• Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019
14 producers graduate from PGA's 2019 Power of Diversity Master Workshop
The PGA Diversity Master Workshop graduating class of 2019
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Fourteen producers representing 11 projects in TV, film, and documentary have completed the Producers Guild of America (PGA) 15th annual Power of Diversity Master Workshop. The eight-week workshop, led by PGA-member chairs Sasheen R. Artis and Matt Johnson, teaches master classes on pitching, premise development, film finance, line producing, demystifying the writers’ room, agent and manager representation, distribution, dealmaking and the world of virtual and augmented reality, headlined by some of the top producers and executives in the industry. The Power of Diversity Master Workshop is free and open to members and non-members of the PGA.

This year’s speakers included: former PGA president and president of Lakeshore Entertainment Gary Lucchesi, TV showrunners Tawnya Bhattacharya and Ayanna Floyd Davis, Film Fund founder Jeff Geoffray, distribution and finance attorney Schuyler Moore, Equitable Management partner Sonia Gambaro, Schemers Entertainment’s Daniel Seco, Kim Roth, president of production for MACRO, James Lopez, president of Will Packer Productions, and EPIX resident Michael Wright.

The Power of Diversity Master Workshop participants worked with 22 PGA member mentors to develop their pitch and prepare their projects for the marketplace.

The Class of 2019 consists of:

  • Nathan Bennett with the Jordanian teen feature, The Camp Beauty Queen
  • Samantha Culp with the docu-series, The Futurists
  • Gabriela Gonzalez and Candy Ibarra with the TV comedy, Mentiritas (Little White Lies)
  • Zimran Jacob, with the Indian mythology fantasy series, The Queen and the Goddess
  • Tricia Lee with the trans-gender led feature, Mother-Daughter
  • Monice Mitchell Simms with the football rom-com, SACKED
  • Sade Oyinade and Deshawn Plair with the female-centric feature, Better Than I Know Myself
  • Diana Romero with the female-driven police procedural, SOLD
  • Widad Shafakoj with the Syrian war crimes documentary, Caesar (Tsar)
  • Justine Wentzell with the tweenage TV comedy, Identity Crisis of a Banana
  • Delbert Whetter and Jevon Whetter with the deaf teen coming of age feature, Flash Before the Bang

In a joint statement, Master Workshop co-chairs Artis and Johnson shared, “What a way to celebrate 15 years of the Power of Diversity Master Workshop!  Already, this class is making strides within the industry, winning development grants, becoming Nicholls Quarter Finalists, securing representation and getting read by some of the top companies in our industry. This is the only program in the Industry dedicated to training the next wave of producers. After so many years, there’s now a groundswell of diverse voices spreading throughout our media. Audiences are eager to embrace stories that reflect their own experience, so we’re convinced industry leaders will be just as eager to embrace these producers.”

PGA Workshop participants have gone on to produce top television shows and major films, including LaToya Morgan (two-time NAACP Image Award-nominee for Turn: Washington’s Spies, Into the Badlands), Aaron Rahsaan Thomas (S.W.A.T., Sleepy Hollow, CSI: NY, Southland), Ben Lobato (Ice, Queen of the South, Justified), Hollie Overton (Shadowhunters, The Client List) and Sarah DiLeo (Bless Me, Ultima).

In addition, the PGA Diversity Committee has fostered partnerships with international producers’ organizations, accepting creatives from around the world into the Power of Diversity Master Workshop, and in exchange, conducts the Workshop on four continents, in Jordan, South Africa, Brazil and Taiwan.

Applications for next year’s program will be available in February 2020. Click here for more info.


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