THE SQUAD CLASS of 2022
Bertha Bay-Sa Pan
Born in New Jersey and raised in Taiwan, at seventeen Pan was hired to translate Whitney Houston’s contract from English to Chinese and been working in the entertainment industry ever since. Her directorial feature debut Face premiered at Sundance Film Festival as a Grand Jury nominee, winning Urbanworld Film Festival’s Best Director Award, nominated for Gotham Award’s Breakthrough Director, and selected as a NY Times Critic’s Pick during its theatrical release. Pan’s second feature Almost Perfect, an Asia Pacific Arts 2011 Top Ten Film, premiered at CAAMFest, won the HBO Emerging Filmmaker Award, and garnered glowing reviews from major publications during its theatrical run. Prior to Ava DuVernay’s invitation to direct Queen Sugar, Pan was a director for Mando-pop superstar Leehom Wang’s 3D concert film Open Fire which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, and music videos for various artists including Pharcyde’s SlimKid3 which was a BET-Soul Top Rotation.
Mentor: Karen Gaviola
Shari Lynette Carpenter
Award winning writer/director Shari Lynette Carpenter made her episodic television directing debut on season six of Queen Sugar. Her latest movie Single Black Female recently aired on Lifetime and was the most viewed non sports program the night it premiered. Other recent projects of Carpenter’s include the short docuseries #WhyWeCount Census 2020 Campaign and her film, Three’s Complicated, a romantic comedy that she both wrote and directed. Carpenter wrote and directed the award winning short film Since Lisa (as well as several other shorts) which screened at more than two dozen film festivals. Her feature directorial debut, Kali’s Vibe, a national and international festival favorite, garnered Jury, Audience and Vision awards. An NYU graduate, Carpenter is a member of the Directors Guild of America and Film Fatales. She is a Rockefeller grant nominee, a Gordon Parks Award nominee, a Sundance Writer’s Lab finalist, and a Stowe Story Lab Board member and alumna.
Mentor: Neema Barnette
Ashley Eakin is a writer/director with a physical disability. She is currently developing a half-hour tv show with 20th for FX, inspired by her AFI Directing Workshop for Women short film Single, that won the 2020 SXSW Special Jury Recognition Award. Eakin was also selected as part of the 2022 Netflix Emerging Filmmaker Initiative and her film Forgive Us Our Trespasses is currently live on the platform. Eakin has directed two episodes of television for the Apple TV+ series Best Foot Forward and one episode for the Disney+ series Growing Up. In addition, Eakin and her husband, Shawn Lovering, are currently co-writing a feature for Wayfarer Studios, as well as a thriller for Netflix. Prior to working on her own content, Eakin was the assistant to Jon M. Chu, and worked on his critically acclaimed film, Crazy Rich Asians. Eakin is repped by UTA and Artists First.
Mentor: Kelly Fremon Craig
Jeannette Godoy is a first generation, Mexican American director and writer. With over 20 years in the industry, she started her career as a choreographer where she worked in film, television and commercials. She is most widely known for choreographing the hit music video, Baby Got Back, by Sir Mix A Lot. She also choreographed the film, CB4, starring Chris Rock. She’s spent the last 10 years directing commercials and content for brands such as Nike, Bumble, the CDC and more. In June 2022, she celebrated her feature film debut with, Diamond in the Rough, a Latina led, comedy, produced by Creator+ and currently streaming on Amazon Prime. She also directed an episode of The Garcias, a family comedy, for HBO Max. Jeannette lives in Los Angeles with her husband and her greatest joys in life are her twin daughters and her two stepsons.
Mentor: Tamra Davis
Juanesta "Winnie" Holmes
Juanesta C. “Winnie” Holmes is a Director, with experience in multi-cam sitcoms. and episodic television. She launched her directing career on the Netflix series, Family Reunion. After her directorial debut, she has gone on to direct several episodes of Family Reunion, as well as CBS “The Neighborhood”, Netflix “The Upshaws” and a single camera dramedy for Apple TV called “Life With Ella". She was also selected as a Director for the celebrated “Table Read My Screenplay”, event sponsored by the International Screenwriters Association. Juanesta, a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, graduated from Texas Christian University with a B.F.A. in Radio-TV-Film. Prior to working as a director, Juanesta worked for over thirty years as a Script Supervisor in sitcoms, episodic television, features and commercials. Her goal is to tell stories of determination, hope, love and humor for both television and film. A huge sports enthusiast, Juanesta has competed in numerous team sports and has finished 13 marathons, competed in 5 triathlons and cycled across America. She is a huge advocate for women in sports. Her motto is: “If you have the desire, discipline, determination and faith, you will reach your goal.”Juanesta is represented by Katy McCaffrey and Ian Greenstein at The Gersh Agency.
Mentor: Gail Mancuso
Jean E. Lee
Jean E. Lee is a Korean American film & TV writer/director from Allentown, Pennsylvania. A lover of global cinema, universal stories, and genre content, Jean has directed in 9 languages spanning 7 countries and 5 continents. Jean made her episodic directorial debut in 2022 on NEW AMSTERDAM through the NBCU Female Forward program and will be directing her second episode later this month. Her feature directorial debut PECADO ORIGINAL was the first ever Paraguayan and American co-production and was distributed on HBO and HBO Max. Jean’s sci-fi action short STRONG (2022 Cinequest, Hollyshorts, and Flickers’ Rhode Island’s genre program Vortex) won the AFI DWW Google Grant, Sundance Institute-Knight Foundation Grant, and Panavision New Filmmakers Grant. Her first short CAHAYA, shot in Jakarta, Indonesia, premiered at Berlinale. Jean is currently working on her second feature, a horror-magical realism film called BUT POLLY WANTS TO EAT YOU. In her spare time, she can be found enjoying blueberry donuts and freshly steamed dumplings!
Mentor: Hanelle Culpepper
Tamika Miller is an episodic, award-winning film and commercial director/writer. She recently directed the television drama STATION 19 for ABC/Shondaland, as well as directed and co-produced the indie feature HONOR STUDENT, starring Emmy-Nominated actress Kelly Jenrette (All American: Homecoming, The Handmaid's Tale) and actor Hudson Yang (Fresh Off the Boat). She is currently developing her much-anticipated feature film UNDERCARD, starring actress/comedienne Wanda Sykes in her first dramatic role. An advocate for storytelling where women and people of color are at the center, Tamika co- founded Black Films Travel - a conscious initiative that dispels the myth that Black films don't make money overseas. A gifted filmmaker, Tamika is a tremendous talent and truly a triple threat. View Tamika’s work at: tamikamiller.com.
Mentor: Roxann Dawson
Afia Serena Nathaniel
Computer-scientist-turned-filmmaker, Afia Nathaniel, was raised between Lahore and air force bases. She grew up with a deep love for fighter jet planes, long road trips and discovering worlds hiding in plain sight. Recently, Afia directed an episode of Chicago Med (NBCU Female Forward) and became the first Pakistani-American female director to be hired by a US network/studio in episodic directing (one-hour drama). Afia’s debut feature Dukhtar premiered to a rousing reception at Toronto. It was Pakistan’s Official Submission for Best Foreign Language Film at the 87th Academy Awards®. Dukhtar played to critical acclaim in over 20 countries to rave reviews and became the Critics’ Pick (Village Voice) and People Magazine’s Pick of the Week. Indiewire labelled Dukhtar as “groundbreaking”, NYT “exquisite” and LA Times billed it as a “gorgeous, suspenseful cinematic achievement.” Afia is in development with several projects. She has taught Film/TV courses at: Columbia, Princeton, Tisch and Temple.
Mentor: Reed Morano
Australian born Anne Renton has directed episodes of THE GOOD DOCTOR, THE RESIDENT, BONES, MACGYVER, THE BOLD TYPE, THE FOSTERS and JUST ADD MAGIC. Most recently, Anne directed episodes of BEST FOOT FORWARD and SURFSIDE GIRLS for Apple TV+. Anne previously directed the award-winning LGBTQ+ short film LOVE IS LOVE featuring Emmy winner Jane Lynch. Anne’s feature film, THE PERFECT FAMILY, starring Kathleen Turner, Emily Deschanel and Jason Ritter, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. Anne’s background in acting, psychology and the healing arts infuses her directing- she brings intuition, kindness and collaboration to her work. Anne is excited to continue to direct dynamic and nuanced character driven material, especially work that highlights underrepresented communities, with a focus on women and queer stories. Anne is one of the founders of the LGBTQ+ committee at the DGA which became an official part of the Guild in 2022.
Mentor: Maggie Kiley
Drew Ann Rosenberg
Drew grew up in Princeton, New Jersey and graduated from Brown University. She began her career in the arts working at Playwright’s Horizons Theatre in New York City. She’s also a classically trained singer. Drew’s first feature, SEX AND A GIRL, premiered on Showtime and Lifetime Networks. FOLLOW THE PROPHET, had a US theatrical release. Drew co-directed 65 one-hour episodes for an off-net telenovela series, SAINTS & SINNERS. She also wrote and directed the short film, DAYBREAK, which received an LA Emmy. Work as a Second Unit Director includes THE RETURNED, STARKID and NOW AND THEN. In 2019, Drew was named one of the DGA’s mentored TV Directors by the highly selective DGA Mentorship Program. Through the program she wrote and directed the short film, AMY’S GIFT, which garnered four awards at virtual festivals. Her latest short film, Daddy’s Eyes, is a proof of concept for a feature and is currently screening at festivals worldwide. Drew has worked as an Assistant Director on 6 academy award-winning films, 7 features for HBO and many top episodic series. She has been inspired by some of the great directors she has worked with; Sidney Lumet, Arthur Penn, Woody Allen, Rob Reiner, Curtis Hanson and Jonathan Demme, to name a few.
Mentor: Stacey K. Black
Pat Santana is originally from Barcelona, where she studied arts and design and worked in advertising for almost a decade before moving to the States and becoming a director. For the past years, Pat has been working as a commercial and content director in Los Angeles for such clients including Netflix, Hallmark and Wendy’s. She was selected for Werner Herzog’s film workshop in Peru in 2018 and Ryan Murphy’s Half Initiative a year later. Her narrative work has been selected at Oscar-Qualifying festivals like HollyShorts, and the Los Angeles international short film festival. She is now developing her Herzog workshop short into a feature, Mal Aire, which was selected in 2021 for the Torino Lab Next. This year, Pat directed her first episode of television for Dynasty (The CW), under the umbrella of Paramount Directors Initiative.
Mentor: Jennifer Arnold
Sara Zandieh is an award-winning film and tv director based in LA. She recently wrapped the Amazon feature film comedy, THE OTHER ZOEY, starring Andie MacDowell, Heather Graham, Josephine Langford, and Drew Starkey. Her debut feature film, A SIMPLE WEDDING, starring Rita Wilson and Shohreh Aghdashloo premiered at Film Independent’s LA Film Festival and was released theatrically. On the TV side, Sara was named one of Universal's Female Forward directors of 2019 and has directed multiple episodes of NBC’s GOOD GIRLS. Her first short film, THE POOL PARTY, won at the Tribeca Film Festival. Her next short film, REZA HASSANI GOES TO THE MALL, starring Maz Jobrani, premiered at the Telluride Film Festival. She is a recipient of a MacDowell Colony fellowship and the Fulbright Grant for Filmmaking. She holds an MFA from Columbia University’s School of the Arts.
Mentor: Rachel Lee Goldenberg