nielsen EDI, a leading research provider of Theatrical distribution measurement and information, Di Nonno drove innovations in digitizing product offering, new business and product development and studio theatrical distribution and exhibition client management.

Previously, Di Nonno served as Senior Vice President, Marketing Alliances and Digital media at the Hallmark Channel, and launched the cable channel and established marketing, digital media, e-commerce, and corporate alliance functions. Di Nonno developed revenue-generating, integrated marketing programs with companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Fuji, Mail Boxes Etc., Universal Pictures, Target, Sony Pictures, Chrysler, and Baskin Robbins. Di Nonno pioneered the Channel’s digital media initiatives.

Di Nonno served eight years at Universal Studios Home Video as Vice President, Strategic Marketing where she established the company’s first Digital Platforms and marketing campaigns. Di Nonno supervised marketing campaigns for all theatrical, direct-to-video and library releases and spearheaded Universal’s launch into DVD and interactive.

Di Nonno began her career at ABC Television Network in corporate publicity working on the marketing communications campaigns for mini-series, sports and daytime, including “The Winds of War,” “The Thorn Birds” and the 1984 Olympics. Di Nonno is a requested speaker at major events, companies, and organizations such as the The White House, United Nations, UNESCO, CinemaCon, CTAM, CES, and featured in media publications such as The New York Times, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Huffington Post, Kidscreen, Fast Company, and Wired Magazine.

Madeline holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston University.

Madeline serves on the Board of Directors for the Television Academy Foundation; Promundo U.S.; Board of Advisors Los Angeles Press Club; GameChanger Films and the Rutgers University Institute for Women’s Leadership. Madeline served as President of the Glass Lions Jury for Cannes Lions 2016.

Elizabeth Kilpatrick

Vice President, Development Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media

Elizabeth Kilpatrick has 20 years management, fundraising, marketing, research management and strategic planning experience with a range of organizations from major universities to strictly volunteer-driven grassroots organizations. Prior to working with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, she held the position of National Director of Development for Cure Autism Now (now Autism Speaks) and Director of Development for the Alzheimer’s Association of Orange County. She worked in management roles with Goodwill Industries of Southern California and the University of Southern California School of Engineering.

Prior to her work in the non-profit field, Kilpatrick worked as Manager of Quality Program overseeing total quality management programs for Archive Corporation and Conner Peripherals. She is a Handley Walker certified lead assessor of management systems and a member of the founding administrative committee for the International Meeting for Autism Research. She attended Western Carolina University and the University of Southern California, earning a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature.

Research Team

Shrikanth (Shri) Narayanan, Ph.D.

Andrew J. Viterbi Professor of Engineering, University of Southern California

Dr. Narayanan is the Andrew J. Viterbi Professor of Engineering at the University of Southern California (USC), and holds appointments as Professor of Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, Linguistics, Psychology, Neuroscience and Pediatrics and is the founding director of the Ming Hsieh Institute. He also directs the USC Signal Analysis and Interpretation Laboratory (SAIL).

His research focuses on human communication and information processing with applications including media, education and health informatics. He is a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America, IEEE, International Speech Communication Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and a recipient of numerous research and education awards. He has published over 700 papers and has been granted seventeen U.S. patents, and his work has been featured widely in national and international print and broadcast media.

Caroline Heldman, Ph.D.

Research Director, Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and Associate Professor of Politics, Occidental College, Los Angeles

Dr. Heldman is the Research Director for the Geena Davis institute on Gender in Media and an Associate Professor of Politics at Occidental College in Los Angeles. Her research specializes in the presidency, gender, race, and sexuality in U.S. politics. She co-edited Rethinking Madame President: Are We Ready for a Woman in the White House? (2007), and she has been published in the top journals in her field. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, U.S. News and World Report, Ms. Magazine, The Huffington Post, and The Daily Beast, and on the Katie Couric Show and the Rosie Show.

Dr. Heldman’s new book, Women, Power, and Politics: The Fight for Gender Equality in the United States, will be published with Oxford University Press this year. Dr. Heldman has also worked as a regular commentator for MSNBC, Fox News, Fox Business News, CNBC, RT America, and Al Jazeera America, and writes for Ms. Magazine Blog.

Dr. Heldman has been featured in many popular documentary films, including Aftermath: New Orleans in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina, Miss Representation, Equal Means Equal, Informant, and The Mask You Live In. She has also been active in “real world” politics as a congressional staffer and campaign manager.

Dr. Heldman drove to New Orleans to help with rebuilding efforts the week that Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, and co-founded the New Orleans Women’s Shelter and the Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum. Dr. Heldman is also an active leader in the campus anti-rape movement. She co-founded End Rape on Campus (EROC) and Faculty Against Rape (FAR), and currently co-chairs the statewide campaign to abolish the statute of limitations for rape in California.

Hartwig Adam, Ph.D.

Senior Staff Engineer Google

Hartwig Adam is a Senior Staff Engineer at Google, where he leads the Mobile Vision team in the Machine Intelligence group. His group focuses on developing computer vision and machine perception systems for mobile devices and Google’s internal and external developer platforms. Previous projects include Photo Search, Google Goggles and Glass. Prior to Google, Hartwig was a co-founder and VP of Platform Development at Neven Vision, an early pioneer in mobile computer vision.

Ian Breckenridge-Jackson

Visiting Instructor at California State University, Los Angeles

Ian Breckenridge-Jackson is a visiting instructor at California State University, Los Angeles. He was awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, the American Sociological Association Community Action Research Initiative Award, and a research grant from the University of California Center for New Racial Studies. Mr. Breckenridge-Jackson’s research has been published in Politics, Groups, and Identities, Policy Matters, The Oxford Handbook of U.S. Women’s Social Movement Activism, and The Routledge International Handbook of World Systems Analysis. His research has also been featured in Time Magazine and U.S. News & World Report.

Rebecca Cooper


Rebecca manages the Lower Ninth Ward Oral History Project and works as a researcher for the Mossville Oral History Project at Louisiana State University, T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History. Ms. Cooper’s research has been featured in the Oxford University Press Oral History Review and the Contemporary Justice Review.

Tanaya Guha, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Tanaya is an assistant professor (electrical engineering) at IIT Kanpur, India. She was with SAIL USC as a post doctoral fellow from 2013-2015. She has received her Ph.D. (2013) from the University of British Columbia (UBC), Vancouver, Canada. She was a recipient of Mensa Canada Woodham’s memorial scholarship, Google Anita Borg scholarship, and Amazon Grace Hopper celebration scholarship.

Ian Hall

Research Assistant

Ian Hall, a research assistant on this project for the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, is an undergraduate studying English and Film at Santa Monica College with an interest in documentary work and gender issues.

Che-wei Huang

Ph.D. Student

Che-Wei Huang is a Ph.D. student at SAIL USC. His research interests fall into the intersection of machine learning and pattern recognition. In particular, his research topics include manifold learning applied to speaker clustering, emotion recognition, and information-theoretical analysis of deep neural networks.

Naveen Kumar, Ph.D.

Ph.D., Electrical Engineering

Naveen received Ph.D.hD in Electrical Engineering from USC in 2016. He received a B.Tech. degree in instrumentation engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India, in 2009. He was awarded the Viterbi School Dean’s Doctoral Fellowship at USC in 2009. His research interests include machine learning and signal/image processing for applications to speech and multimedia problems. Naveen received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from USC in 2016.

Nikalaos Malandrakis

Ph.D. Candidate

Nikos is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Computer Science, USC. He received a Diploma and M.Sc. in Electronic and Computer Engineering, in 2007 and 2012 respectively, from the Technical University of Crete, Greece. His research revolves around the human perception of multimedia.

Md Nasir

Ph.D. Student

Md Nasir is a Ph.D. student in the USC Department of Electrical Engineering. His research interests lie in the field of speech processing and machine learning with applications in behavioral signal processing and media content analysis.

Anil Ramakrishna

Ph.D. Student

Anil Ramakrishna is a third year Ph.D. student in the USC Department of Computer Science. His research interests are in Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing. For MICA, he is currently focusing on building character networks for movies to automatically answer questions related to Bechdel test, character cliques and gender representations thereof.

Krishna Somandepalli

Ph.D. Student

Krishna is a Ph.D. student in the USC Department of Electrical Engineering, USC. He received his master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from University of California, Santa Barbara in 2012 and worked as a Jr. Research Scientist at NYU Langone Medical Center from 2012-2015. His research interests include computer vision, affective signal processing and media content analysis.

Yan Zhu

Electrical Engineering Student

Yan is an undergraduate Electrical Engineering student and a research assistant with the media informatics and content analysis (MICA) group at SAIL. She started working with MICA as a freshman because of the societal value and implications of its research and continue to work with discovering more from movie content analysis.