EXCLUSIVE: Twenty women of color from the film and TV sectors have formed The Reel Divas, a group that aims to promote black writers, producers and directors and increase awareness of Atlanta as a production hub.
Among the women spearheading the group are actresses Jasmine Guy (A Different World) and Terri J. Vaughn (The Steve Harvey Show), writer-producer Cas Sigers-Beedles (Hamlet & Hutch), producers Tamra Simmons (Surviving R. Kelly) and Wanda Shelley (Being Bobby Brown), and writer-director Rhonda Baraka (Pride & Prejudice: Atlanta). (See the full list of members below.)
“With our brother-in-film, Tyler Perry, getting so much acclaim for opening his 330-acre lot here in Atlanta, we feel that the time is now,” said Sigers-Beedles, co-creator of the group. “Atlanta has already served as the home base and mecca for a lot of TV and film projects, so we are doing our part to continue pushing this narrative to the masses.”
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After Georgia signed the controversial Heartbeat Bill earlier this year, the group points out it wants to “advocate for the rights of women in TV and film, especially in situations like these.”
“We are mothers, wives and daughters, but we are also the writers, producers and directors of southern Hollywood,” said co-creator Ty Johnston-Chavis, founder of the annual Atlanta Pitch Summit. “We are all consistently working, either in development, production or post-productions – and we are here to stay.”
Despite objections from studios such as Netflix and Disney over Georgia’s new abortion legislation, the state remains a prominent film and TV location thanks to shooting incentives and infrastructure including Pinewood Atlanta and the Tyler Perry Studios. The Walking Dead, Stranger Things, Ant Man and Captain America: Civil War are among major productions to have shot in the state in recent years.
The Reel Divas group members:
Jasmine Guy, Actress and director
Denise Hendricks – Producer
Terri J. Vaughn – Actress, director and producer
Gieva Stinchcomb – Producer
Star Smith — Line producer
Lisa “Captain” Cunningham – Writer, producer and director
Wanda Shelly – Executive producer
Autumn Bailey Ford – Producer
Angi Bones – Executive producer and director
Samantha Ramirez-Herrera — Content creator
Deborah Riley Draper — Director and brand consultant
Shante Paige — Producer
Ty Johnston-Chavis –- Producer
Cas Sigers-Beedles – Writer, producer and director
Dianne Ashford – Producer
Tamra Simmons – Executive producer
Rhonda Baraka – Writer and director
Tammy Garnes – Producer an actress
Wendy Eley Jackson – Writer and producer
Angela Barnes Gomes, Writer and director
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