On July 31st, 2020, we closed our submissions for our inaugural Women of Color Commercial Directing Program (WCCDP). We were absolutely blown away by the 100+ amazing applications we received. Over the past week, our pre-screening judges went through every application and narrowed them down to our 25 Semi-Finalists.
We are officially moving on to Phase 3 of the program where we will be conducting short video interviews with each Semi-Finalist. Through this process, we will narrow down our 25 semi-finalists to 10 Finalists that will be presented to our distinguished panel of Finalist Judges.
Although only 10 of them will continue on to our final round and only 1 will be our Winning Director, we hope this program helps brings them exposure and future work. So without further ado, please meet our official 2020 WCCDP Semi-Finalists!!!
My name is Tayo Amos (like TIE-yo shoes). I'm originally from the Bay Area and now live in Los Angeles. I'm always inspired to use filmmaking and storytelling to speak on important issues in our world and create more images that reflect the world I want to see. Commercials are a BIG part of that - we as a society are so influenced by images that are targeted to us as consumers and so I would love, as a filmmaker, to have a role in creating those stories. You can learn more about me or see my past work here on my website or check me out on IG: @tayo.shoes
My name is Alejandra, I'm originally from Queens, New York, and now live in Los Angeles, California. Capturing different perspectives has always been one of the most exciting things I do, whether it be through still or moving images. I feel blessed to be a creative in this age. Audiences are hungry for new stories and I'm here to deliver them. You can learn more about me or see my past work here.
My name is Giselle Bonilla, I was born and raised in Los Angeles, where I'm currently based. I began my career in this industry as an actress, but quickly realized how limiting (and racist) the minimal opportunities were for Latinx actors. I wanted agency over my career, and the ability to transform the way my community was being portrayed. I changed my focus to directing. In 2017, I graduated with Honors from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in Film & Television Production, my thesis film received the Horizon Award at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, and am currently a 2020 Sundance Ignite Fellow. You can watch my work on my website.
My name is Ragini Bhasin; originally from India, I now live in Los Angeles. Connecting with another human being has always given me inordinate happiness, and filmmaking is essentially reaching an eclectic human population and making them feel, think, or inspire. Through commercials, I wish to make the audience connect with the characters, their predicament, and the universal emotions they experience, even if it needs to be done within 10 seconds. You can learn more about me or see my past work here.
My name is Angie Comer. I'm originally from Washington DC and now live in Pasadena, Ca. Hope inspires me. Because of my genuine love affair with storytelling, I have always hope to make a positive impact on audiences with my writing and directing. Words and images can change the world and I want to raise spirits and amplify voices; teach, entertain, inspire people to keep moving forward. You can learn more about me or see my past work here.
My name is Elitia Daniels, I'm originally from the San Francisco Bay Area and now live in Los Angeles. I'm inspired by human behavior. When I write or tell stories I think about them in pictures. I love the ability of film to hold up a mirror to our inner thoughts and emotions. I hope to combine my experience as an actor, creator, and marketing copywriter toward the artful challenge that is commercial storytelling. You can learn more about me or check out my past work on my website.
My name is Julia Elihu, I'm originally from San Diego and now live in Los Angeles. Being Iranian-American, I grew up listening to my parents’ stories of immigration, how they had to leave their home behind, but somehow were resilient enough to start all over again in the US. As a Writer/ Director, I've always tried to highlight these kinds of stories, ones that she grew up hearing but are rarely explored in cinema & commercial filmmaking. You can learn more about me or see some of my past work on my website.
Jamie Morales La Porte
& Alex Ferris
We're Alex Ferris and Jamie Morales. We're both originally from Southern California. Alex now lives in Fullerton, CA, and Jamie now lives in Nashville, TN. Stories make us human, connecting us deeper to ourselves and one another. We find inspiration in everyday life; in places and people you least expect it from. Through hard work, listening, and sharing, we strive to grow as people and professionals, bringing color to media culture. You can learn more about us or see some of our past work here & here./
My name is Alyssa Fritz, I'm originally from Roachdale, Indiana and now live in Los Angeles, California. Growing up in Indiana, I always dreamed of seeing other brown girls like me in the movies I loved. Once I discovered that a director was the one who brought worlds to life, I knew that this was my chance to bring women of color and our unique stories to the screen, Since then, I've been steadfast in following my dream of being a filmmaker who explored the Chicana point of view. You can learn more about me or see my past work here.
My name is Stacy Pascal Gaspard, I'm originally from Miami by the way of the Caribbean and now live in Los Angeles.
I tell unique stories from my experience that showcase the intersectionality of cultures and identities like mine. Commercial directing gives my work a global platform, promoting visibility to Black women and the Black diaspora. I love to tell stories with rhythm, movement, and a sprinkle of sazón. You can learn more about me or see my past work here.
My name is Mikki Andrea, I'm originally from Central California and now live in Los Angeles. I am inspired to be a filmmaker because I have a knack for recognizing and lifting up people’s gifts/talents. I would love to bring people together to create a positive shared work environment plus a beautiful product. Commercials are an efficient way of storytelling and I am interested in the fast-paced nature of blending brands with a story. You can learn more about me or see my past work on my website.
My name is Vanessa K. Herron. I'm originally from Ft. Worth, Texas, and now live in Thousand Oaks, California. Storytelling has been a driving force in my life. My most vivid childhood memories involve reading books or listening to family stories of days gone by. I love the challenge of merging advertising with powerful, memorable stories. I also appreciate how commercial directors can work on multiple projects per year. You can see a low-budget short film I wrote and directed here.
My name is Kristin Hunt, I'm originally from Atlanta, GA, and now live in Ellenwood, GA.
What inspires me to be a filmmaker is my point of view being represented by other amazing artists. I believe it’s the most universal way to give back. Art changes lives for the better. You can find me on Instagram here.
June Nho Ivers
My name is June Nho Ivers, I'm originally from Chicago and now live in Seattle. With stars in my eyes, I headed to Los Angeles to work with some stellar people in the music video and commercial production world. When I left LA, I created my own mission statement to "use my powers of production for good". I picked up the camera and started shooting social media content and commercial content. I produced my first feature-length documentary, "Since I Been Down". You can see what I've been up to on my website.
My name is Akiko Izumitani. I'm originally from Japan and now live in Los Angeles. I always wanted to shoot commercials in a cinematic way. I want to create wonderful cinematic commercials to America as I enjoy the great stories in Japanese and Thai commercials. Japanese commercials were always entertaining for me to watch and I would love to bring that into American commercials as well. You can learn more about me or see my past work on my website.
My name is Martine Jean, I'm originally from Cap-Haitien, Haiti and now live in Los Angeles, California. "Gouverneurs de la Rosee," a heart-rending love story against the backdrop of a revolution, ignited my love of filmmaking. Becoming a filmmaker seemed possible after I watched an indictment of the Papa Doc regime entitled "L'Homme sur les Quais" ("The Man by the Shore"), and learned its director was Haitian. You can learn more about me or see my past work here martinejean.com.
My name is Nate'Eya Kahsai, I'm originally from Santa Barbara, California, and now live in Los Angeles. Capturing beauty and story is what keeps me in love with filmmaking. As a director, it is an honor to come into space and dance with other rhythms; the DP, an actor, or editor. It's finding joy in the differences but also striving to create an honest story. You can learn more about me or see my past work here on my website.
My name is Jahan Lopes, I'm originally from South Africa and now live in Los Angeles. I love the ability commercials have to capture your attention, move you, and inspire you in just a matter of seconds - it's truly an art form. After watching this very commercial 15 years ago I was bitten, and knew I wanted to be a commercial director - to tell stories and evoke emotion, just like this! You can learn more about me or see my past work on my website.
My name is Losa Amara Meru, I'm originally from Pasadena, CA and now I live in Los Angeles, CA. I want to tell engaging, authentic stories that spread a positive message. Stories that offer a perspective change; stories that offer a spark of curiosity, wonder, and inspiration to go out and be the best human beings we can be to our planet and to each other. You can learn more about me or see my past work on my website.
My name is Jing Niu, I'm originally from China and now live in Los Angeles. As a filmmaker, I'm inspired on a day-to-day basis by the stories of resilience, grit, and mutual joy from my communities of color. I'm excited to become a commercial director so that I can show the world how my communities shine. You can learn more about me or see my past work here.
My name is Benita Ozoude! I am a Nigerian American and live in Austin, Texas. Filmmaking is a way to express myself and process the world around me. I believe sharing our unique stories and our voices can make a beautiful difference. As a filmmaker, I have the opportunity to humbly listen and retell those stories. My prayer is that my work encourages us to be more emotionally aware and compassionate towards others. You can learn more about my story and work here.
My name is Fabienne Roc, I'm originally from Rockland, NY, and now live in Harlem, NY. I love storytelling. I want to showcase unique stories that haven't had the opportunity to be told to the masses in beautiful ways. I think I bring a unique eye and approach to commercial directing. I’m currently inspired by today's climate of people holding brands accountable for authenticity. You can learn more about me or see my past work here.
My name is Sahlima, I consider myself a global citizen as I was raised in four different countries and six different cities including NYC and now I live in Los Angeles. What inspires me as a filmmaker is how impactful stories in films, television, and commercials can have on an audience by connecting with them on a deeply personal level. I believe women have strong voices and storytelling gives us the opportunity to be heard, which will pave the way for equitable humanity, especially during this crucial time in our country and the world. Film is an art medium that encourages a more inclusive, more empathetic, and unified direction. You can learn more about me on my website.
My name is Tatianna Sims, I'm originally from Princeton, New Jersey, and now live in Los Angeles. My aha moment came after making a documentary short about the Achievement Gap. Making the documentary, I realized race affects access to learning. That film became the catalyst to reframe equality in education in Princeton. First hand, I saw how film could move and impact. Inspired, I became a filmmaker. You can learn more about me here.
My name is Erial Tompkins; I'm originally from Washington, D.C., and now live in Los Angeles. Filmmaking is an instant connection; it inspires, bonds, and heals. I want my work to be a conversation between myself and the audience. Since the “Got Milk? - Aaron Burr” ad made my family roar with laughter (while cleverly teaching us who shot Hamilton), I’ve known I wanted to make ads. I am over the moon to be a semi-finalist and thankful to those at Paxero for providing the opportunity. You can learn more about me or see my past work on my website.
My name is Alaa Zabara, I'm originally from Yemen and now live in Virginia, USA. To be a commercial director is not solely to create content to persuade the audience, it's also to create a medium of an art form that starts with a story and character. And with the lack of characters like me on TV is what inspires me to be a filmmaker. You can learn more about me or see my past work on my website.
The winning director of our inaugural Women of Color Commercial Directing Program will be announced on August 31st, 2020. Click here to learn more about what we're hoping to accomplish through WCCDP!