WCA ALUMNI BOARD - 2015-2016
TERESA LO - Co-Chair
Teresa Lo is a versatile creative who has worked in publishing, digital news, television, and film. She has a B.A. in History from the University of Kansas and a M.F.A. in Writing for Screen and Television from USC School of Cinematic Arts. Her debut novel, Hell’s Game, was one of the top 20 young adult horror novels on Amazon in 2013; and her follow-up series, The Red Lantern Scandals, was also a bestselling work. She has been interviewed by leading Asian-American publications such as Hyphen Magazine and Angry Asian Man, and in 2013, she was the judge for Hyphen Magazine’s first ever erotica writing contest. She has been published in the Comma, Splice Literary Journal; Buzzfeed; Yahoo; The Hollywood Reporter; USC's School of Cinematic Arts’ website; and The University Daily Kansan. Lo was a participant of the prestigious NAMIC Fall Writers Workshop and won the Grand Prize in the 2010 Script Pipeline Screenplay Contest. She was a former cast member on PBS’ movie and television review show, Just Seen It; and she is currently the Head of Development of Haimes Productions, which was created by Dreamworks executive-turned-screenwriter Marc Haimes.
PHOEBE (SHACKEROFF) REESE - Co-Chair
Phoebe returns to the WCA Board after serving as the founding Chair of WCA and in various leadership positions throughout the group’s first decade. Phoebe’s professional experience spans film, television, new media, and sustainability. Her passion is for media that makes a difference, especially in the areas of science, the environment, and the success of women and children. A Southern California native, Phoebe holds an MFA in Film and Television Production from USC School of Cinematic Arts and a BA in Literature from Yale. She is excited to initiate new concepts for connecting WCA members to one other. Though rarely bored, Phoebe is getting reeeeallly tired of the Celluloid Ceiling numbers that repeat each year. We’re creators. We’re collaborators. Let’s make the world we want to live in.
NICOLETTE DASKALAKIS - Events Co-Chair
Nicolette Daskalakis was born in San Francisco and spent her childhood in Oakland, CA. She received a BA in Film Production from the USC School of Cinematic Arts and a minor in Intermedia Arts from the Roski School of Art and Design. With a background in both print journalism and photography, Nicolette first began applying her skills to documentary film and created several non-fiction shorts for community television, including the award-winning Whymcyles: A Boy and His Bikes (2010). Her award-winning junior thesis film, Heart to Heart (2012) has been featured in festivals throughout the US. As a director and writer, Nicolette gravitates towards stories that feature strong, female characters. Her work often utilizes magical realism to both illuminate and explore underrepresented people, voices and social issues. When she's not making/watching films she enjoys photography, fencing and sixties music. You can view her work at www.nicolettedaskalakis.com
KELLY WILLIAMS - Events Co-Chair
Kelly Williams is originally from Chappaqua, NY. She received a double B.A. in Cinema - Critical Studies from the USC School of Cinematic Arts and in Print and Digital Journalism from the Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism. During her time as an undergraduate, she worked for ShopSmart magazine (publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, etc.), CBS New York, Oprah Magazine, LA.TV, and Integrated Sales Production for NBCUniversal Local Media. She developed key relationships in the cinema world working the Cannes Film Festival in May 2011 and the Sundance Film Festival in January 2012. Upon graduation, she ran marketing and ad sales for political news source Talking Points Memo. She returned to entertainment as part of the NBC Page Program. She currently works as the assistant in the Program Planning & Scheduling department at NBC network.
SIMONE VALENTINE – Finance Chair
Simone earned her BA in English Writing, Language and Rhetoric from the University of Maryland at College Park, and worked as a Project Assistant at a large nonprofit in Washington, DC. She later moved west to pursue her MFA in film and television production at USC's School of Cinematic Arts. Upon graduation, Simone worked in post production for reality television and did freelance script consulting and producing. She also worked in the financial services and nonprofit education fields before returning to entertainment. She currently works in the Legal and Business Affairs department at Fox Entertainment Group.
WCA EAST CO-CHAIRS:
Diane Lisa Johnson - Co-Chair
Diane Lisa Johnson is an award-winning writer-director-producer whose short films have screened at 28 festivals internationally and won 18 awards. In addition, they've garnered television broadcast distribution throughout Europe and the United States on the French TV Channel MCE (Ma Chaîne Etudiante), the Military Discovery Channel, and PBS. Her work has won grants from the Irving Lerner Endowment fund and The Caucus for Producers, Writers & Directors Foundation. Her acclaimed short film Swimming won 16 awards, including Honorable Mention in honor of Ida Lupino from the Directors Guild of America’s Student Film Awards. More recently, her original sitcom pilot Living with Linda won the Empire Award at the 2014 New York Screenplay Contest.
Ms. Johnson holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Carnegie Mellon University’s top-ranked Tepper School of Business. She went on to study filmmaking at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and screenwriting at Stanford University’s Continuing Studies program before going on to receive her Masters of Fine Arts degree in Cinema-Television Production from the University of Southern California’s renowned School of Cinematic Arts.
In 2010 Ms. Johnson teamed up with USC classmate Merva Faddoul to re-launch the East Coast Chapter of USC’s Women of Cinematic Arts. In addition to their Facebook group and listserv, WCA East holds networking events in New York City, including its Annual Spring Brunch, Oscar Party, and Holiday Party. Ms. Johnson has been a member of WCA since its inception. She also organizes screenwriting groups of USC Alumni writers who meet up monthly in private homes throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Padmini Narumanchi - Co-Chair
Padmini Narumanchi is a writer and educator. She earned her BA in Film Theory from UC Berkeley and MFA in Film & Television Production from USC School of Cinematic Arts (Courtney & Steven J. Ross Fellow). Originally hailing from the East Coast, she moved back in 2002 and was a NYC Teaching Fellow, earning her MSEd in Urban Adolescence Education while teaching English to high school students in the Bronx. She has worked at several award-winning youth media/technology programs. She has 1st Assistant Directed and co-produced three independent features directed by USC-SCA Alums. Padmini is a member of the Producers Guild of America-East (Women’s Impact Network, Diversity Committee & PGA Green). She lives in Brooklyn and is an Adjunct Professor, teaching film production and screenwriting.
Upcoming event information for the WCA East can be found here.
WCA Student Board 2015-2016
SARAH JONES, President
Although born and raised in Minnesota, Sarah has come to feel at home in the hustle and bustle that is the film industry in Los Angeles. She has taken her experience from her degree in Film and Television Production with a minor in Business Administration and applied it to positions from development to physical production, most recently in the Television Academy Foundation’s Internship Program. She is passionate about many things, namely superhero television shows, small portions of fancy food, pretending to hike, and the fundamental right of equality between all people.
TARA SHIVKUMAR, Vice President
Hailing from Massachusetts, Tara is current junior in the Writing for Screen and Television program at SCA. As a queer woman of color, she's acutely aware of the impact representation and diversity in film have on the cultural mindset. She uses these lenses of her different identities to not only shape her writing, but to also shape how she views the world around her. Her favorite female characters are Kate Austen from 'Lost' and Quinn from 'UnREAL', and her favorite feminist filmmaker is Shonda Rhimes. Outside of WCA, her interests include orca whales, bagels, David Fincher's entire filmography, and One Direction.
NEDA DAVARPANAH, Vice President
Neda has always been passionate about writing and aspires to write for television and film. She also enjoys directing, cinematography, and editing. Her other hobbies include reading graphic novels and poetry, talking politics, chilling at the beach, and playing guitar. She's excited to be at a university that celebrates different perspectives in cinema. As a woman and a first-generation American, it’s sometimes difficult to know where you fit in, especially because those perspectives aren’t presented very often in the media. Neda thinks WCA is the best place to start the process of change and progress.
MOLLY BERNSTEIN, Secretary
Molly Bernstein is a Junior Communications major and Cinematic Arts minor. She is so excited to be a part of the WCA Executive Board, and is looking forward to working with an organization that promotes her two favorite things: film and feminism! She is from Los Angeles, CA and is hoping that everyone is right when they tell her that "this is the place to be if you want to be in film," and wrong when they say, "but only if you have the right connections."
SIERRA WILKIE, Treasurer
Sierra is from New York, and moved to LA as soon as she could. She is currently a junior Theatre Major (BA Acting) and minoring in Cinematic Arts. She has interned for Walt Disney World and Good Universe, a production company based in Beverly Hills. As a former psych major, she takes the role of entertainment’s effect on society very seriously and intends to do all she can to expand the narratives being represented to the public. Her favorite female icons/characters are Olivia Pope from ‘Scandal’ and Audrey Hepburn. Aside from her vested interest in shaping cultural psychology through film and entertainment, she enjoys hiking, animals, and musicals.
MARIA ALVAREZ, Promotions
Born and raised in Cleveland, Maria is an 18-year-old internationally recognized filmmaker. Growing up in a small town, Maria took on the role of director, cinematographer, editor and writer on all of her projects. Her films have been screened in dozens of film festivals, including the Los Angeles Film Festival, the Cleveland International Film Festival, and the San Francisco International Film Festival. Maria was selected as a 2014 National YoungArts Foundation Winner in the Cinematic Arts and consequently had one of her films screened at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in NYC. Her films have also been featured on the White House website as well as being recognized by Google as a "Breakthrough in Technology" Winner. Her shorts have received many awards, as she has won "Best Overall Film" at numerous film festivals. In the summer of 2014, Maria interned at the Cleveland International Film Festival, which reaches nearly 100,000 people in attendance annually. In the spring of 2016, Maria served as an intern for Village Roadshow Productions as well as Robert Zemeckis' production company, ImageMovers, which is located on the backlot of Universal Studios. Currently, Maria works as a runner and camera PA for Rebel Films. For over 5 years, Maria has run her own independent cinematography and photography business, MVA Films. Her work range continues to grow, but her main focus is to incite social change through her films and raise awareness for female diversity in the film industry.
NATALIE COHN-ARNOFF, Freshman Representative
Natalie is thrilled to be joining WCA her first semester at the School of Cinematic Arts. She is an avid fiction writer and film buff and is very excited about the opportunity to combine the two. Her other interests include musical theatre, mythology, law and politics, and Roman history, all of which she hopes to incorporate into the films she writes. Natalie is also a passionate feminist and is motivated to create diverse representation in film and television, both on- and off-screen.