Women’s Day at the DGA

May 1, 2021 A DGA Women's Steering Committee Virtual Event

On May 1, DGA members from all over were able to celebrate and learn during the first-ever Women’s Day at the DGA. Hosted by the Women’s Steering Committee (WSC), the virtual event was a day dedicated to the talented women members of the Guild and featured four separate panel discussions on a variety of subjects.

The day began with a welcome from DGA President Thomas Schlamme, who spoke about the 40-year history of the WSC and the Guild’s commitment to the Committee’s work on the important issues of diversity, inclusion, education and inspiration.

Following Schlamme’s welcome, WSC Activities & Events Committee Co-Coordinators Shaz Bennett and Rachel Raimist explained how the day would proceed and the event kicked off with the day’s first panel.

Director Spotlight: Mentorship in Directing Blockbusters

In a one-on-one conversation, Directors Gina Prince-Bythewood (Beyond the Lights, The Old Guard) and Kasi Lemmons (Eve’s Bayou, Harriet) discussed how they got a leg-up in the industry and what gave them the edge working in bigger budgets, and offered advice about the craft of directing at all levels. During the conversation, Lemmon shared how she approached action sequences in Harriet, where her star Cynthia Erivo did many of her own stunts, and Prince-Bythewood revealed how she dealt with the pressure of directing her blockbuster film, The Old Guard, by focusing on the story.

In the Trenches: Motherhood and Directing

In this panel, working Director moms Daniella Eisman (The Mindy Project), Morenike Joela Evans (Family Reunion), Catriona McKenzie (Kiki and Kitty), Dana Nachman (Dear Santa) and Kim Nguyen (Superstore) discussed the challenges of directing as a parent; and covered topics including finding balance, utilizing support systems, and if women can have it all, in a conversation moderated by Director/ WSC Activities & Events Committee Co-Coordinator Rachel Raimist (Greenleaf). The panelists also divulged information on working while having their children on the set, how they handle being away from their family for weeks at a time and techniques to create boundaries on weekends if it’s not a shoot day.

Queering Television

Directors Joanna Johnson (Good Trouble), Marja-Lewis Ryan (6 Balloons) and Jet Wilkinson (The Chi) served as the panelists and Director Pratibha Parmar (Queen Sugar) served as the moderator for a conversation that focused on the craft of storytelling, representation and the work to diversify the voices behind-the-camera in LGBTQ+ themed shows. Some of the topics discussed included how on-camera stories become more authentic when based on real life experiences, the benefits of getting people to see themselves represented on the screen and hiring practices behind the camera.

Women of Color Lead: Conversations on Industry and Power

In the day’s final panel, 1st AD/DGA National Board Associate Member Courtney M. Franklin, Director/DGA Sixth Vice President Lily Olszewski, 1st AD/African American Steering Committee AD/UPM Category Representative Shawn Pipkin-West and Associate Director/Eastern Diversity Steering Committee Co-Chair Joyce Thomas, shared their stories of success and struggle within the Guild and the business, and offered insight on how to support a more diverse, equitable and inclusive industry in a conversation moderated by Director/Latino Committee Co-Chair Regina Ainsworth. During the conversation each panelist revealed how they dealt with obstacles, and spoke about the importance of diverse representation on board positions and throughout the Guild.

Women’s Day at the DGA ended with closing remarks from WSC Co-Chairs Maria Burton and Liz Ryan and Alternate Co-Chair Tara Miele.

About the Panelists:

Gina Prince-BythewoodDirector Gina Prince-Bythewood
Prince-Bythewood’s credits include writing and directing the award-winning features, Love & Basketball and The Secret Life of Bees, and the award-nominated feature, Beyond the Lights; and directing the recent critically acclaimed feature, The Old Guard. She is currently at work on the TriStar Pictures historical epic, The Woman King, as well as planning to direct the first episode and serve as an Executive Producer of ABC’s limited series, Women of the Movement. An advocate for equal representation in film and television on-screen and behind-the-scenes, Prince-Bythewood also funds a scholarship for African American students in the film program at her alma mater, UCLA. She has been a DGA member since 1999 and serves as a co-chair of the African American Steering Committee and as an alternate on the Western Directors Council. 
Kasi LemmonsDirector Kasi Lemmons
Lemmons’ credits include the features The Caveman's Valentine and Black Nativity. Her first feature, Eve’s Bayou, is considered one of the essential works of the 1990s and was recently selected for preservation in the Library of Congress' National Film Registry. Her third film, Talk to Me, earned the 2008 NAACP Image Award for outstanding directing and her fifth film, Harriet, was nominated for two Oscars. She is currently developing The Shadow King, a feature film based on the critically acclaimed novel by Maaza Mengiste, and a series, Ring Shout, based on the novel by P. Djéli Clark. Lemmons joined the DGA in 2000. 


Daniella EismanDirector Daniella Eisman
A graduate of the inaugural DDI Mentorship Program, Eisman has directed episodes of The Mindy ProjectLoosely Exactly NicoleSuperstoreSplitting Up TogetherSaved by the BellShameless and First Wives Club, and the short film, Mr. Maple Leaf. A DGA member since 2005, she also has extensive on-set experience as a 1st AD on various shows including Grey’s AnatomyMediumMistressesGrowing Up FisherGetting OnHawthorne and Powerless
Morenike Joela EvansDirector Morenike Joela Evans
One of only six African American women actively working as a multi-cam director in scripted television, Evans’ credits include episodes of Family ReunionSydney to the MaxRaven’s HomeCoop & Cami Ask the WorldBUNK’d, Guilty Party, and Diary of a Future President; and the drama/suspense feature, Deadly Dispatch. For her work on the series GodComplx, Evans won the Jury Award at the 2017 Diversity En Cannes Short Film Showcase. She joined the DGA in 2019. 
Catriona McKenzieDirector Catriona McKenzie
McKenzie’s credits include the feature, Satellite Boy; and episodes of Chilling Adventures of SabrinaSupernaturalRiverdaleBluff City LawHow to Get Away with MurderBad MothersNowhere BoysKiki and Kitty and Shadowhunters. McKenzie joined the DGA in 2016. 
Dana NachmanDirector Dana Nachman
Nachman's credits include the feature documentaries Dear Santa and Pick of the Litter as well as episodes of the remake of Pick of the Litter as a limited original series for Disney+. She also directed the narrative short, Hook Up 2.0 and the documentaries, Batkid BeginsWitch HuntLove Hate Love and The Human Experiment. Nachman joined the DGA in 2019. 
Kim NguyenDirector Kim O. Nguyen
A graduate of the DGA’s inaugural Director Development Initiative Mentorship Program, Nguyen’s directing credits include episodes of SuperstoreBrooklyn Nine-Nine and Fresh Off the Boat, as well as short films, sketches for Comedy Central and commercial campaigns for Tracee Ellis Ross, John Cena, and Reese Witherspoon. Her documentary, SantaLand, was shortlisted for Full Frame’s Documentary Film Festival Best Filmmaker Award. Nguyen joined the DGA in 2012. 
Rachel RaimistDirector Rachel Raimist (moderator)
Raimist’s credits include episodes of the series, Sex Lives of College GirlsDiary of a Future PresidentThe Republic of SarahNancy DrewGreenleafTruth to PowerQueen Sugar and Roswell, New Mexico; and the documentaries Stories of the Storm and Nobody Knows My Name. A DGA member since 2018, Raimist currently serves on the DGA Special Projects Committee and as a Co-Coordinator of the Women’s Steering Committee’s Activities & Events Committee. 

Joanna JohnsonDirector Joanna Johnson
Johnson’s credits include episodes of the series Good Trouble and The Fosters; and the limited series, Love in the Time of Corona, the first scripted series shot entirely during the quarantine. She also served as the Creator, Executive Producer/Showrunner on the sitcom Hope & Faith and co-executive produced the series Emily Owens, M.D., Fairly Legal and Make It or Break It. Johnson joined the DGA in 2015. 
Marja-Lewis RyanDirector Marja-Lewis Ryan
Ryan’s credits include the feature 6 Balloons; and episodes of the series The L Word: Generation Q and College. She is currently in post-production on the comedy, Liked. Ryan joined the DGA in 2018. 
Jet WilkinsonDirector Jet Wilkinson
Originally from Sydney, Australia, Wilkinson has directed over 200 episodes of Australian television drama and earning two Australian Director’s Guild Awards nominations in the category of Best Achievement in Direction for a Television Drama Series. Since joining the DGA in 2015 Wilkinson has expanded her career into the U.S. market, with episodes of Away, Truth Be Told, The ChiMadam SecretaryIron FistHow to Get Away with MurderBullZooCode BlackAmerican GothicThe Punisher and Jessica Jones
Pratibha ParmarDirector Pratibha Parmar (moderator)
Parmar’s credits include the feature Nina’s Heavenly Delights; the documentary Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth; and episodes of Queen Sugar and Doctors. A globally-recognized filmmaker and human rights activist, many of Parmar’s films have helped gain rights for women and girls as well as contributing to the visibility of marginalized LGBT communities. She joined the DGA in 2019. 

Lily OlszewskiDirector/DGA Sixth Vice President Lily Olszewski
Olszewski is an Emmy-award winning Director of ABC’s Good Morning America, where she has been for more than a decaade. She broke into the industry as an Associate Director at Spanish language TV station KVEA, where she received her first directing opportunity. After working as a Technical Director/Director at the Univision network in Miami she moved to Telemundo as a full time Director. Her other credits include Late Night with Seth MeyersWatch What Happens LiveAndersonTodayDonahueThe Jenny McCarthy ShowLatin Billboard Awards Red CarpetPremios FoxTime and Again with Jane PauleyQuite Frankly with Steven A. Smith, MTV’s The Seven and Countdown with Keith Olbermann. A DGA member since 2015, she currently serves as the Sixth Vice President of the DGA and is a member of the Eastern Directors Council. 
Courtney Franklin1st AD/DGA National Board Associate Member Courtney M. Franklin
A graduate of the DGA Assistant Director Training Program, Franklin has worked on several seasons of InsecureHow to Get Away with Murder and Major Crimes, the pilots of For the PeopleShark and Ugly Betty; and feature films including Tim Story’s Barbershop and Adam Shankman’s Bringing Down the House. She was also the 2nd AD on Thomas Schlamme’s DGA Award-winning special, A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote. She joined the Guild in 2002 and currently serves as an Associate member of the DGA National Board and as the Second Vice Chair Western AD/UPM Council. She also served two terms as a co-chair of the DGA African American Steering Committee, as a member of the Negotiations Committee and has been appointed to various sub-committees throughout the Guild. 
Shawn Pipkin-West1st AD/African American Steering Committee AD/UPM Category Representative Shawn Pipkin-West
A graduate of the DGA Assistant Director Training Program, Pipkin-West has worked on features including Bill Condon’s Dreamgirls, Peter Segal’s The Longest Yard, Thomas Bezucha’s The Family Stone and Gina Prince-Bythewood’s Beyond the Lights; and episodes of Grey’s AnatomyFor the PeopleCommunityFriday Night LightsRaising and Sorry for Your Loss. She was on the AD team for two DGA Award-winning productions: Thomas Schlamme’s 2020 special, A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote and Mick Jackson’s 2010 movie for television, Temple Grandin. She is currently transitioning to episodic/streaming Director and her short film directorial debut, MO, is currently making the film festival circuit. A DGA member since 2004, Pipkin-West serves as an Second Alternate for the DGA National Board, as the AD/UPM Category Representative on the African American Steering Committee, as a member ofthe DGA Diversity Taskforce, on the Board of Trustees for the Directors Guild-Producer Training Program, and has been on the Western AD/UPM Council as a member and/or alternate from 2013-present. 
Joyce ThomasAssociate Director/ DGA National Board Associate Member Joyce Thomas
Thomas has worked at CBS for more than 30 years, joining the Guild in 1996 as an Associate Director/Technical Director in the Broadcast Operations Department and currently working as an Associate Director/Technical Manager at the network’s Media Distribution Center in New York. She has been elected to the Eastern AD/SM/PA Council nine times, serving three terms as Council Chair, and has also as 1st Vice Chairperson, 2nd Vice Chairperson, and Co-Chair of the AD/SM/PA 75th Anniversary Sesame Street event. Thomas is currently an Associate National Board Member, serves as a co-chair of the new Focus on Women Committee, is on her fourth term as a Co-Chair of the Eastern Diversity Steering Committee and has served on three Network Agreement Negotiating Committees. For her service to the Guild, Thomas was also the 2021 recipient of the DGA’s Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award. 
Regina AinsworthDirector/Latino Committee Co-Chair Regina Ainsworth (moderator)
A DGA member since 2015, Ainsworth was a driving force behind 2020’s Diversity and Inclusion Summit at the DGA and serves on the Committee of Joint Co-Chairs. She has also served two terms as a co-chair of the Latino Committee (LC), and prior to being elected co-chair, served as a co-coordinator for events for the LC, and as a co-coordinator for Proposals for the WSC for two terms. Ainsworth’s credits include two independent pilots The Project and Law & Order: The Musical, two dramatic shorts Better Together and Breaking Glass, a supernatural horror short Perchance to Dream, a feature length documentary Red Dog & Bates

DGA Members click here to view the summit.


The Women's Steering Committee (WSC) was created to advance the professional interests of its members, and to heighten their visibility and career opportunities in the entertainment industry. The WSC currently promotes diversity through sponsoring net-working events, screenings and seminars, and fosters relationships between the members to provide support, mentoring and networking opportunities. The WSC’s current Co-Chairs are Maria Burton, Hanelle Culpepper and Liz Ryan and the alternate Co-Chair is Tara Miele. The WSC Activities & Events Committee Co-Coordinators are Shaz Bennett and Rachel Raimist.

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