Refinery29, the leading media and entertainment company focused on women, and Kate Spade, a global fashion company, announced the debut of “Pilot Season,” an innovative collaboration designed to celebrate, mentor, and launch a new class of female content creators. Beginning today, Refinery29 and Kate Spade will debut a new ‘pilot’ from each filmmaker every day this week, distributed for the first time via Refinery29’s Instagram. 

After the videos premiere on Instagram and become available for screening across Refinery29 and Kate Spade’s digital channels, the two brands will determine which creator’s ‘pilot’ will be selected for further development as a potential series, in collaboration with a distinguished jury that includes legendary actress and activist Rosie Perez. The inaugural “Pilot Season” talent roster includes: Anna Kerrigan, Danielle Kampf, Sarah Salovaara, Katie Boland, and Francesca Mirabella & Kylah Benes Trapp.

Announced at Refinery29’s 2018 NewFronts presentation, “Pilot Season” began earlier this spring with a  two-day intensive lab in New York City. Given the brief to create a 60-second ‘pilot’ where women are the heroine of their own stories, the five filmmakers each received mentorship and feedback from seasoned television executives, branded content executives, and digital content creators including Tracy McMillan (Mad Men, Good Girls Revolt, United States of Tara), Ry Russo Young (The Sun Is Also A Star, Nobody Walks), and Kisha Imani Cameron (President of Completion Films), who will also serve on the final selection jury with Perez.

“Kate Spade New York celebrates women who are the heroines of their own stories,” said Kristen Naiman, SVP of Brand Creative of Kate Spade New York. “We are interested in universal, timeless stories told with modern voices, through modern mediums and we see Instagram as first and foremost a storytelling platform. We’re excited to launch ‘Pilot Season’ in partnership with Refinery29 on Instagram and champion a group of diverse female storytellers and bring to our audiences the unique stories they have to tell.”

“With the success of our R29 Originals video division, including our award-winning ‘Shatterbox’ short film series, we’re committed to setting the bar even higher when it comes to gender parity in front of and behind the camera,” said Amy Emmerich, President, North America and CCO, Refinery29. “Both Refinery29 and Kate Spade share the belief that women are the heroines of their own stories  -- ‘Pilot Season’ is the perfect creative playground for such female-forward storytelling.  We’re thrilled to spotlight and share these fresh voices with our audience, by celebrating their work in a completely new way on a powerful medium that we know they love.”

R29 Originals, Refinery29’s original video division, has continued to strategically develop female-forward storytelling, helping to fuel its 110% year-over-year revenue growth. With 28 projects in development, 16 in market, and one straight to series project confirmed, the company is dedicated to incubating female creators as well as building programs for continued growth. “Shatterbox,” the company’s short film series launched in 2016, just announced its third and fourth season in partnership with Level Forward, and its two recent YouTube series “Shady” and “Style Out There” have amassed more than 50 million views to date.

About The ‘PILOTS’:

Heather, a young, racially ambiguous artist struggling to find success, confronts questions of identity, race and class when she begrudgingly becomes a part-time babysitter to make ends meet.

Francesca Mirabella’s short films have screened at numerous festivals including The Atlanta Film Festival and The Palm Beach International Film Festival. She was singularly nominated out of her NYU Tisch Graduate Film class at NYU Tisch for a Princess Grace Award.

Kylah Benes-Trapp is a visual artist who works across the mediums of illustration, photography, and collage animation. Her first short film was selected to participate in the 2018 Tribeca Film Institute ‘Through Her Lens’ women's filmmaker program.

CARMEN works a coat check at an upscale NYC restaurant. Strange social encounters and the discoveries of people’s secrets ensue as she guards their coats and personal belongings for a night.

Danielle Kampf is a Brooklyn-based filmmaker and a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Her thesis film, Presentation, made its world premiere at HollyShorts Film Festival and is now available to watch on Short of the Week.

DOCTOR tells the story of a young dog walker who comes to know herself through her client’s clothing.

Sarah Salovaara is a filmmaker, writer and film programmer, based in Brooklyn and Los Angeles. LET ME DIE A NUN, her six-part series about a lesbian novice and her Jewish stalker starring Ana Fabrega and Hari Nef, was nominated for a Gotham Independent Film Award, won the NYWIFT Award at the New York Television Festival, and was featured in numerous outlets including i-D, Out Magazine, and IndieWire.

ARAH WURTZEL, finds herself an in demand New York City ‘coach’ after publishing an epic Instagram video of her wildly quitting her abusive, dead-end internship.

Katie Boland is a critically acclaimed, multiple award winning actress, writer, and director who created, wrote and starred in the hit web-series Long Story, Short (Hulu) which garnered hundreds of thousands of views and was called "the best thing on the internet" by TV Guide. She recently sold two shows in Canada.

Christina Lopez, a talented aerialist, gets her dream job: a spot in the prestigious Brooklyn-based nontraditional circus troupe Red Tent.

Anna Kerrigan is a Los Angeles-based filmmaker. Her short film HOT SEAT and web-series THE CHANCES both premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, while her Gotham-nominated digital series THE IMPOSSIBILITIES is a Vimeo Staff Pick and was licensed by Studio Plus (Canal) for international distribution.


She is most well known as a writer on Mad Men, but has also written on shows like GOOD GIRLS REVOLT and UNITED STATES OF TARA. Tracy currently has a show in development with Kenya Barris at Netflix. Additionally, she is also a published author and has a budding Instagram following for her relationship advice.

Ry’s films Nobody Walks won a special jury prize at Sundance. She also directed Before I Fall, based on the book by Lauren Oliver, which premiered at Sundance in 2017. Ry’s film The Sun Is Also a Star, starring Yara Shahidi, was released in May 2019. Russo most recently directed three episodes of the Netflix original series Everything Sucks!.

Kisha has spent her career identifying and cultivating diverse talent at Ghetto Film School, Tribeca Film Institute, and Focus Features.

Rosie Perez is an activist, producer, two-time-Emmy®-nominated choreographer for In Living Color, and the director of Yo Soy Boricua, Pa Que Tu Lo Sepas. She is an Oscar®- and Golden Globe–nominated actor forFearless. Rosie is known for roles in such films as Do the Right Thing, White Men Can't Jump, and Pineapple Express, among many others. She will next be seen in THE LAST THING HE WANTED for Netflix and BIRDS OF PREY for Warner Brothers.

About Refinery29
Refinery29 is the leading media and entertainment company focused on women with a global audience footprint of 249 million across all platforms. Through a variety of lifestyle stories, original video programming, social, shareable content, and live experiences, Refinery29 provides its audience with the inspiration and tools to discover and pursue a more independent, stylish, and informed life. Please visit,, and for more information and to browse content.

About Kate Spade New York
Since its launch in 1993 with a collection of six essential handbags, Kate Spade New York has always stood for optimistic femininity. Today, the brand is a global life and style house with handbags, ready-to-wear, jewelry, footwear, gifts, home décor and more. Polished ease, thoughtful details and a modern, sophisticated use of color—Kate Spade New York’s founding principles define a unique style synonymous with joy. Under the vision of creative director Nicola Glass, the brand continues to celebrate confident women with a youthful spirit. Kate Spade New York is part of the Tapestry house of brands.