If you haven’t been introduced to Chaun Pinkston, we’re happy to do that now! Chaun is the reason we have AWD South. As Founder (then called AWD Atlanta), she served as Chair for many years, tirelessly working to develop the branch, and expand membership. As she transitions to one of their Advisory Board Members, we want to extend our heartfelt gratitude for everything she has done, and continues to do, for our organization. We invite you to read her inspiration for starting the branch, and what she hopes to see in its future.
When did you hear about AWD and what made you think to approach us about a branch in the South?
It was the fall of 2015. I was in the middle of filming my first feature, The Cardinal Rule. It wasn’t going well. This was my first directing project and I was tired, frustrated and didn’t know where to turn for help. After a twelve-hour day of filming, I came home, jumped on my laptop and typed ‘Women Directors’ in the search bar. After scrolling down a bit I saw ‘The Alliance of Women of Directors’. After clicking on the link and reading about the organization, I knew this was the community I was searching for. I signed the initial membership form immediately and went to bed that early morning very inspired. However, I missed a very important detail – AWD was located in LA! I got a call nearly a week later from a very lovely lady. Her name was Rachel Goldberg, and she explained to me that although they would love for me to join, at that time, there were no resources in place to support my membership outside of LA. I explained to her that it didn’t matter, I would be happy with receiving emails and being able to chat with a member at times. She explained that she would share with the board my desire to join and I eventually became a proud member of AWD!
After a very short while, I saw tremendous value in what the organization offered and I wanted to share this organization with other women here in Atlanta, so I asked Rachel to ask the Board to consider allowing me to start a chapter in Atlanta. Now, it wasn’t easy. I had no name or title! The journey was long but I was committed and persistent! It was a beautiful Saturday morning when I received call from Jennifer Warren, (AWD Founder). I had just pulled into a parking spot at WalMart. She invited me out to LA to share my proposal with the LA Board members. The Board members were welcoming and open to what I had to say. After wine, a lovely dinner, and a vote, I was graciously given the green light to start AWD Atlanta! Wow!! I will never forget how special this moment was for me.
Who helped you start the branch?
The first year was the toughest. However, I did not deviate from the proposal I shared with the LA Board. The first thing I did was solicit my first leadership team member, Aileen Michelle, who was 100% on board. She was a strong support and helped to recruit the first few members. I knew we would need additional support, so within the first few months, we had our first advisory board member, Terri Vaughn. Shortly after the first year, the wind of favor blew Tomeka Winborne, currently AWD BDAI Chair & new AWD South Chair, our way!
What was your favorite thing about serving as Chair?
I love women! My greatest delight in this position has been and will always be the relationships that are formed. My desire is to see women in this industry pursuing their goals and thriving. I believe success in this industry requires a village, people who are willing to share resources unselfishly and support the efforts of other like-minded women. AWD affords me the opportunity to share with other women what has been shared with me, to offer support where I can, and to be a voice of encouragement, support, and validation for women in this industry.
What do you hope to see happen with AWD South?
It is my hope that the vision and mission of AWD spreads throughout the Southeast region offering professional relationships, resources, training, and opportunities for women directors that help propel them to their next level. My husband has a saying, “If you make enough noise someone is bound to hear it.” I hope to see AWD South grow with women directors who are passionate and talented…making good noise that is bound to be heard and seen!
What are your goals for your own career?
My passion is both ministry and movies. As I enter into the end of my second year of seminary, I am excited about also pursuing my next feature, Two Women. For me, in 2022, I will have a bible in one hand and scripts and shot lists in the other!