Women in Film Los Angeles has a half-dozen new board members.
New to the board are Niija Kuykendall, EVP Production at Warner Bros Pictures; Michelle Lee, Director of Domestic Programming at AppleTV+; film producer Monica Levinson (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm; Doc McStuffins creator and EP Chris Nee; Shivani Rawat, Founder and CEO of ShivHans Pictures (The Trial of the Chicago 7); and Ida Ziniti, Co-Head of the Motion Picture Literary Department at CAA.
“Each of these impressive women is uniquely expert — whether as an executive, producer, creator or agent,” Board President and Gidden Media CEO Amy Baer said in making the announcement on International Women’s Day. “Their diverse skill sets will help us to continue championing the advancement of women across all facets of the screen industries.”
She noted that outgoing board members — Stephanie Allain, Orly Adelson, Adriana Alberghetti, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, and Keri Putnam — who have completed their terms.
“As we continue to adapt our organization to the changing needs of our community, especially in what has become a ‘new normal’ for life and work during a sustained crisis, we are proud to have a 2021 Board of Directors who are committed to our mission of creating an industry where equity is a priority for success,” WIF Executive Director Kirsten Schaffer added. “We are also continuing our commitment to leading by example, with balanced representation of women of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community among our Board and staff.”
Here are bios about the new WIF board members, supplied by the organization:
Niija Kuykendall is EVP Production at Warner Bros. Pictures where she oversaw the films Judas and the Black Messiah and Just Mercy. In her time at Warner Bros., Kuykendall has overseen the production of movies such as A Star Is Born, It, Magic Mike and Magic Mike XXL. She is on the Boards of Brown University’s Women Leadership Council and the Emma Bowen Foundation for Multicultural Interests in Media. Kuykendall is also a member of the Executive Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Michelle Lee is Director, Domestic Programming at AppleTV+. Joining Apple in 2017, Lee has creatively driven the Emmy, Critics Choice, and SAG Award-winning drama The Morning Show and Imagen Award-winning anthology Little America. She is also shepherding upcoming series such as Nicole Kidman’s Roar, Rose Byrne’s Physical, Brie Larson’s Lessons in Chemistry, Joseph Gordon Levitt’s Mr. Corman, Nick Stoller’s Platonic and the adaptation of international bestseller Pachinko.
Monica Levinson is a prolific film and television producer whose recent credits include Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Tara Miele’s Wander Darkly, David Oyelowo’s The Water Man, Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7 and Women in Film: Make it Work! – the CW’s virtual benefit highlighting WIF’s #HireHerBack initiative). Levinson is a member of AMPAS (Producers Branch), PGA, DGA, and on the leadership team for Women’s Production Society. On films she produces, she started a training program for under-represented groups, is a founding member of INDIE (representing independent films in various endeavors), mentors young filmmakers, and often guest lectures at universities.
Chris Nee — a Peabody, Humanitas, NAACP and Emmy winner — is the creator and executive producer of the acclaimed series Doc McStuffins and also developed for television and executive produced the hit animated series Vampirina. In 2018 Nee began her multiyear overall deal at Netflix, where her first five project announcements include Ridley Jones, Dino Daycare and Ada Twist, Scientist, which she is executive producing with Higher Ground Productions, with President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama also serving as executive producers, and Spirit Rangers, which is created and executive produced by Native American Karissa Valencia and staffed with an entirely Native writing staff.
Nee’s production company, Laughing Wild, is focused on uplifting up-and-coming talent with diverse points of view. The recently announced Antiracist Baby, a series of musical animated shorts to be created with the work of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, fits squarely within the mission of Nee’s work. An accomplished children’s television writer, Nee has also managed to juggle a successful career as a documentary and reality TV producer. While on location in Alaska for Discovery Channel’s cult hit documentary series Deadliest Catch, Nee was simultaneously writing the first Wonder Pets Christmas special for Nickelodeon. Nee received Emmy Award nominations for her work on both series. Nee has received 16 Emmy Award nominations and won an Emmy in 2002 for her work on the series Little Bill. Doc McStuffins won the Peabody Award in 2014.
Shivani Rawat is the Founder and CEO of ShivHans Pictures, a production and finance company that supports the visions of independent filmmakers while collaborating with creatives to produce dynamic and groundbreaking feature films outside the Hollywood studio model. Recent films include Wander Darkly, The Trial of the Chicago 7 and the Academy Award-nominated Trumbo and Captain Fantastic. Upcoming films include The Water Man, Badmash and The Ice Road. In 2019 ShivHans expanded into distribution, including a co-distribution deal with Bleecker Street for U.S. rights to Hotel Mumbai, followed by Brian Banks, which ShivHans also produced.
Rawat is a Board member of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, as well as a member of the Producers Guild of America, Women in Film and Film Independent. She is a supporter of various industry-related organizations including Time’s Up, the California Innocence Project, the Horizon Award, the Motion Picture & Television Fund, and in 2019 served as a sponsor for Humanitas, honoring film and television writing. She recently provided seed funding for WIF’s #HireHerBack initiative, which supports inclusive hiring in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ida Ziniti is Co-Head of the Motion Picture Literary Department at leading entertainment and sports agency CAA. Ziniti works in the Los Angeles office and represents many of the world’s leading storytellers, including Margot Robbie, Julia Roberts, Emilia Clarke, Rachel Brosnahan, Matthew Heineman, Zazie Beetz, Ryan Gosling, Phil Johnston, Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, Cathy Yan and Maggie Betts, among others.