Mentoring and Making a Way in Hollywood

Guiding New Professionals for Diversity and Inclusion

October 27, 2016


The MPAC Hollywood Bureau & Audaz Entertainment, Inc. are offering a remarkable mentoring event for emerging writers, directors, filmmakers and producers to gain insights from leaders in the entertainment industry on moving your unique projects forward. The evening will begin with an interactive panel discussion and lead into breakout sessions with the panelists.

“If we want to change the narrative on how our communities are perceived, we have to create and tell our own stories.”

- Sue Obeidi
Director of the MPAC Hollywood Bureau

Sue Obeidi, Opening Remarks & Introductions
Nia Malika Dixon, Moderator, Audaz Entertainment, Inc.

Suhad (Sue) Obeidi, Director of Business Operations & Director of the Hollywood Bureau, joined the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) in 2000 with extensive management and executive experience in banking, human resources and business development. In her position, Sue is responsible for providing direction, management, and coordination of core business functions and major operational issues. Through organizational planning and leadership, she has improved MPAC’s operational systems, processes, policies, and fiscal solvency in support of the organization’s mission. Sue has also been instrumental in restructuring human resource functions to improve efficiency. Sue serves to provide strategic guidance to plan, direct and execute MPAC’s annual budget and fiscal management.

Additionally, as the Director MPAC's Hollywood Bureau, Sue partners and consults with studio executives, casting directors, producers, and writers for the purpose of fostering high-quality entertainment based relationships. Sue also collaborates with and provides accurate and relevant content to writers, directors, and producers in order to reduce stereotypes and bridge the gap between the American-Muslim and Hollywood Communities. She cultivates relationships with and recommends American-Muslim talent to Hollywood decision-makers for upcoming films and Television projects.

Nia Malika Dixon, a native of Baltimore, MD, is a former school teacher who has written professionally for nearly two decades including articles for national magazines, a published novel, short stories, blogs, two volumes of poetry, and several screenplays. She has received awards and recognition for her screenplays and her first short film, Temporary Loss of Power, was an audience favorite at the Baltimore Women’s Film Festival in 2007. Nia studied directing under the tutelage of famed director Lilyan Chauvin, until the time of Lilyan’s death in 2008. Shortly thereafter, Nia began studying acting with Tony Award-winning actor and teacher, Kent Klineman. She is currently mentored by director Catherine Hardwicke, (Thirteen, Lords of Dogtown, and Twilight) and completed several writing assignments for Morgan Freeman at his production company, Revelations Entertainment.

After completing the short film, City In the Sea, shot on location in Venice, California, Nia shot a web series/short film, Chrysalis, in her hometown Baltimore and is in post-production of her original crime drama series, Vengeful. Vengeful is the first police detective drama with a Black woman in the lead, since Get Christie Love in 1974. Chrysalis has won several awards including Best Urban Web Series and Best TV/Web Series in several film festivals. Nia is also the mother of two teenagers with special needs, including a son with Autism. Embracing the storytelling passion and filmmaking vision of Nia Malika Dixon, the partners and executive staff of Audaz Entertainment have come together for the distinct purpose of creating quality, feature motion pictures for worldwide theatrical exhibition.

Panelists

Tamika Lamison, Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences
Kamal Sinclair, Director of New Frontier Lab Program, The Sundance Institute
Whitney Davis, Manager of Entertainment Diversity, CBS Entertainment
Catherine Hardwicke, Director & Producer of Twilight & Miss You Already
Kamran Pasha, Screenwriter & Producer

Tamika Lamison is a Virginia native who graduated from The American University with a BA in Performing Arts & Theatre. While living in New York she wrote her first screenplay, The Jar By the Door, which was a Sundance Finalist and won several awards including the Gordon Parks Indie Film Award. She then attended the New York Film Academy to learn filmmaking and graduated having made her first short film. After expanding her filmmaking knowledge she moved to Los Angeles and won several fellowships and awards in writing and directing including the ABC/Walt Disney Fellowship in Screenwriting for, Memoirs of  Virgin Whore, Guy Hanks and Marvin Miller Fellowship, the CBS Director’s Initiative and AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women Fellowship in which she wrote, directed and produced the multi-award winning short film, Hope. This film aired on every major network. She was then hired as both a camera operator and director of BET's first reality TV show, College Hill.

Tamika has produced several other short films including the award winning, The Male Groupie which aired on HBO. The award winning film Spin, which she directed and produced had a successful film festival run. Always interested in projects that make a difference, Tamika was hired to direct, The Children's Dream Awards, a live-to-tape show in which both regular and celebrity children are awarded for humanitarian efforts. Tamika recently produced the feature documentary, The Real Bloodghost, which lays the foundational groundwork for the horror feature film, Bloodghost currently in development. She also wrote, produced and directed the feature documentary, The 3rd Era of Medicine. The feature film, Sex and Violence Or: A Brief Review of Simple Physics, directed by Sundance Alum, Christopher Scott Cherot, which she also produced is currently in post-production. In her most recent endeavor, she produced, Remembering Her Power, a docu-reality series pilot about a world re-known spiritual leader who guides seven women in critical & traumatic phases of their lives, through transformation and healing. Tamika has written over 25 feature scripts, including as a writer-for-hire and has sold many options. She is currently pitching and developing several projects and works at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the Education Department.

In an effort to give back, Tamika created and founded, Make a Film Foundation (MAFF), a non-profit that grants 'film wishes' to children who have serious or life-threatening medical conditions by teaming them with noted actors, writers and directors who help them create short film legacies. Through MAFF, Tamika has produced three festival favorite & award winning narrative short films working with directors- Rodrigo Garcia (Albert Nobbs), Patricia Cardoso (Real Women Have Curves) and Jon Poll (Charlie Barlett). The Magic Bracelet, which was adapted by Academy Award winning writer, Diablo Cody (Juno), continues to win awards on the festival circuit. Tamika has also produced approximately 100 short documentaries through MAFF's 'Vidz 4 Kiz' program and has worked with Academy Award nominated directors in this program including- Valerie Faris & Jonathan Dayton (Little Miss Sunshine), Bennett Miller (Moneyball) and Marc Forster (World War Z/Quantum of Solace).

Kamal Sinclair serves as the Director of the Sundance Institute’s New Frontier Labs Program, which supports artists working at the convergence of film, art, media and technology; as a Consultant to the Ford Foundation's JustFilms program; and as artist and producer on the Question Bridge: Black Males transmedia art project. At New Frontier, she partners with Chief Curator, Shari Frilot, to development and platform landmark projects in the evolution of story, including experimentations with VR, AR, and data as storytelling mediums. At Ford Foundation's JustFilms, she consults on trends in emerging media as a tool for social justice. At Question Bridge, she and her collaborators launched an interactive website and curriculum; published a book; exhibited in over fifty museums/festivals; won International Center for Photography’s 2015 Infinity Award for New Media; and was archived at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.  Previously, Kamal was a Transmedia Producer at 42 Entertainment and worked on projects such as Legends of Alcatraz for J.J. Abrams, Mark of the Spider-Man and Random Acts of Fusion; and as Principal at Strategic Arts Consulting. Her career began as a cast member of the Off-Broadway hit STOMP.

Whitney Davis joined CBS Entertainment Diversity as a Manager in December 2013. Davis manages several programs in the CBS Diversity Institute including CBS On Tour, The Diversity Symposium, CBS Diversity Writers Mentor Program, DGA Directors Program, and the wildly successful CBS Diversity Sketch Comedy Showcase, while serving as a liaison between CBS Entertainment and its affiliate diversity Coalitions. Prior to her current role, Davis was one of three selected to participate in the pilot class of The Emerging Creative Leadership Experience — a rigorous two-year program initiated to identify and develop new leaders at CBS Entertainment. Davis began her career at CBS as a Page in August 2006. She worked her way up to Digital Journalist and Associate Producer for the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, The CBS Early Show, and CBSNews.com, covering a wide range of news stories from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan to the shooting of congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and other major news events.

Catherine Hardwicke’s first film as a director was the critically-acclaimed Thirteen, which won the Director’s Award at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival, Golden Globe nominations for Holly Hunter and Evan Rachel Wood, an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for Holly Hunter, an Independent Spirit Award for Nikki Reed, and awards at numerous international film festivals including Deauville and Locarno. She has since become best known as the director of Twilight, which launched the worldwide blockbuster franchise, The Twilight Saga. Twilight landed her in the Guinness Book of World Records for the female director with the biggest box office opening weekend. Her book, "The Twilight Director’s Notebook," was an international best seller, translated into 20 languages. Other credits include Red Riding Hood and Lords of Dogtown.

Hardwicke previously worked as a Production Designer on films directed by Richard Linklater, David O. Russell, Cameron Crowe, Lisa Cholodenko, and Costa Gavras. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from UT Austin, and did graduate work in animation at UCLA Film School. She frequently works as a mentor at labs for the Sundance Institute, Film Independent, and the Ghetto Film School. In the last two years, Hardwicke has dived into the world of television, directing episodes for AMC and pilots for CBS and MTV, both of which went to series. Her most recent film, Miss You Already, stars Drew Barrymore, Toni Collette, Dominic Cooper and Jacqueline Bisset, and is an intimate look at the lives of two dynamic best friends and their families as they go through very challenging times.

Kamran Pasha is a screenwriter and director, and has served as a writer and producer on television shows such as Reign and Nikita on the CW and the Tron: Uprising animated series on Disney XD. Previously he served as a writer and producer for NBC’s television series Kings. His other credits include serving as producer on NBC’s remake of Bionic Woman, and co-producer of Showtime Network’s Golden Globe nominated series Sleeper Cell, about an FBI agent who infiltrates a terrorist group. Kamran is a published novelist as well. Simon & Schuster has published Mother of the Believers, a novel showing the rise of Islam from the eyes of Prophet Muhammad’s wife Aisha, and Shadow of the Swords, which follows the conflict between Richard the Lionheart and Saladin for control of Jerusalem during the Crusades. Kamran holds a BA and an MBA from Dartmouth College, a JD from Cornell Law School, and an MFA from UCLA Film School. He blogs regularly on the Huffington Post.

Event details

Sunset Gower Studios
October 27, 2016 at 6:00PM
Light dinner will be served.

RSVP

This event is free, but you MUST register by October 24th by emailing hollywood@mpac.org. Due to studio security, no walk-ins are allowed.




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