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Speakers

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KRISTI MERRIWEATHER
Member of Deaf Talent® Casting

Kristi Merriweather is a BlackDeaf researcher, producer, director, writer, entrepreneur, and content creator. She very recently retired as an educator at a public high school by profession. Deaf since age 2, Mrs. Merriweather is a graduate of Spelman, Howard, and Georgia State University with degrees in psychology and Deaf Education. 

This Georgian native is a content creator or “word artist”- having produced poetry and original scripts/skits for plays, school homecoming events, and localized events. A few of her poems have been published in Deaf American Poetry: An Anthology. She is currently working on a documentary on the experiences of BlackDeaf alumni of Georgia School of the Deaf during the eras of segregation and transition into desegregation, writing a children book on Andrew Foster, developing a product line, and developing an online mentoring program for Deaf youths. She also is a professional presenter, having presented at various events including World Federation of the Deaf and the National Technical Institute of the Deaf’s ARTiculating Deaf Experiences Conference.

A member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, she recently completed her term as the secretary of the Georgia Association of the Deaf, was a former advisor for Deaf Talent Media & Entertainment Consulting, and a councilor of the Black Deaf Womxn Development Foundation Council. A few most notable achievements in her community service include being the first to lead a national youth program for BlackDeaf teenagers under the auspices of National Black Deaf Advocates and making the suggestion to the Black Deaf Student Union of Gallaudet to push for the establishment of a Black Deaf Studies program. Both are still in existence twenty-two and twenty-six years later respectively.

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I’m Martha Anger, Jane of all the trade filmmaker. I am also an actor. I currently work for Sign1news Multimedia as a Journalist, Editor, and Anchor. I fell in love with films since I was little girl. I have always wanted to be a filmmaker and actor. I want to change the world through my filmmaking Lens and share my stories. I have been working in Hollywood and Indie film Industry as a crew and actor for 11+ years. I do what I love. I am passionate in completing my dreams. As for my interest in specific film genre, I am a horror and sci-fi director and writer. I’m a nomad child. Been living from state to state all of my life, just to experience different journey in my life, and that made me who I am today.

MARTHA ANGER
Member of Deaf Talent® Casting
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DTCL Workshop  Session:
BRANDING ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Award-winning playwright, actor, producer & educator, Fanshen Cox toured her one-woman show: One Drop of Love across the country for 7 years. Fanshen is also a Producer and Development Executive at Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s Pearl Street Films. She served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cape Verde, West Africa, and holds a BA in Spanish & Education, an MA in TESOL, and an MFA in TV, Film & Theatre. She has been honored with Distinguished Alumni Awards from CSULA and from Teachers College, Columbia University. Fanshen is also a co-author of the Inclusion Rider which was announced at the 2018 Oscar awards by Frances McDormand and the co-creator and co-host of the Webby nominated podcast Sista Brunch - highlighting Black womxn striving in entertainment and media. 

FANSHEN COX
Founder of Trujulo
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JUNE ALSOBROOK

The second born child in a succession of 3 other siblings to the proud parents of Rev. W.F. Davis and the late Helen Davis in Jesup, Georgia, June attended the Savannah Speech Public School and the Wayne County Georgia Public School System in her formative years. June later attended the Georgia School for the Deaf (GSDD) where she was a standout athlete as well as a member of the Junior National Association of the Deaf.

After moving to Atlanta, June married and attended Atlanta Area Technical College with a focus on legal assistance where she honed her craft as a social- philanthropist. More recently June attended Ashford University with a focus on Sociology.

June is the proud mother of one daughter and two sons who are entrenched within the Deaf Community. She has also two granddaughters of whom she adores.

One of June’s many accomplishments and character traits is her ability to linguistically be a bridge between the Deaf and Hearing Cultures with her rich background.

June can currently be found serving the Deaf Community teaching, encouraging and serving as a Deaf Interpreter (DI) throughout her state, region and the country as a valuable and irreplaceable resource.

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JEROME CORE

Head Of Us/Ww Content, Cc:Deia Amazon Studios / Prime Video

Amazon Studios/Prime Video

Jerome Core is the Head of US and Worldwide DEIA Content at Amazon Studios & Prime Video.

He works to create industry-leading content that is inherently inclusive and ensure production sets look like the world we live in today by amplifying the voices of historically excluded communities across gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, and disabilities.

In the past year he has consulted on 30+ series and features including Emergency, With Love, and The Boys to increase diversity in front of and behind-the-camera and promote authentic story telling. Jerome has brought on key partners including GLAAD, Illuminative, Lead on ADA, Define American, and CAPE to consult on content and ensure lived experience is represented in production.

Jerome also leads Amazon Studios’ VOICES event series, which dives into the history and data of 
inequities in Hollywood and ways we can change the narrative across our productions.

In his free time, he volunteers for Meals on Wheels and is the founder and former Chair of Amazon’s Black Employee Network’s Los Angeles Chapter. Jerome is native to the Los Angeles area, growing up in Compton, CA.

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NAILA MCKENZIE ROSS
Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion / AMC Networks

Naila McKenzie Ross graduated from Harvard College, cum laude, in 2002 with an A.B. in East Asian Studies and after receiving a Fulbright Award to study and research in Okinawa, Japan, she went on to earn her J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2007. Theater has and always will be a source of joy and deep fulfillment for Naila and in 2004, she took a hiatus from law school to study classical acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. Naila began her legal career as a litigation associate at the New York City office of Debevoise & Plimpton and in 2011, left Debevoise to join a boutique law firm representing talent in film, TV and theater, led by Jodi Peikoff, which solidified Naila’s desire to work in entertainment law.

 

In 2012, Naila joined the legal team of Disney Theatrical Group, the business unit of the Walt Disney Company responsible for the company’s Broadway, domestic and international live stage play business. As Director, Inclusion Strategies, Business Affairs & Legal Counsel, Naila’s work is extremely varied, serving as in-house counsel while also supporting diversity, equity and inclusion efforts throughout the business. Naila is also an active member of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee of The Broadway League and founded Disney Theatrical Group’s first employee resource group, Ensemble, in 2018. A health and fitness enthusiast, Naila is a certified Group Fitness Instructor and has taught Zumba at Equinox and New York Health and Racquet Club.

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VYRON KINSON
Member of Deaf Talent® Casting
DTCL Workshop  Session:
DASL 101

(NO SHOW)

Mr. Vyron Kinson lives in Atlanta, GA. He owns a business which is ASL Diagnostic Service LLC. Currently, he works full-time with The Howard School (THS) as a Lead ASL Teacher. Mr. Kinson also works part-time with Georgia State University as an ASL Instructor (adjunct) and with other interpreting agencies as a Deaf Interpreter.

Vyron obtained a Master‘s Degree in Sign Language Education in August 2020 at his alma mater, Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. Vyron graduated from Gallaudet University in 2009 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work. 

Besides working and studying, Vyron contributes his time and energy to volunteering with the following: Georgia Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf as a President and taking care of his home.

Vyron wishes you all a good day!

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ANDREA PASSAFIUME
An Insider's Guide to the Film Festival Selection Process

Andrea Passafiume is a veteran film programmer, consultant and writer based in the Washington DC Metro area. She is currently an Assistant Programmer of documentary features with the Tribeca Film Festival, Lead Programmer for the Seattle Deaf Film Festival, and Documentary Features Screener for the Sundance Film Festival. Previous Programming positions include Head Programmer of AFI DOCS, Programming Consultant for the Washington DC International Film Festival (Filmfest DC), and member of the Screening Committees for DOC NYC and Camden International Film Festival. Andrea has regularly served as a judge for the Gracie Awards, a juror and moderator for a variety of film festivals, and a member of the nominating committees for the Cinema Eye Honors and IDA (International Documentary Association) Awards. In 2022, she was appointed by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) to serve as a consultant for the Academy Foundation’s In Frame project, which seeks to build an open access database of filmmakers and films across broad areas of focus related to disability, ethnicity, gender, race, sexual orientation, and social and cultural identities. Andrea serves on the disability committee, specifically contributing to d/Deaf and Hard of Hearing topics.

 

Prior to moving to the Washington DC area, Andrea was part of the AFI FEST Programming team in Los Angeles, where she coordinated screening events for the monthly Cinema’s Legacy series at the Skirball Center, monthly Directors Series screenings at the ArcLight Hollywood, as well as AFI’s weekly 100 Years…100 Movies series. She has taught a variety of college film history and culture classes, and spent eight years at Turner Broadcasting in Atlanta where she held the position of Media Services Supervisor for Turner Classic Movies.

 

Andrea received her B.F.A. and M.A. in Cinema Studies from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. In May 2023, she earned a Certificate in ASL (American Sign Language) from Montgomery College. Born totally deaf in her right ear, Andrea is Hard of Hearing. 

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