Aakash Sharma is an aspiring filmmaker with a passion for storytelling, currently attending Columbia College Hollywood. As an immigrant, he found it challenging at times to navigate through such a foreign industry but with the help of GEI, received the guidance he needed to succeed. Aakash recently secured an internship at Film Nation where he analyzes screenplays, a role that aligns with his love for storytelling.
Abraham Herrera is a film director, producer, writer, editor, and animator who has a strong appreciation for visual storytelling. He underwent a dual-degree at Rhode Island School of Design and Brown University before transferring to Columbia College where he earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts with a 3.99 GPA. As a creator, Abraham is interested in exploring the magical qualities of cinema through a variety of stories, usually within folklore or cute colorful fables. He hopes to increase the popularity of international films within the United States through his producing and development efforts. During his time with Group Effort Initiative, Abraham has interned at FilmNation Entertainment, Rideback, and Somesuch. These positions helped Abraham gain further knowledge and passion within the realm of visual storytelling through improving his skills within creative development while at the same time teaching him how to balance this with administrative responsibilities. Through the help of Group Effort Initiative, Abraham was able to thrive at school, find a community of like-minded individuals, and gain valuable experience within the entertainment industry.
AJ Helman was selected as a Boston trainee for production on the movie musical, “Spirited.” Though they had prior experience on student films in college, this was their first professional set. Initially, AJ secured an office role in Set Decoration, but GEI helped in getting them transferred to an on-set position that aligned better with their long-term goals of being a director. In their new role, AJ worked as a Set PA in the AD department, mostly working with sound, first team, and second team to relay information as necessary. AJ’s background in musical theater made this opportunity even more exciting for them, as they had the privilege of watching and learning from Broadway songwriters and actors. After filming wrapped, AJ was offered a full-time position at a local theater, and they are also a day player for other feature films currently filming in the Boston area. GEI gave them the connections, confidence, and growth they needed to jumpstart their career in the entertainment industry.
Alaysha is a social media/ PR intern at AGBO film and television production company. She received her current internship through GEI, but she has a pretty lengthy experience working as a social media intern at other companies. Alaysha recently graduated from College of the Canyons Community College and is planning on transferring to finish her bachelors degree. She really enjoys working in the entertainment industry! One day, she plans on using her experience to become a filmmaker.
Alec is a first generation Asian American graduate from UCLA with a Bachelor's degree in sociology. His professional career in entertainment started in the summer of 2021, the tail end of his college career where GEI helped him secure a development and programming internship at 44 Blue Productions. After a few months of working in food service to support himself, GEI helped him land a full time entry level position as an assistant at 3Arts Entertainment! He hopes to produce his own films and start a production company one day.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Alexa de la Peña recently graduated from UCLA with her Bachelor’s in Communications. With the help of Group Effort Initiative (GEI), she was given the opportunity to be a research intern at the Latino Donor Collaborative, a nonprofit organization dedicated to confronting negative stereotypes of Latinx in film/television. With this experience, she understands the importance of diversity in entertainment and wants to continue to advocate for more and better representation. She also interned at Writ-Large, a literary management company, where she did script coverage and was also the On-Set Recruitment & Placements intern for GEI, through which she had the opportunity to work with LA Collab, a group aiming to accelerate Latinx visibility in entertainment. After studying acting and film at UCLA, Alexa is currently pursuing her passion in theatre and is dedicating her time to her onstage performances. In the future, she hopes to be put in a position where she can help push for more representation and help creative voices be heard. She is extremely grateful for GEI for providing opportunities to learn and grow.
Alexis Urbina is a 20-year-old Latino college student with a passion for filmmaking both in the creative and business sense. He got a placement at Curate Literary Management Firm as an intern. As an aspiring actor, Alexis has benefited greatly from internship opportunities provided by GEI that not only helped him meet inspiring people within the industry but also gained knowledge as to what it's really like to be behind the scenes of creative projects. De-mystifying the world of filmmaking has been a critical experience for Alexis in gaining even more motivation to pursue a career in entertainment.
Aline Lino is a filmmaker and film editor originally from Brazil. She was referred to GEI through Glendale Community College and attended the Annual Bootcamp where she met with folks from one of GEI’s company partners, Narrator Inc. Aline was able to talk about her career aspirations with them and eventually was brought a few weeks later for an interview. From there, she was hired part-time as an intern. This opportunity allowed Aline to work with and learn from active editors and producers. After a few months in her position, alongside completing her college degree, Aline now works full-time as an Assistant Editor at Narrator Inc.
Alixandria Robertson is currently a Camera Utility at Ming Entertainment, and has a lengthy resume working in the camera department as an Assistant Camera with various productions. Through GEI, she landed a production assistant role on season 6 of Paramount Plus’ Seal Team. Now, Alixandria is currently working towards a permanent position in the camera department and becoming a member of Local 600. She plans to one day be a camera operator.
Aljzana Clayton is a first-generation college graduate that joined GEI in 2019. Her experiences of being a student within GEI has helped her start her career in entertainment and has given her opportunities that she wouldn't have had access to otherwise. Working in the industry was always her dream, but breaking into entertainment was extremely difficult as a young Black woman attending community college. After finding GEI, she was able to secure internships with Lionsgate Entertainment, The Recording Academy, Amazon Studios, TBWA/Chiat Day, and All3Media America. Before graduating from USC, she was offered a full-time role at All3Media America as People Coordinator where she currently works.
Between pulling himself out of homelessness amid his education, to their struggles with maintaining their mental health throughout the pandemic, the weight of the noise in Amir Malekpour’s life left little in terms of making stability easier. Especially as a first-generation Iranian-American, let alone filmmaker and artist, sitting in the shadow of cultural expectations of success as an Iranian, without the privilege of wealth that most Iranian-American’s here are afforded. But the opportunities he’s been blessed with through Group Effort Initiative, from interning for Anonymous Content, Somesuch, ABC's How to Get Away with Murder, 44Blue, and Ovrture to being an Office Production Assistant for RadicalMedia and a Production Track Gold Intern for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, has made what he once wrote off as a childhood pipedream, a warm reality.
Andrea Roca is a first-generation, LatinX graduate from CSUN with a passion for connecting people to career pathways in entertainment and fostering inclusive environments for others to thrive. Her past internship at Group Effort Initiative left her feeling eager to empower talent to jumpstart their profession in the early-career space. After months of searching for her first full-time role, she accepted a staff position in Talent Acquisition at NBCUniversal. Every "no” she received motivated her to work harder towards her goal of beginning her career at a company she's admired since childhood. As someone who comes from a background with little resources and connections, Andrea is dedicated to paying it forward to the next generation of leaders in entertainment by keeping the door open.
Angel I. Salinas
Post Production Assistant on Fox/Hulu “The Orville” Season 3
Angel I. Salinas is a first-generation, Chicano filmmaker from Southeast Los Angeles with a B.A. in Media Theory and Criticism. Through Group Effort Initiative, Salinas landed internships at companies like Wise Entertainment, Rideback, and WME and was also one of five GEI participants selected to attend the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Recently, Salinas was placed in the 2020-2021 Disney PA Program through GEI, where he ended up being hired as a Post Production Assistant on Season 3 of Fox/Hulu’s “The Orville”. His short term career goals are to be hired as support staff in a writer’s room, or be staffed and writing episodes of television alongside his writing partner, Sarah Neal Aviles. His long term career goals are showrunning his own shows, writing and directing feature films, and traveling the world.
Angel Tagadtad, also known as Majarlica, is a singer-songwriter and an aspiring filmmaker. She debuted as a director and a screenwriter for her own award-nominated music video. In addition, she has worked as a Production Assistant for multiple productions such as Walt Disney Studios, Netflix, and Pomelo Studio. Through GEI, she received a Production Assistant Placement for a Tim Hortons Commercial at Pomelo Studio. Her goal is to establish herself as a director, screenwriter, and a producer within the film industry - with the intention of sharing stories that capture unique experiences, perspectives, and emotions
GEI helped Angela Park transition from a background in healthcare to working in the film industry. Through the program, she worked as a Set Production Assistant on "Spirited," through which she learned about the film development and production process while making numerous meaningful connections with professionals across the country. As an aspiring writer/director, she plans to focus on writing while continuing to work in film production.
Angelica Placido is a Set Dresser with the I.A.T.S.E. Local 44 Union. She graduated with a B.A. in Entertainment Industry Studies at Belmont University in Nashville, TN before moving to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film production. She started as a special effects technician, working for several years as a mold maker and fabricator in various shops around LA. Angelica joined GEI in 2020 and worked as a Production Assistant in the Art department on the Netflix series, The Woman In The House, and as a Set Dec Production Assistant on the Netflix film, You People. Through the work relationships she built while on these projects, Angelica was able to secure a union position as a Set Dresser with the Local 44 Union. Angelica is extremely grateful to GEI for providing the opportunities to grow and develop a career, and hopes to support and encourage others in pursuing their dreams in production.
Anu Bamidele is a proud Nigerian-American writer, actress, and practiced daydreamer. She’s currently focused on working as a PA in as many different departments, but her ultimate goal is to tell stories that explore identity. Thanks to GEI she was most recently able to work as a PA in the Visual Effects department, on a Netflix feature titled “Back in Action”. Anu would like to thank her on-set team for their willingness to teach her, and GEI for helping grant young artists meaningful opportunities such as this.
Arnika Rahman is a first-generation, Bangladeshi-Muslim, graduate from USC's School of Cinematic Arts. The Group Effort Initiative has helped launch her entertainment career by providing her with the opportunity to intern at DreamWorks Animation, Academy Gold, and the Television Academy Foundation. Arnika landed her first industry job at Walt Disney Television through a connection she made in one of her internships. She is now approaching her one-year anniversary with Disney and thanks GEI for her success. Arnika is extremely grateful to GEI for the skills and opportunities it has provided her. She learned the ins and outs of the entertainment industry through GEI and now gets to apply her knowledge every day at work.
Ashlynn Thompson is a graduate of Kent State University with a B.A. in Fashion Merchandising. In the midst of the pandemic, she moved to LA after landing her first job as a Costume PA on This Is Us. In between her two years on this show, she worked on various other series, films, and a commercial.By the time This is Us wrapped, the GEI program helped place her on a Netflix feature as a Costume PA that aided in her professional development. After this experience, she was finally able to get her days to get into the costumers union (Local 705) at Western Costume.
Brian Pham is a Los Angeles SFV native whose creative gusto drives his passion for the entertainment industry. Locking arms with GEI in 2021 to find an internship for college credit and real-life industry experience led him to Done+Dusted, a production company specializing in Live Television. Along with an extended stay, he was also given an opportunity to work in a team of six other GEI participants to write and produce an animation for Governor Newsom's Cradle to Career Initiative. Maintaining Done+Dusted, the animation, and his last semester of skill taught him the power of boundaries and opened his eyes to what he is truly capable of. After completing a degree in Emerging Media and Gender Women's Studies at California State University, Northridge in December 2021, he asked for a full-time position utilizing his unique skill set of creative conceptualization and was offered a Development Assistant role. Brian now contributes to the exciting expansion of D+D content from Live Television to series.
Wardrobe Department at Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards
Candice Griego was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She has always loved the movies and the entertainment business. Finding the opportunity to work on her first major motion picture, “Bullet Train”, was a dream come true. Her favorite moments were working on the Sony lot, being on set, and meeting so many amazing people. She was truly grateful to grow and learn while having so much fun! Candice is currently working with Nickelodeon's wardrobe department for the 2022 Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards.
Carla Hernandez landed her first job on a film set through GEI, on a NBCUniversal production working as a Production Assistant where she learned how much hard work is involved in creating “movie magic”. Carla started off as a Production Assistant, then was promoted to be the Winnipeg Production Coordinator, where she was able to really understand how film productions work. She’s excited to apply everything she’s learned from this experience into her new journey in filmmaking.
Chelsea René is from Hawthorne, California and an alumna of Grambling State University– a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) located in Louisiana. She obtained her Bachelor of the Arts degree in Mass Communication with a focus on Integrated Journalism. She became a member of Group Effort Initiative (GEI) while in undergrad and the program helped open doors for her throughout and after college. Chelsea obtained an internship at Shondaland on the last season of “How to Get Away with Murder”. She then began her post-grad career at Narrator, Inc– a creative agency located in Los Angeles, where her roles include assisting and creative production. She loves what she does and is eager to continue learning from, and working with, other talented individuals.
Ciara Ray is a recent graduate from Cal State LA with Bachelor of Arts degree in Television, Film, and Media Studies. While at Cal State LA, she produced a social justice documentary and a behind-the-scenes video for a drama featurette. Ciara joined GEI in 2021 and she is humbled and grateful that GEI provided her the opportunity as an intern to gain behind the scenes knowledge of what it takes to advance representation and opportunity in entertainment for underrepresented communities, as well as help her gain an internship with All3Media America and her current role as an Office PA.Ciara’s unique and challenging upbringing inspired her to engage in media and storytelling to authentically amplify voices of those around her. Ultimately, she’s driven to leave behind positive contributions for the world as a producer in entertainment and she is extremely grateful for every individual who’s been along on her journey.
Claudia is a first generation, Latine graduate from Miami University with a Bachelors degree in engineering. Right after graduation, Claudia began working on the set of Netflix’s White Noise as a Special Effects Production Assistant. This opportunity allowed her to learn about how a film is created, understand every department and how they work together which helped her narrow down her career path and make lasting relationships.Claudia is now a member of IATSE 488 specializing in props and special effects. Since White Noise, Claudia has worked on several other productions as a proud union member. Her most recent project being a western shot in Moab, Utah. She thanks GEI and Netflix for granting her the experience of a lifetime and for opening the doors to her career. She also thanks her mentors, colleagues, and friends who have supported her journey in film.
Curtis Jones is a Georgia-based production assistant with experience in the film, TV, and music industries. Since his training at The PA Academy in 2019, Curtis has secured positions as a Walkie PA, working closely with H.H. Cooper on the film, Emergency, and as a Set PA for the film, Honk for Jesus, starring Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown. He has also landed roles as a Key PA, Transportation PA, Locations PA, and Health and Safety Monitor. As he grows in the industry, he is interested in exploring the AD, Cameras, and Costumes departments, but he is ultimately counting his days to submit to join the D.G.A. Curtis landed a Set PA role on a Majestic 9 Films production shortly after joining GEI. He is also currently a participant in the Disney PA Initiative. Excited and optimistic about his future in the industry, Curtis believes there’s no limit to what he can achieve next.
Coordinator, Enterprise Inclusion & Social Responsibility at Banijay Americas
Daniel Rivas is a first-generation, Latinx, Salvadoran, graduate from Cal State LA with a B.A. in Television Film and Media. Through GEI, he secured internships in TV and Film development that helped him build connections and learn essential industry skills. He was then accepted into the Television Academy Foundation's Diversity and Inclusion Internship Program, where he landed an internship at ITV America for Unscripted TV development. However, his search for a full-time position afterward was met with rejections as he applied to 50+ jobs, interviewed for 20+ positions, all while enduring through the pandemic. Daniel eventually took a break from the stress of searching for an entertainment job, and began working for a conservation corps, a fire and fuels reduction crew, and later became a paid, full-time firefighter in a Type-1 Hand-crew with CAL FIRE. Finally, thanks to the guidance and support of GEI, Entertainment Industry Foundation, and the TV Academy Foundation, he finally accepted a Coordinator position at Endemol Shine North America.
David heard of GEI from Gen Networks! He was born and raised in the Bay and jumped at the opportunity. While he’d only done work in reality TV, he was passionate about making the change. The shoot was for Elephant Seals, who nest in the Bay, and the experience was amazing. He was also able to work with an amazing team from London sent by National Geographic! He would like to thank GEI for offering help when times were tough! He was able to connect with a job that boosted his confidence and encouraged him to improve in the future!
David Verba is a passionate filmmaker, composer, animator, storyteller, and artist. In high school, he had the opportunity to participate in the GFS Fellows Program LA, where he learned so much about film, the industry and himself. He found out about GEI through GFS and applied to give him the tools to help navigate a complex industry. He is so grateful to GEI for helping tweak his resume and cover letter, helping find opportunities and apply to them, and so much more. Recently, David earned the opportunity to be a Casting Intern with All3Media, learning how to scout and cast reality show actors. He is also a part of the Emerging Composers Program, learning how to score movies by practicing scoring scenes, sharing feedback, and learning new composing techniques.
Production Assistant at Disney General Entertainment PA Program
Devin Johnson is a production assistant in scripted television. Devin first joined GEI in the fall of 2019. Almost immediately after, she attained her first position in entertainment as an intern at Anonymous Content. From there she continued as a part-time assistant, aiding their top manager, Doug Wald, and assisting Creative Exec, Sahar Kashi. In April 2020, Devin left to focus on her thesis and completed her undergrad in Film and Television production in which she concentrated on the creative entertainment business. She then went on to work for Ron Howard’s Y-simulator startup and Annapurna Pictures. In 2021, Devin was selected by the GEI program for the Disney PA program and that has since launched her career even further. Her hobbies include making music with her friends, learning how to play new instruments, cooking, and exploring different environments.
Diana Balbuena has been a GEI participant since the Fall of 2019. As part of GEI, she has had the opportunity to intern at the Los Angeles Mayor’s Fund, Music Forward Foundation, and the Group Effort Initiative. Interning at these three different locations has introduced her to the different aspects of human resources and the behind-the-scenes work of a company. Thanks to the mentorship and guidance of GEI, Diana is confident she will land a full-time job in Human Resources or Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives in the entertainment industry after graduation. Diana hopes to help others through her work and help minorities make it in the entertainment industry.
Diana is a first-generation college student working towards a degree in film and television media. She was introduced to GEI in the spring of 2022 by the film department at Glendale Community College. Through GEI, Diana was able to secure and internship position on a Netflix feature film called Rebel Moon in the fall of 2022. This was her first on-set experience where she was able to learn several new skills and network with different departments. Diana is eager to continue working in production though she also has a strong interest in editing and post-production and hopes to gain some experience in that as well. Diana is grateful to GEI for the support and resources that have helped her in her journey to becoming a filmmaker.
Motion Picture Literary Assistant at Paradigm Talent Agency
Diego Obregon had a passion for storytelling long before he realized he could pursue a career in entertainment. It wasn’t until his junior year at UCLA, when he joined GEI and landed his first internship at Anonymous Content, that the idea became reality. Inspired by his experiences at Anonymous, he went on to intern at Paradigm Talent Agency, Blumhouse Productions, and Creative Artists Agency while still in school. In 2020, he was selected to attend the Sundance Film Festival in-person with other GEI participants and found encouragement that he was on the right path. He then interned at MACRO before securing a role at Paradigm Talent Agency as a Motion Picture Literary Assistant. He is grateful GEI has supported him as he progresses toward his goal of producing the horror movies he likes to watch.
Production Assistant on ABC’s “Black-Ish” Season 8
Edith Jimenez is a Pacoima-based, first-generation Chicana with a B.A in Multimedia Production from California State University, Northridge. Edith started her career in entertainment by working at a movie theater in Sherman Oaks and editing movie trailers at Adler & Associate Entertainment, when she first came across GEI at the end of 2018. With the career-changing resources GEI provided her, Edith was able to accelerate her career in the right direction. Since her involvement with GEI, Edith has worked on notable shows such as Season 3 of Freeform’s Good Trouble, FOX’s American Crime Story: Impeachment, and the final season of ABC’s Black-Ish.
Even though Edith’s professional career is just getting started, she hopes to become an executive at her own reputable entertainment company, and consult for movies on the side. She aspires to give back to her community by teaching at-risk youth how to tell their own stories through writing and film.
In Erin Collins’s senior year of college, she needed internship experience in entertainment before graduating. She was fortunate enough to find the Evolve Entertainment Fund, now known as GEI. Erin’s first internship was at Innovative Artists Talent Agency where she was mentored by amazing leaders in the Comedy, Talent, and Feature department. Right after graduating, Erin was hired full-time in the mailroom and six months later, promoted to Assistant. After being at Innovative for three years, she decided it was time to transition into a new role and accepted a Department Assistant position at Netflix. Erin is loving her new role and team, and is grateful GEI opened the doors to the entertainment industry for her. She’s at her dream job and couldn't be happier.
Esmeralda Fernandez is in her last year of college at CSUN, and after being hands-on in pre-and post-production while expanding her knowledge in many areas of film, she was still afraid of her future. Esmeralda was afraid that after college, she wouldn’t be able to find her dream job in the film industry or make it in at all. She then joined GEI and was ecstatic to start her journey with them, especially knowing her mom couldn’t be prouder. GEI not only stood by Esmeralda, but made sure her dreams were possible. After interning at Campfire Entertainment and editing an animation for California Governor Newsom, she finally found a position, and her new home, at Narrator Inc. as an Assistant Editor– thanks to GEI!
Streaming Services and Video Ops Coordinator at Viacom/CBS
Genesis Gil is a proud UCLA and GEI alumni who broke into the film and music industry with the help of GEI. She has interned at the talent management company, Scooter Braun Projects, and has worked at companies such as Walt Disney, the Game Show Network, and now currently working at Viacom/CBS. All of these experiences have taught her so much about who she is personally and as a working professional in the industry.
Guadalupe Lazaro is passionate about storytelling, branding, media, and all things communication. She joined GEI her sophomore year at UCLA, and through the program she has secured media internships at MACRO and Latino Donor Collaborative. Lupe is grateful GEI has helped her learn the power of networking, professional development, and landed her media features on ABC7 and Univision. She is currently a full-time Communications Coordinator and part-time grad student at USC Annenberg majoring in Communication Management. She hopes to be a role model for all first-gen Latinos wanting to pursue the media industry.
Haben Araya holds an Associate's Degree in Animation from Santa Monica College. While in school, a friend referred her to Group Effort Initiative, leading Haben to build her networking skills and learn more about the entertainment industry through the program's resources. During her time with GEI, she also interned at Industrial Media, the Academy Gold Rising Program, and Walt Disney Studios which led to her finally achieving her goal of working at Marvel Studios Animation as a Production Assistant. Thanks to GEI, she has expanded her network and plans to continue to connect with many people in the entertainment industry.
Freelance Production Assistant at 44 Blue Productions
Jackelyn Santiago is a Los Angeles native and creative that pushes herself to create opportunity and community. Content Creator and Media Predator are just two hats Jackelyn wears. GEI has developed creative bridges for her to gain access and opportunities beneficial to her career. Attending professional events, locking down seasonal internships, and freelance opportunities, Jackelyn has maximized her time with GEI. From being a graphic design intern with New Cadence Productions to graphic design and marketing work with LA Collab and Outfest Film Festival, she has grown her portfolio well enough to land her current role as a freelance PA at 44 Blue Productions.
Corporate Social Responsibility at The Walt Disney Company
Jackie Martinez began her journey with GEI, then the Evolve Entertainment Fund, in the summer of 2019. Since then, she's been able to work for groups from small nonprofits to Fortune 50 companies all at the nexus of social impact and entertainment. Through GEI, she has been able to meet friends and mentors that have helped her land dream roles and currently works in Corporate Social Responsibility at The Walt Disney Company.
International Programming and Development Assistant at AMC Networks
Jennie Ekpa has been a GEI participant since 2019. As a part of the program, she has had the opportunity to intern at Powderkeg Media, Comedy Central, FilmNation, and NBC Entertainment, exposing her to various aspects of the entertainment industry, including film and television development and casting. With the support and guidance of GEI, she recently landed a role as an Assistant in AMC Networks International Programming and Development Department. Jennie's long-term goal is to work in television development, where she plans to uplift the voices and stories of people from her community.
Development Assistant at Ubisoft Film and Television
Jennifer Morgan is a first-generation, Filipina-Arab American born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. In her time working in entertainment, she has gained a deep passion for disruptive storytelling and creative development. With a degree in Film & Media from MSMU, Jennifer works at the intersection of media and social justice. As a student, she served a term as President of Women in Film and Media and received the Excellence in Leadership Award upon graduation. With the support of GEI, Jennifer has had a fruitful professional career across production and development, taking on roles as a Director’s Assistant, Production Assistant, and Production Secretary for projects such as School for Good & Evil, Me Time, and Love Hard. Most recently, Jennifer has accepted a full-time role at Ubisoft’s Film and Television department as a Development Assistant. In this position, she works closely with two Executive Producers to bring projects like Mythic Quest and Assassin’s Creed to the screen.
Jessica LeBron has been a GEI participant since May 2022. Over the summer, she met her GEI peers at a Disney Resume Review event. After working with a recruiter at Disney on my resume, she was confident in what the GEI team would send to companies on her behalf. Through a GEI resume submission, she secured a development internship at Maximum Effort Productions, which perfectly aligns with her professional goal of becoming a creative executive. She has been at Maximum Effort since, and has gained invaluable experience that will help her job candidacy once she graduates in May.
Jesus Garcia is a Latinx LA native and first-generation college graduate that joined GEI in early 2022. He earned his BA in Television, Film and Media Studies from Cal State University Los Angeles. Post-graduation, he has undertaken various working roles on short films, music videos, and even an independent feature film. GEI has helped him take his career to new professional heights by giving him the opportunity to work at Anthony and Joe Russo’s independent production company, AGBO. Currently, the studio is in the post-production phase of an Amazon Prime original titled “CITADEL.” There, Jesus lends his aid as a Post-Production Assistant for the up-and-coming show. He continues to make strides as a filmmaker in hopes to instill real change and POC inclusion/portrayal in media and entertainment.
Joanne Yue is a San Diego native and UC Santa Barbara alum with a double major in Film & Media Studies and Environmental Studies. Passionate about physical production, she has worked on numerous scripted and documentary projects in various roles. Through GEI, she became a Production Trainee on “Bullet Train” and had the opportunity to work with background and cast. While completing her cast duties, she collaborated with many departments like visual effects, publicity, and stunts. She learned so much from this exceptional crew and carried this knowledge to her current position in Physical Production at Lionsgate TV. She enjoys working in production from the studio side and looks forward to returning to set one day as a Producer-Director hyphenate.
A lover of visual storytelling, Jocelyn is a film graduate from California State University Long Beach. Her background involves documentary shorts with a focus on family portraiture and editing. Jocelyn is currently working in animation production at Nickelodeon, and was previously at DreamWorks. She has recently delved into animatic editing.
John Dayot is a Filipino-born artist originating from Zamboanga City, Philippines but raised in the heart of Los Angeles, California. Through filmmaking, John wants to express his creative visions to inspire others that anything is possible as long as your full heart is in your work. Recently, he's finished an internship at Rideback Ranch which is a production company most notably known for producing: The LEGO Movie, Aladdin, and Jokoy's recent Netflix Special: Easter Sunday. Moving forward, John hopes to continue experimenting with different forms of art such as film and sound to further push the boundaries of storytelling.
Juliá Perez-Chavez received her Bachelor’s Degree in Cinema and Television Directing from Columbia College Hollywood. After graduation, she utilized the resources she gained from GEI and networked throughout her small town. Although opportunities initially appeared limited, she exceeded her own expectations. Thus far, she has directed and created videos aimed at Hispanic and Latinx communities for the County Public Health Office, filmed a campaign for a District Representative, and collaborated with an outreach program to amplify their voices through videos, all while staying true to her Mexican-American heritage. A fan of telling real-life stories, Julia has created a documentary with her family and shot a music video over the last year. Being a GEI participant has helped her gain experience and confidence in the entertainment industry. Her passion as a storyteller has kept her driven and motivated to keep on creating, and she thanks GEI for all the support and experience.
The daughter of Vietnamese refugees, Julie Phan developed her passion for filmmaking as an outlet for storytelling. While attending Santa Monica College, Julie started her career in entertainment through public relations internships at Impact24 PR and NBCUniversal, the former of which earned her a full-time position. She has also interned in production at Native Content, and in development at Roddenberry Entertainment and Rebelle Media. Currently, Julie is part of the Disney General Entertainment PA Program and is working as an Art PA for the 4th season of Freeform's “Good Trouble”.
Production Assistant on Paramount+ "The Good Fight"
From Detroit to New York, Kaylin Lavena Reed has taken a leap of faith to build a career in the entertainment industry. After receiving her A.A. in Acting, TV, & Film from The New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts, she took on roles onstage and behind the camera, until she finally discovered a new side to her love for storytelling– the production process. She began freelancing as a Production Assistant for TV, film, and events, while getting involved with organizations like Ghetto Film School, which ultimately led her to Group Effort Initiative. Since joining GEI, Kaylin has evolved, landing her first TV credit working on Paramount Plus' The Good Fight as a production assistant, then relocating from NYC to Los Angeles. She hopes to continue expanding her knowledge of the creative storytelling world as she pursues a path towards becoming an Executive Producer.
Camera Utility - International Cinematographers Guild
Keenan Kimetto worked as a Camera Production Assistant on the Apple TV+ Production “Spirited” in Boston. He was brought in through GEI during the summer, where he was able to learn all about the different positions within the camera department. It was his first time on-set, which made it a growing experience for him as he balanced speed and accuracy, while working alongside Camera Operators, Directors, Producers, Cast, and numerous department heads. During production, he was also promoted to being an additional Digital Utility. This led to even more on-set opportunities once production wrapped, allowing him to build on his knowledge of the camera department. Since then, Keenan has worked on a documentary by COMPLEX for legendary Celtics player Bob Cousy as a 2nd Camera Assistant and as a Digital Utility on the film “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” focusing on the story of Whitney Houston’s life. Most recently, Keenan secured a membership with the International Cinematographers Guild (ICG) as a part of the Local 600 chapter.
Kevin Chin was hired by Narrator as a Production Assistant, and now works as an Accounting Assistant to work with the company's payroll and budgets. Prior to working with Narrator, GEI helped place Kevin in an internship with FilmNation and in on-set production assistant opportunities through Streetlights.
Kiara González Durán
International Scripted Television Assistant at Creative Artists Agency
Kiara González Durán joined GEI during her senior year at UCLA while double majoring in International Development Studies and Chicano Studies. Following her first entertainment internship at MACRO, Kiara landed internships at UNCMMN and CAA through GEI, the latter of which educated her on media representation of BIPOC narratives within domestic and global contexts. Post-graduation, Kiara worked as a Business Affairs Assistant at Endeavor Content, before transitioning to her current job at CAA to become an assistant in the International Scripted Television Department. She is working toward a career as a television producer for Latin American content and looks forward to empowering women around the world throughout her personal and professional path.
Kimberly Vanegas graduated with her Bachelor's in Film, Media, & Social Justice from Mount Saint Mary's University. She has been with Group Effort Initiative since 2018, when she was just a Junior in College. Since then, she has worked for companies such as Dreamworks, Disney, Fox, Hulu, ABC, and Warner Brothers for multiple shows. Currently, she is working at Nickelodeon Studios as a Production Coordinator for the Production Management Department. Kimberly's goal is to become an Executive or President for a company in the Entertainment Industry because she would like to bring more Diversity & Inclusion in Animation or Live-Action for everyone worldwide to enjoy!
Layla Keyes-Renaud first joined GEI as a trainee for “The Adam Project." She initially began in the paint/construction department and loved the rewarding work and connections she was able to make within that department. However, due to finishing her last round of Chemo only a couple months prior, she found this particular department to be slightly toxic and difficult physically. She then reached out to a Mr. Dean Eilertson, the Property Master on “The Adam Project,” and was fortunate enough to have him take her on as a trainee. While under his watchful eye and plethora of experience, Layla was able to adapt and learn more than she expected in her short time with him. He was extremely helpful, full of engaging feedback and advice on career moves. She remembers beginning on-set and being slightly terrified, yet also optimistic of what lay ahead. Though it was uncharted territory, she made some lasting memories and connections that only furthered her confidence in the cinematic field. Though Layla wants to pursue more work in the future, COVID restrictions have caused delays in her journey in the film industry, but she hopes opportunities like this continue to exist for future GEI participants as they transition into the industry.
Leslie Montoya is a young Chicana chasing a dream in entertainment. After going to CSU Northridge and getting kicked out her first year, something kept her focused on her dream– she received an email to apply for GEI. She applied, completed the interview process, got into the program, and within two months landed her first internship as a Publicist Assistant at Revry TV/Potent PR. She knew she had to continue her education in order to succeed in entertainment, so she attended Santa Monica College then transferred to CSU Los Angeles. Wanting to expand her knowledge within the industry, she dove into internships at non-profits like Latino Donor Collaborative, social media companies like SUMA Wealth, and PR agencies like MPRM Communications. Thanks to GEI, she had the honor and privilege to visit Disney Studios in Burbank, Netflix Headquarters in Hollywood, and Wasserman Sports Agency in Westwood to learn and gain insight on the various opportunities in the industry. Now that she knows what the business side of entertainment looks like, she is inspired to one day sit in a C-Suite and inspire the next generation to never give up on their dreams.
Loni LeBlanc, whose Haida name is Gahlandaay Dlaang, is from Skidegate, Haida Gwaii and is of the Naa S’aagas Xaaydagaay Eagle Clan. Loni is a graduate of the Global Makeup Artistry Program at Blanche Macdonald Centre in Vancouver, Canada and since then, has been in the makeup industry for ten years. Loni was honored to be hired as a part of the first batch of GEI trainees for “The Adam Project” in the Makeup department under Monica Huppert. Since then, Loni has been living in Vancouver studying 3-D animation, visual effects, and game design at Think Tank Training Centre.
Lourdes has spent her whole life in the greater Los Angeles area. Going to school for Screenwriting at California State University, Northridge gave her the tools she needed to explore her creative side. During her junior year, she became a member of Evolve Entertainment Fund, now known as Group Effort Initiative. Through the program, she was able to complete six internships varying across the entertainment and writing world. It is with one of her internships, We Are Suma, that she now holds a full-time role as a Project Coordinator, where she manages website article content and search engine optimization (SEO). Lourdes is extremely grateful to GEI for helping her put her best foot forward as she makes her way into the workforce.
Mahelet Gezachew is a young Angeleno and first-generation college student from Los Angeles, with a degree from San Francisco State University in Communication Studies and a minor in Africana Studies. With a burning passion for storytelling, she was welcomed to GEI (then known as the Evolve Entertainment Fund) in 2018, interning with Anonymous Content as their Activism Intern, and then later with Hello Sunshine as their Film & TV Development Intern. Since then, she's worked for Disney and now ARRAY, as a Creative Executive. She is thankful for all of the opportunities and mentorship thus far.
Maria Luisa Ballon became a GEI participant right before she graduated from the University of Southern California’s Film and Television Production program. Through GEI, Maria landed development internships at Anonymous Content and Hunting Lane. When she decided to change career paths back in 2020, GEI helped her secure an internship with Narrator, Inc., a full-service creative agency. Maria improved her design skills and worked her way up to becoming a motion designer at the company. Maria is now looking to advance her knowledge in animation and 3D design.
Assistant to EVP & SVP of International TV Distribution at MGM Studios
Matt Bui is a recent graduate from UCLA with a B.A. in History and Minor in Entrepreneurship and has been a GEI participant since the Fall of 2020. Ever since joining the initiative, he has been able to secure multiple roles within Fremantle and NBCUniversal, while also participating in the Academy Gold Rising program. Each of these experiences has helped him broaden his network and gain mentors, as well as expose him to the various fields within entertainment such as production, distribution, and streaming. With guidance from the GEI team throughout these extraordinary times, he has been able to navigate the industry and figure out his early career plan and long-term goals, which include supporting and uplifting diverse voices throughout his journey. Thanks to GEI, Matt has recently accepted a full-time offer to join MGM Studios as an Assistant to the EVP and SVP of International TV Distribution, where he will be supporting the administrative, contracts, and sales teams in their day-to-day work.
Wardrobe Background Coordinator on Apple TV+'s "Jubilee"
Melissa Fairclough has always wanted to work in the film industry, specifically working with and designing clothes. While pursuing a double major in Costume and Cinema and Media Studies at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, she worked on a total of six theater productions in the costume department. Melissa then became a part of GEI, where she worked as a trainee on The Adam Project. Her experience has lended her opportunities on the CBC Canada shows Pretty Hard Cases and TallBoyz as a wardrobe assistant. Currently, Melissa is working as the Wardrobe Background Coordinator on the Apple TV+ children show Jubilee. Her hands-on learning experience has focused on garment construction including, sewing, tailoring, drafting and design. Through her many roles, Melissa has gained meaningful set experience working with amazing designers, and hopes to become a Costume Designer herself someday.
Originally from Victoria, Texas, Michael James Nuells is a graduate of Northwood University with a degree in Entertainment, Sports, and Promotions Management. Michael found an outlet for his creativity through the lens of entertainment, both in front of and behind the camera, taking on roles in departments including casting, costumes/wardrobe, and production, while even working as a credited actor, commercial model, and TV personality. After joining GEI in 2020, Michael's presence continued to soar with more opportunities working for several TV and film productions like "The Woman in the House" for Netflix, "MasterChef" on Fox, and "Mayans M.C." on FX. Additionally, Michael’s relationship with GEI has afforded him new, budding ones with The Disney General Entertainment Program (DGE PA) & Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF). Being the change he wants to see in the world is not just words on a screen, but his life's work crossing all boundaries and barriers in the entertainment industry. Michael is grateful for the exposure GEI has afforded him and looks forward to continuing his relationship and career with GEI as they work together to transform the world’s palette.
Originally from Washington D.C. Milan Kinnemore moved out to California in the summer of 2013 and is currently a senior in her final semester at California State University, Northridge. Milan has a passion for filmmaking, specifically production, and through GEI, she has gotten the opportunity to intern at companies such as Lionsgate, Women in Film, Intellectual Property Corporation, Amazon Studios, and Apple TV+. Through these internships, she has developed an understanding of the professional entertainment industry and her specific path. Milan has long-term goals to create her own production company and host a TED Talk.
Montserrat Ruiz was born and raised in Los Angeles, with a passion for animation, special effects, early coding, and illustration, which brought her interests into the entertainment industry. First joining when GEI was Evolve Entertainment, looking for opportunities, led her to working for LA Collab, an initiative created by Beatriz Acevedo and Ivette Rodriguez, and an animation for Governor Newsom's, Cradle to Career. The skills gained from these internships has assisted Montserrat in working on production projects, Although in her early stages of her career, she continues to look for more opportunities to learn. She now studies English and Animation at Los Angeles City College, transferring in the fall to California State University Long Beach.
Charitable Partnerships Coordinator at Music Forward Foundation
Nalini Jones is a St. Louis native who packed her bags to move across the country to pursue her dreams. Since childhood, Nalini has aspired towards a career that cultivates diversity, uplifts others, and allows her to tap into her creative side. A lifelong lover of music and serving others, the Arizona State graduate is passionate about how music creates shared experiences, influences emotions, and brings people together. Through GEI, Nalini secured an internship at Music Forward Foundation, leading to a part-time Education Project Coordinator position, until she landed her current role as Charitable Partnerships Coordinator. Jones looks forward to her new journey with Music Forward, and is especially excited to help students translate their passions into professions while advancing to achieve her long-term goal of working in A&R.
Neyom Friday is a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. She is a writer and novelist who focuses on telling stories about the Native female experience. After joining Group Effort Initiative in February 2022, Neyom began working as a Scanner Technician with Annapurna Pictures. As a storyteller with a profound love for cinema, she is interested in exploring how the matriarchal indigenous women overcomes and triumphs in life through feature films and television shows.
Foundation Department Assistant at Creative Artists Agency
Nicole Yim is a GEI alumna of four years. Having interned for NFL Media and ReKon Productions through GEI, Nicole joined Creative Artists Agency as a full-time Foundation Department Assistant after graduating in May 2021. Nicole believes that the guidance and opportunities of GEI truly opened the doors to numerous experiences which allowed her to a career in the entertainment industry.
Nish Joshi attends the University of Manitoba for Filmmaking. Movies were a major part of his life from a young age, and informed his belief that storytelling is an orchestra of visuals and emotions. He wished to learn more and improve in his craft, so getting the opportunity to work on a feature film set through GEI not only taught him so much, but felt like he was a kid in a candy store. Nish learned how an actual production functions, and what type of planning and coordination it takes to tell stories on a large scale. He also networked with many great individuals he'll be working with again on his own projects in the near future. Nish is sure this experience has opened many doors and jump-started his storytelling career, and he thanks GEI for this opportunity.
Niya Butler was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with a passion for storytelling and is currently a senior at Louisiana State University pursuing a B.A. in Screen Arts with a concentration in Production. Jump starting her career in television, she joined WarnerMedia to intern with their TV Alternative Production team. Following this, she was given the opportunity to work with the Producers Guild of America and NBCUniversal. Each of these opportunities have helped her to broaden her horizons within production while gaining mentors to help her navigate her way through the industry. Thanks to GEI, Niya has recently joined the Academy Gold Rising Program and is interning with Paramount as a TV Production intern where she will continue to connect with many people and gain a better understanding of where she wants to take her career.
Born and raised in Montréal (Cartierville, if you ever ask her) Nuha Elidrissi is a reflection of the vibrant city she calls home. She brought her environment and colorful universe on the road by exploring Vancouver until she landed a production assistant role on Netflix’s “The Adam Project”, assisting production designer Claude Paré. Quickly after, she joined the “Peter Pan” Disney production team, under the Production Design mentorship of Jade Healy. After her time spent on the west coast, she returned to Montréal where she took the lead position as the production designer of Radio Canada’s web series “La Base”. Nuha also assisted the art direction of Cannes-nominated fiction series “Sans Rendez-Vous,” and worked on both corporate and government ads.
Obinne Onyeador is an LA Native currently working in unscripted entertainment. She was referred to GEI through a previous participant and the opportunities she has had access to since have changed her career. Graduating college with no connections in the entertainment industry and seeing the barriers to entry-level positions was discouraging, but through GEI she landed her first experience in Casting at ABC. She gained a wealth of knowledge and friends through the experience, which prepared her for her current position as a Coordinator in Current Programming at All3Media America. Not only has GEI been an advocate for her success, but the tangible knowledge she gained from their programming remains invaluable.
Director/AD Team Trainee on Netflix's "The Adam Project"
Olympia Okonmah was a part of the GEI pilot program on the Vancouver set for “The Adam Project.” Her time on set was revolutionary, to say the least: being able to work closely with the Director and Assistant Director, while falling in stride with the crew. She balanced multiple responsibilities and built strong connections to ensure she met her goal of being invaluable to the production from start to finish. In her opinion, she was able to do just that. Since her opportunity with GEI, she has landed jobs on other sets for studios such as Amazon and Netflix. She has maintained the same mindset she has had since “The Adam Project”— refusing to be anything less than invaluable on every production she sets foot on.
Parveen Kang was able to secure a Production Assistant position within the VFX department of “The Adam Project” through GEI. During her time on set, Parveen was able to adapt to working in an office setting alongside producers as well as understand the mechanics of life on set. She was able to assist in managing communications within the Visual Effects department and function smoothly as a member of the crew. Since wrapping up on this project, Parveen has been able to explore the endless possibilities of working in the world of entertainment. Recently, she assisted the producers of the Canadian film “Wildhood” and worked as the Festival Coordinator, during the film’s Canadian premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Randall Praylow is a production assistant and a United States service member. His background includes developing operational tactics and procedures to enable a smooth and efficient work environment on- and off-duty. While pursuing new opportunities outside of the military in 2021, Randall came across the City of Atlanta’s Set South Production Assistant Training Program. He was one of 30 people selected for the training course from a pool of over 700 applicants and, upon graduating, quickly began exploring jobs in production. Not long after his first PA role, Randall was referred to GEI, which gave him more access to the production world. Within his first month as a participant, he was hired on Season 3 of Fox’s LEGO Masters, and recently wrapped a successful four-month placement as Set Production Assistant. Randall is a team player and a strong asset for his community, with the core values of honor, courage, and commitment. He stands on the foundation that with a bit of hard work, determination, and GRIT, nothing can deter him from making waves in the entertainment industry.
Production Assistant on FX’s “Mayans M.C.” Season 4
Ruben Garcia is a writer born and raised in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles. After graduating with a Screenwriting B.F.A. from Columbia College, Ruben accepted a full-time position with Apple as an Apple TV+ Development Intern. Ruben then joined as a creative intern for Zoe Saldana’s digital media platform, BESE, where he was able to work with creatives from around the world. Over the span of his career with GEI, and other programs such as Entertainment Industry Foundation Careers Program, Ruben secured opportunities with companies like Paramount Pictures, Walt Disney Television Studios, and EROS:STX Entertainment. Additionally, Ruben helped write and collaborate on numerous short films that are actively in the festival circuit. This year, he is working as a production assistant for the 4th season of FX’s Mayans M.C. Ruben is thankful for the knowledge and experiences gained through programs like GEI, and is confident he will one day be leading a project of his own for a major streamer or studio.
Samantha De La Torre is a multifaceted creative born and raised in Los Angeles who earned a Bachelor's Degree in Film, Media, and Social Justice at Mount Saint Mary’s University. Samantha joined GEI during her sophomore year of college and has since interned at entertainment and media companies such as The Recording Academy, Universal Music Group, and Revry TV. Her roles in marketing and digital outreach has allowed her to further explore her passion for content strategizing, designing, and visual documenting. Samantha is currently the Junior Social Media Manager for Pa'lante! HBOMax, an initiative that celebrates and uplifts multi-hyphenated Latin experiences through storytelling. Samantha is very grateful for the unforgettable experiences she encountered during her internships and for the doors that GEI opened for her career.
Sebastian Meza is a Junior Editor at Narrator Inc. Born and raised in Los Angeles, he pursued his goal of becoming an editor after graduating as a first-generation Latinx from CSUN. In the midst of the pandemic, he joined GEI, where he received help applying to opportunities to finally become a part of the industry. Through GEI, he landed his current full-time position at Narrator. He has now worked behind the scenes for various features in post production, most recently including Scream (2022), The Matrix Resurrections (2021), and an Upcoming Universal project.
Sydni Gift is a fourth year student at California State University, Long Beach, set to graduate in May 2023. She is a journalism major with two minors in film and political science. Sydni started her career out writing political articles for a non-partisan news outlet in Orange County, California. She then moved on to filming ESPN+ broadcasts for CSULB. Artistry and film has always been a huge part of her life, and with the help of GEI, she has been able to secure an internship at CNN in their Original Series and Talent Developmentdepartment where she will undoubtedly learn more about the film industry and have a better understanding of where she wants to take her career.
Sylvia Moreno is a GEI alumna, class of 2019, that landed an internship with one of our partners, Univision Communications. Sylvia’s internship prepared her to secure a full time role with United Talent Agency and now Warner Media as an Associate Recruiter. Along with the experience at Univision, Sylvia received great advice and guidance from her career coach and the workshops available through this foundation.
Taylor Lewis has a background in editing for advertising and a wide range of experience in the disabled community. Taylor’s all about removing barriers and creating opportunities. He’s spoken at festivals on how we can more authentically represent disability on screen and also does disability content consulting to ad agencies and nonprofits. When Taylor’s not sitting at his computer editing or writing, you’ll find him in the great outdoors. He is currently an Editorial PA on Netflix’s “Rebel Moon.”
Tiana Perez is hardworking and extremely passionate about working in the entertainment industry. She learned through her immigrant family values that discipline and hard work equate to success and a plethora of opportunities. Recognizing that her passion for this industry would require intensive flexibility and networking, she began her journey of working in entertainment as a high school freshman. While maintaining a part-time job and multiple internships, she acquired three Associate Degrees by the end of her high school career. She then fast-tracked her college career by graduating with her Bachelor of Science in Marketing Management from Cal Poly Pomona in just two years. Ambitious about her next steps, she reached out to current GEI participants and was eventually referred to the program. While accessing GEI's resources, she was referred to an opportunity at AGBO. Thanks to GEI's resources and her extensive networking, she is now a full-time production assistant at AGBO. In addition to working full time, she is also a first-generation Mexican and Filipino Graduate student attending the University of Southern California for her Master of Arts in Public Relations and Advertising. She thanks her family for all of their support while pursuing her dream of working in entertainment. She is extremely grateful for GEI's advice, guidance, and opportunities. With her experiences in the industry, she aims to be a catalyst supporting and advocating for fellow minorities in entertainment.
GEI participant Tinsae Yimer has attended multiple GEI events regarding resume and interview building, panels, workshops, and boot camps. Because of these events, Tinsae has formulated her skills and honed in on the fields that tap into her interests. She has recently acquired an internship with Creature Films/eOne!
Yasmeen El-Nagar is a Egyptian-Chinese American who grew up in Maryland and Dubai before attending Boston University’s Film and Television program. She began her journey with the GEI in the summer of 2022 and is grateful for the initiative leading her to her first professional job in the television industry. Yasmeen has worked as an art department production assistant at Netflix and on a variety of independent film and TV projects since moving to New York City. She intends to continue pursuing her long-term goals of being a director and producer as she develops her skillset in filmmaking.