DR. MARTHA M. LAUZEN
Dr. Martha M. Lauzen serves as the Executive Director of the Center and teaches classes in the Television, Film & New Media program. A nationally and internationally recognized expert on the representation and employment of women on screen and behind the scenes, her research has been widely published in scholarly journals, entertainment trade publications, and the popular press. Dr. Lauzen and her findings have been featured in the documentaries, Miss Representation and MAKERS: Women in Hollywood. Her research has also been integrated into a number of efforts to increase the employment of women in both film and television, including the ACLU’s 2015 letter to government agencies requesting an investigation into the hiring practices of directors, and a California Assembly Hearing on increasing diversity in entertainment. She holds a doctorate from the University of Maryland and M.A. and B.A. degrees from the University of Iowa.
MARA BROCK AKIL
Writer and producer of over 300 episodes of television, Mara Brock Akil began her career as a writer on South Central, Moesha, and The Jamie Foxx Show. In 2000, she created her hit series, Girlfriends, which aired for eight seasons on UPN and the CW. With the success of that show, Mara developed a spin-off series, The Game, which helped bolster the fledgling CW. When the program moved to BET, the series finished its run with 147 episodes. In 2013, Mara developed her first 1-hour drama, Being Mary Jane, for BET: the 90-minute pilot debuted to over 4 million viewers. Consistently recognized as a leader by her peers in the industry, Mara has been named one of the 50 Power Showrunners by The Hollywood Reporter multiple times. In 2013, she was an honoree at ESSENCE’s Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon. In 2014, Girls Inc. recognized Mara for her work inspiring and advocating for girls everywhere. Mara also dedicates a great deal of time to philanthropic efforts including: LAXArt, The Samburu Project, Dance Studio Harlem, and The Studio Museum in Harlem.
Allison Anders is an award-winning film and television writer and director. Her films include Border Radio, Sugar Town, Gas Food Lodging, Mi Vida Loca, Grace of My Heart, Four Rooms, and Things Behind the Sun. Her films have received the New York Film Critics Circle Award, the SHINE Award, and the Peabody Award. Anders is also well known in television for directing episodes of hit shows such asOrange Is the New Black, Gang Related, The Divide, Murder in the First, Proof,Turn, Sex and the City, Gross Pointe, Cold Case, The L Word, Men in Trees, What About Brian?, Southland, and The Mentalist. Anders’ recent film Strutter had its Los Angeles premiere in 2013, and her film Ring of Fire, on the life of country singer June Carter Cash, aired on Lifetime in 2013, garnering Anders an Emmy nomination for best director. Anders is a professor of Film and Media Studies at UC Santa Barbara and, with daughter Tiffany Anders, co-founded the Don’t Knock the Rock Film and Music Festival in Los Angeles.
Cari Beauchamp is the award winning author of Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and the Powerful Women of Early Hollywood; Joseph P. Kennedy Presents;My First Time in Hollywood and three other books on film history. She has also written and produced documentaries, writes for Vanity Fair and is seen frequently on Turner Classic Movies. She serves as the Resident Scholar for the Mary Pickford Foundation and is the only writer to twice be named an Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Scholar.
Madelyn Hammond is President of Madelyn Hammond and Associates, a marketing company specializing in entertainment and media. Madelyn produces Deal With It: A Women’s Conference for the Motion Picture & Television Fund, The Contendersevent for Deadline Hollywood, and programs the Produced By Conference for the Producers Guild of America. Prior to launching her own company nine years ago, Madelyn was the Chief Marketing Officer for Variety where she oversaw marketing, promotions, sponsorships, advertising, research, and PR. Madelyn was the first person in the paper’s over 100-year history to hold the title of Chief Marketing Officer. Before joining Variety, she worked in various positions for Landmark Theatres, Sony Pictures, AMC Theatres, MGM/UA and The Coca-Cola Company.
Multi-hyphenate Kathy Najimy is an actress, director, writer, producer, and activist. Known for her memorable performances in over 25 films (Sister Acts 1 &2, Hocus Pocus, WALL-E, Madea Christmas, Hope Floats, Zack and Reba, Soapdish,The Hard Way, The Wedding Planner), she appears in two films to be released in 2015: Disney’s The Descendants and A Change of Heart. On television, Najimy has a recurring role on HBO’s VEEP, and is a recurring guest on Younger, Difficult People, and Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer. Her other television credits include NBC’s Veronica’s Closet, Numb3rs, The Big C, Desperate Housewives, Drop Dead Diva, Ellen, and Ugly Betty. Najimy voiced the character of Peggy Hill for 14 seasons on the Emmy Award-winning King of the Hill for which she received several awards. She is also a proud feminist and social justice advocate who has been recognized with numerous honors for her work supporting women’s and LGBT rights, AIDS, animal rights, and reproductive rights.
Robin Swicord first emerged as a writer with her off-Broadway comedy/dramasLast Days at the Dixie Girl Café and Criminal Minds. She is primarily known for her work as a screenwriter, especially for her adaptations of Memoirs of a Geisha,Little Women, Matilda (co-written with her husband Nicholas Kazan), The Perez Family, and Practical Magic. Her first screen credit was on the romantic teen comedy Shag. Recently, Ms. Swicord wrote and directed an adaptation of Karen Joy Fowler’s novel The Jane Austen Book Club, which premiered in Fall 2007 at the Toronto Film Festival. She also serves on the Board of the Writers Guild Foundation and as a Trustee of the Writers Guild’s Pension and Health Fund.
In her New York Times bestseller, Instant Mom, Nia Vardalos chronicles beginning her career with The Second City to adopting a toddler with only fourteen hours notice. All proceeds from the book go to charity. She is the writer/actor of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the most profitable film of all time, the number one film starring a woman, and the number one romantic comedy. Vardalos won the Independent Spirit Award for “Best Debut Performance,” and the film won the Peoples’ Choice Award for “Favorite Comedy Motion Picture.” She also received Academy Award and Writers Guild Award screenplay nominations and Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award performance nominations. Her other films include My Life in Ruins, Connie and Carla, Larry Crowne, I Hate Valentine’s Day, and the upcoming sequel, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.