Participants and Mentors for AWD’s Inaugural Black Directors Advancement Initiative Announced

Hanelle Culpepper, Anya Adams, Mary Lou Belli, and Mairzee Alma Among Industry Mentors

Partners Include the Harnisch Foundation and Renee Freedman & Company

Alliance of Women Directors announced today the directors and mentors for the inaugural edition of the AWD Black Directors Advancement Initiative (BDAI). The AWD Black Directors Advancement Initiative aims to level the playing field for Black women directors and address the extensive barriers to entry in terms of access to information, relationships, and career-building opportunities. The program pairs participants, who are current AWD members, with Industry Mentors who will share their expertise and advise the directors on their career goals over the course of the six-month program. Industry Mentors for the first edition of the program include directors Hanelle Culpepper, Anya Adams, Terri J. Vaughn, Mary Lou Belli, and Mairzee Almas; and other industry leaders including Karen Horne, Jonathan Frank, and Kelly Edwards, among others.

“With this robust program, the Alliance of Women Directors continues its mission to promote the advancement of women directors and create a more equitable entertainment industry,” said AWD in a statement. “Thank you to the BDAI Industry Mentors, whose talents, leadership, and expertise know no bounds, and the Harnisch Foundation for their commitment to uplifting traditionally underrepresented voices and stories.” 

BDAI participants were matched with their Industry Mentor based on the director’s interest in one of three areas: film, episodic, or general career advice. In addition to receiving guidance from an Industry Mentor, a professional coaching program has been made available to all of the directors in this year’s BDAI cohort. Current partners in this effort include the Harnisch Foundation and Renee Freedman and Company.

For more information on how to become a mentor or how to support the next cohort of AWD’s Black Directors Advancement Initiative that will begin in 2022, please email:

The following are the industry mentors and AWD members named to the inaugural BDAI cohort:

List of BDAI Participants and Mentors in alphabetical order

BDAI Participants:

Alycia Cooper

Anastasia Washington

Angela Matemotja

Angie Comer

Arlette Tomas Fletcher

Bridgett Ladd

Camille Brown

Chaun Pinkston

Christianna Carmine

Danni Conner

Dionna McMillian

Elise Hines

Eliyannah Amirah Yisrael

Elizabeth Gray Bayne

Gleana Albritton

Jade Jenise Dixon

Jean Young

Jonterri Gadson

Kameishia D. Wooten

Katrina Mitchell

Kryzz Gautier

Lagueria Davis

Laila Petrone

Lande Yoosuf

Monique Younger

Mora Carew

Rae Shaw

Robin Cloud

Sandrene Mathews

Spade Robinson

Stacie Hawkins

Tijuana Ricks

Tomeka M. Winborne

Wanjiru Njendu

Industry Mentors Include:

Alexis Ostrander, director

Amy Adrion, director

Anya Adams, director

Barbara Crawford, FX Current

Bronwyn Cornelius, film producer

Colette Wilson, FX Current

Caron Williams, Creative Executive Disney Animation

Darnell Martin, director

Eleanore Dailly, independent producer

Glen Reynolds, Circus Road Films

Hanelle Culpepper, director

Hannah Settle, VP of Development & Production, Be Nice or Leave Productions

James Bamford, director

Janet Jeffries, film producer

Jen McGowan, director

Jonathan Frank, Executive Vice President, FX Current Series and FX Productions

Karen Horne, SVP, Enterprise Inclusion at WarnerMedia

Kelly Edwards, Edwardian Pictures

Kelly Park, director

Mairzee Almas, director

Mary Lou Belli, director

Michael Moss, Creative Executive Disney Branded Entertainment

MJ Basset, director

Rachel Goldberg, director

Rachel Lee Goldenberg, director

Rochee Jeffries, writer/director

Samantha Militanta, FX Current

Tara Miele, director

Terri J. Vaughn, actor / director

Tessa Blake, director

Wendy Mericle, showrunner

About Alliance of Women Directors

Alliance of Women Directors fosters a community of professionals to advance the art, craft and visibility of women directors in film, television, & new media.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *