22 Women of Color from BGDM to Keep On Your Radar

Lissa Deonarain • March 13, 2024

22 Women of Color from BGDM to Keep On Your Radar
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Eritrean Netsanet Negussie, Afro-Latina Rebeca Huntt, Indian Majula Varghese, Indian Pallavi Somusetty and Black Tomeka Winborne.


Netsanet is a documentary film & television producer whose work has been featured on Netflix, HBO, Hulu, Disney, Max, PBS, ABC, and Mother Jones. She recently produced the Oscar-nominated documentary feature film POWER, directed by Yance Ford. Since joining BGDM in 2016, she says she’s proud to be “creating alongside some of the most brilliant minds and building authentic relationships in the industry."


Rebeca is an Afro-Latina writer and director born and raised in NYC. Her first feature-length film BEBA premiered at TIFF and was picked up by NEON. She was an inaugural BGDM Sustainable Artist Fellow in 2021. Since joining in 2015, some career highlights of hers have been BEBA receiving a grant from BDGM at the height of the pandemic which “allowed [her] to live with dignity” while completing the film, as well as being signed by UTA and m ss ng p eces.


Manjula is a documentary filmmaker and journalist with multiple Emmys and a Telly under her belt. She occasionally teaches at UC Berkeley, where she earned her Masters in Journalism. Since joining BGDM in 2016, she says that she’s, “proud to have produced several films that have played a pivotal role in providing support for the communities in the films,” which includes passing legislation, and educating communities on reparations.


Pallavi is a director, cinematographer, and producer creating documentary portraits that center BIPOC voices. She joined BGDM in 2016. She is currently a Series Producer at A-DOC and won the 2023 DocPitch Industry Award with her film COACH EMILY. She’s proud to have facilitated the Parents cohort of BGDM Mafia Mastermind and to currently be in production on her first feature documentary, for which she climbed El Capitan in Yosemite “while filming a fierce group of Black and brown girls and non-binary kids making their ascent."


Tomeka is a writer, director and producer who considers herself a social impact filmmaker. She's a published novelist and a board member of Alliance of Women Directors (AWD). Some of her personal career accomplishments since joining BGDM in 2019 are producing two documentaries — one of which she directed, shooting five narrative short films, freelancing as an audiobook director and creating stories in various mediums.

Black Caroline Onikute, Black Ashley O'Shay, Indian Sneha Antony, Asian Jing Niu, Indian Chithra Jeyaram and Indian Neha Shastry.


Caroline is an award-winning television producer dedicated to telling bold and challenging stories. She says, “My network of amazing brown girls expanded exponentially in no small part thanks to our Mafia.” Since joining BGDM, she’s produced a Netflix comedy, co-executive produced a FUSE talk show; and co-produced a critically-acclaimed Showtime comedy series, FLATBUSH MISDEMEANORS.


Ashley is a director and director of photography who illuminates marginalized voices and specializes in immersive stories. She's collaborated with brands like Nike, Vox, Wilson Tennis, and Dr. Martens. Since joining BGDM in 2016, her first feature UNAPOLOGETIC premiered at BlackStar in 2020, she was Co-DP on the 2022 Queen Collection film FOUNDER GIRLS, and is making progress on her second feature.


Sneha is a documentary producer, director and cinematographer passionate about covering stories around social justice and human rights. Previously, she was a Senior Producer at VICE Media. In 2015, the same year she joined BGDM, she says, "I moved to NYC…with a dream to learn filmmaking. In that time, I have had incredible opportunities working with other creatives and companies creating meaningful films across more than 30 US states."


Jing is a film and music video director based in Los Angeles. Her work addresses motifs of freedom, mythology and the Asian diaspora in the United States. She says her biggest career accomplishment since joining BGDM in 2016 is her recent roles as an assistant editor and post production coordinator on A24’s EVERYTHING, EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE.


Chithra is a filmmaker who specializes in one-person crew independent documentaries. She was an inaugural BGDM Sustainable Artist Fellow in 2021, and teaches at NYU and Vassar. She says “I came to NYC in 2017 with dreams of making indie films. I had no community, no specific plan and only 6 months living expenses. BGDM was my first film family in NYC.” Now, she is currently working on four films in different capacities — including directing her next film, OUR DAUGHTERS.


Neha is an award-winning independent documentary filmmaker who has produced and directed films across five continents for major clients. Since joining BGDM in 2015, she’s proud of making the leap from producer to director. She says she's “immensely lucky” that she gets to work on both passion projects and high-profile projects, like her directing debut with the critically-acclaimed CNN series, THE MURDOCHS: EMPIRE OF INFLUENCE

Asian Leslie Tai, Black Monique Hazeur, Mexican Brenda Ávila-Hanna, Black Sophia Nahli Allison and Asian Keiko Wright


Leslie is a Chinese-American artist and filmmaker from San Francisco. Her nonfiction shorts have premiered at Tribeca Film Festival, MoMA’s Documentary Fortnight, IDFA, Visions du Réel and The New York Times. Since joining BGDM in 2015, she’s proud that her “feature film debut HOW TO HAVE AN AMERICAN BABY had its World Premiere at True/False Film Festival in March 2023 and had its national television broadcast on POV in December 2023.”


Monique is a Brooklyn-based writer, producer, and foodie originally from the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She is an alumna of New York University and Howard University. In 2021, she was selected for Black TV and Film Collective and Wavelength Productions’ Black Producers Fellowship. Since joining BGDM in 2017, she says she’s proud to have produced 5 short films, including a mockumentary called I WON THE LOTTERY and a coming-of-age short, GAPS, through Tribeca Studios and the Queen Collective.


Brenda is a filmmaker and educator from Mexico City whose work has been showcased at HotDocs, Lakino Berlin, PBS, Fusion Network and more.Since joining BGDM in 2016, she says been in DOC NYC's inaugural cohort of Documentary Industry New Leaders, and been a fellow for Rockwood/Just Films, BAVC, and NALIP. She’s also proud to have co-founded field-building initiatives such as BAMMS, and the Cine Se Puede Fellowship through the Watsonville Film Festival.


Sophia is a self-portrait photographer, Academy Award-nominated filmmaker, artist and self-proclaimed, “Black lesbian myth.” Since joining in 2018, she’s proud of her film A LONG SONG FOR LATASHA’s 2021 Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary Short and her 2020 fellowship with United States Artists.


Keiko is a post-production specialist with 10 years experience in award-winning independent feature documentaries, advertising, and digital media. Her work has been featured on HBO, CNN, MAX, PBS, Food Network, Paramount+, and was selected for the 2023 WBD Access X ReelWorks Post Supervisor Training Program. She’s proud to have contributed to “fantastic film & TV projects including GOING TO MARS: THE NIKKI GIOVANNI PROJECT, BEBA, THE GOOD FIGHT, and PAINTING WITH JOHN.”

Black Arielle Knight, Asian Elizabeth Ai, Indian Vaishali Sinha, Indian Veena Rao, Indian Hemal Trivedi and Asian Ursula Liang.


Arielle is a New York/Oaxaca-based documentary filmmaker and creative producer. She has produced films that have taken top prizes at renowned festivals including TIFF, Tribeca Film Festival and BlackStar. In 2020 she was selected as one of four emerging directors to receive funding and support from Tribeca Studios and Queen Latifah’s Queen Collective. Since joining BGDM in 2015, she named one of her biggest accomplishments as “directing [her] first short film which premiered at Tribeca in 2021.”


Elizabeth is a documentary and fiction filmmaker, show-creator, and alum of Sundance Institute, Berlinale Talents, CAAM, Film Independent, and Firelight Media. Since joining BGDM in 2016, she’s produced and written multiple films, and is working on her latest film NEW WAVE, about the Vietnamese New Wave scene of 1980s California.


Vaishali is an award-winning director and producer from India. She is a co-founder of Bitchitra Collective, and is Rockefeller Foundation’s 2023 Bellagio Center Residency Program Fellow. She’s also served as a mentor for Kartemquin Films, Firelight Media, HBO and Gotham Media Institute.Since joining BGDM in 2015, she received a British Grierson Award nomination for Best Entertaining FIlm, she launched her second feature ASK THE SEXPERET on multiple major platforms, and is working on her third film with Sandbox Films.


Veena is a storyteller interested in revealing the extraordinary in the everyday. Her films have screened at festivals across the U.S. and internationally. Since joining BGDM in 2015, she’s proud to have gone on tour with Pop-Up Magazine and screened at festivals like Full Frame, DOC NYC, AFI Docs, and Hamptons International Film Festival.


Hemal is an internationally celebrated filmmaker and editor. She has won over 30 other prestigious awards and honors, including an Oscar, three Emmys, and a Peabody. She’s garnered nominations for seven Emmys, MTV Movie Awards, Independent Spirits Awards and a Cinema Eye Award. She has served as a speaker, panelist and judge for TEDx, Independent Film Week, and the Emmys.


Ursula is an award-winning journalist-turned-filmmaker. She’s worked on multiple critically-acclaimed films. Her second feature-film DOWN A DARK STAIRWELL qualified for the Academy Awards. Her film JEANETTE LEE VS. also won the Women's Image Award for Feature Documentary in 2024. Her work has been supported by ITVS, Ford Foundation, Sundance Institute, Firelight Media, and the CAAM.

Lissa Deonarain

Lissa Deonarain

Lissa Deonarain (she/they) is a queer, disabled, multiracial Guyanese-American documentary filmmaker, editor, communications specialist and producer. She has produced films around the world, and worked with award-winning directors.

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