2021 Mentees

_______

A program created to provide access and opportunity to Black Women beginning and growing in their entertainment careers. A curated one-on-one and group mentoring experience with senior-level entertainment industry executives from The Walt Disney Company, FX, National Geographic, and Fandango puts Mentor Circle mentees in the driver’s seat of their career to create knowledge, access, community, equity, and service opportunities. As part of the program, Mentor Circle mentees receive access to free career development workshops and networking opportunities with peer-to-peer teams who serve as accountability partners and friends. 




Brooklynne Hart


2021 Mentee

Maya McKenzie
 
Maya A. McKenzie, Esq. graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Alabama State University in 2013. During her time at Alabama State, she served as Chief Golden Ambassador, Chapter President of the Beta Eta Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Chief Justice of the Student Government Association, and a member of Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Business Fraternity, Inc. and the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge Quiz Bowl Team. After graduating from Alabama State, she worked as a Legal Fellow at Munger, Tolles & Olson, LLP in Los Angeles, California and as a legal assistant with MABAM Entertainment supporting the production of an independent documentary on Nigeria. Ms. McKenzie earned her Juris Doctor degree from Georgetown University Law Center in 2017, where she served as a Student Attorney for the Georgetown Law Social Enterprise and Nonprofit Law Clinic and Academic Chair of the Georgetown Black Law Students Association. She was awarded the Lloyd M. Johnson Scholarship by the Minority Corporate Counsel Association. Ms. McKenzie was also recognized with the Pro Bono Scholar
Award for her pro bono work through the Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts and Bread for the City.

She is currently an associate at DLA Piper, LLP in Atlanta, Georgia where she counsels multi-national corporations on data privacy regulatory and transactional matters. She also serves as policy counsel for a coalition of leading technology, retail, media, telecommunications, automobile, and payment card companies promoting the common business interests of its members in the privacy and cybersecurity sectors. Ms. McKenzie maintains an active pro bono practice through partnership with the American Civil Liberties Union, Pro Bono Partnership of Atlanta, and WeCanVote.

She is also an active member of both the central Alabama and Atlanta communities as a Board Member of Unite, Inc., a nonprofit which provides academic support and mentorship to high school
students in central Alabama and students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) across the country and a member of the Atlanta Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Ms. McKenzie is also an active member of Ebenezer Baptist Church (Atlanta, GA).
Monique Parks
 

Monique currently coaches and supports a cohort of first-year and second-year corps members in Delano,Lost Hills, and Stockton to be highly effective educators as well as managing AmeriCorps and taking lead on logistics for corps programming events. Monique is a firm believer in educational equity and is passionate and committed to the work of fighting injustices in and outside of the classroom. She joined Teach For America as a 2017 California Capital Valley corps member and served as a founding first grade teacher in Lost Hills, California where she brought joy and energy into her classroom each and every day. Monique graduated from Howard University with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Administration of Justice. Originally from Roanoke, Virginia, today Monique is proud to call the California home. In her free time Monique enjoys hiking, watching animal docs, and cooking and eating.  

 Noelle Hughley
 

Growing up, Noelle has always been a free spirit with a genuine presence. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, on January 15, Noelle shares the same birthday as the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Founders' day. Noelle's mom always believed that there was something special about her that the world needed to see and enrolled her in modeling classes to bring her out of her shy shell. At the age of 5, Noelle began her modeling career, where she worked with notable brands such as Saks, Family Dollar, and Kodak.

As a graduate of Lindenwood University with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Mass Communications, Noelle has accomplished being a multi-talented entertainment journalist, producer, radio personality, and influencer. After graduation, the promising media phenom hit the ground running by working and hosting on-camera events such as the blockbuster premiere of Alita: Battle Angel, the grand opening of Tyler Perry Studios, the HBO screening of Euphoria, the REVOLT Summits, Rolling Out, and recently The Shadow League Awards.

When Noelle is not in Atlanta, hosting the hottest urban entertainment events or spending time with family and friends. Noelle is in Brooklyn strengthening her legal studies, traveling the world, mastering the game of chess, representing multi-million-dollar brands as a professional model, or mentoring young girls in her community. But it all started when she believed God is within HER, and she could not fail that her gifts would never go to waste.

Jasmine Harris
 

Jasmine Harris is a Black Female Filmmaker from Oakland, Ca. She earned my Bachelors of Art in African American Studies and Film Studies at UCLA graduating in 2019. Jasmine is currently an Executive Assistant at Blumhouse Productions. Her goal is to start a multi-faceted co-operative production company. Jasmine believes that the creative spark is special and she gets an incredible feeling of euphoria when we are encountered with something that dares to confront us with the need to think critically. When you finally get an epiphany, like a kernel of something transformative, you’re propelled into a different intellectual space. Jasmine has always considered herself to be a rebel, never fulfilled without intellectual and creative activities, challenged in pursuit of knowledge, working toward a better scenario for her life and her loved ones. My beliefs and motivations are for me to share philosophies and new experiences with others. She has a passion for film, diversity, and progressive politics. The responsibility we all share is to cultivate change through inclusive policies such as building momentum for a vibrant future we all want and deserve to aspire to.

Kortlynn Johnson
 

Kortlynn Jenae’ Johnson is a true multi-hyphenate. She is a host, model, producer, and  comedian currently based in New York City. 

In search for a stage as big as her personality, Kortlynn relocated to New York City in  March 2019. She has since then began her plus-size modeling career, signing with  Dorothy Combs Models in July 2020 and previously modeling with Ashley Stewart,  Cosmo's "The Braid Up" on Snapchat, and other brands. She has also kickstarted her  comedy career. She debuted in her first comedy show in November 2019 and continues  to perform stand up (socially distanced, of course). Kortlynn currently serves as the  Video Production Coordinator at Hearst Digital Media and freelances as a host, recently  interviewing talent in collaboration with BET and Hearst Black Culture. 

Before moving to New York City at 26, Kortlynn worked passionately as a podcaster  and radio personality in her hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana. She helped to create  the “Clearly Misunderstood Podcast,” which has more than 100 published episodes.  Along with her two co-hosts of the show, she headlined the 1st Annual "A Pod  Connection" Podcast Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2018. Kortlynn began her  career in radio as a board operator but was soon promoted to a weekend radio  personality on New Orleans’s leading station for classic R&B, Hot 92.9. In her very own  #BlackGirlMagic way, she balanced her media roles while working full-time as a human  resources specialist for four years.  

Kortlynn is no stranger to making firsts in her field. During her undergraduate career at  Louisiana State University, she helped to launch the first all African-American hosted  news show, “The Hot Spot,” on LSU’s student media network. There, she led a team of  four reporters and also served as a main anchor and producer. “The Hot Spot” went on  to be the most viewed show on Tiger TV in its last year on-air. In addition, she  established herself as the “go-to” female emcee at LSU by hosting several campus  events, including talent shows, pageants, and the 1st “LSU Black Girls Rock” award  show

 

Unique Cooper

I pushed through my first two years of college, and while I made the Dean’s List. I was miserable. I  didn’t understand why until one day as now the coach of the dance team, a light bulb went off. I asked  my girls, “What motivates you? Who do you aspire to be?” After speaking their truths, they asked for  mine. I considered carefully, and I realized that I had been directing all of my energies into the expected  route for success, not the route that fed my soul.  

Outside of school, with a friend, I produce talent show events in disadvantaged high schools in the  Bay area supported by a $40,000 grant. We go into the schools publicize the event, bring Bay Area  artists into the school to perform and then open the performance up to students in spoken word,  dance, fine arts, and voice. The winner in each event receives a thousand dollars.  

I am working at two high schools as an employee of the Richmond school district and mentoring Black  student unions there. These unions provide students a safe space to discuss their feelings and  express their dreams. To date, I’ve helped one student start a clothing line by connecting them with a  mentor, and another start a small business through connections with another mentor. I also coach the  students on college applications and choices.  

I’ve come to realize there is a through line in my life. I have a practical streak that drives me to make  things run well. I love to solve problems and manage challenges expressed in my successfully  producing over ten films throughout college that came in on time and budget. At the same time, I love  to be of service, to my community, and to the world at large. I can’t imagine a life where I am not giving  back. However, now I see that there are ways to change the world and make it a better place using  my artistic eye instead of a purely scientific one.  

I might not be a doctor, firefighter, or astronaut by name, but I certainly embody their characteristics. I  have been a doctor in connecting people, supporting others, and applying remedies to life and film. I  have been a firefighter putting out the fires of obstacles, breaking down barriers, and helping others. I  will forever be an astronaut, finding new paths of life, always reaching higher, and continuously  exploring. And if I could speak to my younger self, I’d tell her she can be all three – that the path may  look different than expected, but she can and will achieve her dreams. 





Courtney Mitchell

 
2021 Mentee

Korri Palmer

Korri Palmer is a Senior Partner at JUV Consulting. At the ripe age of 23, Korri is the middle oldest child who enjoys making corny jokes around her family and listening to The Veggie Tales playlists from time to time. She is from Atlanta, GA by way of Kansas City, KS where she comes from the three biggest family names in town. Inspired by her love for hip hop history and pop culture, you can find Korri watching anything from 90’s classics to Insecure and overanalyzing them all. She believes that although media is becoming more diverse, now it is her duty to inspire others to create/ implement work that caters to the intersectionality of identity. 

Previously, Korri has worked for The Digital Footprint, Safegraph, Starbucks (sweet cream is the best), and Adventure In Black. She is a former Atlanta Posse Scholar for The College of Wooster and Emma Bowen Fellow. She has also written scholarly articles that discuss topics such as Finsta’s, the beauty standards Snapchat filters enforce and cancel culture. Her thesis on Cancel Culture was given the highest grade of Honors and landed her a spot on the panel of American Public Square’s @ Jewell’s event “I Got Canceled, What’s Next?” and NPR radio. 

In her spare time, Korri has a podcast about navigating adulthood and is working on publishing her first poetry book. Let’s chat over coffee about how we can dismantle institutionalized racism, the best skincare routine, and up and coming R&B artists.
 

Mariah Woods

I’m Mariah. I’m 24 and I currently live in Los Angeles, but I’m originally from Chicago, which I will claim over any place I’ve ever lived or will ever live because there’s a certain pride that comes with being from the Southside. My life has always been filled with pride. I’ve spent it surrounded by strong Black women making a way out of no way, spreading joy, and teaching me lessons that I didn’t understand until I was much older. I spent most of my life on the Southside of Chicago, one of the most vibrant, magical, violent, and scarring places I’ve ever belonged to. It has taught me empathy. The things I’ve seen and done have taken me on a journey through so many versions of myself that storytelling comes naturally to me. 

I create work and space for Black women to tell our stories and rewrite the narrative surrounding our existence. 

 

Shelby Wilburn

I'm Shelby! You can typically find me somewhere between being a social butterfly and a cozy homebody. My childhood gift of gab has evolved into a passion for storytelling through different mediums. I enjoy engaging in deep conversations and expanding my perspective while building meaningful relationships. Through listening to others, I feel inspired to reflect and also share those lessons through creative content. My work is rooted in a foundation of humility. Because at the end of the day, we're all human. Throughout my 10-year professional journey, I've had the privilege of gaining experience through incredible opportunities. From agency to in-house advertising and marketing, I’ve collaborated with teams to manage/execute strategic brand campaigns and programs internationally. 

Each experience has laid the foundation for my professional development and also inspired my desire to pivot into media and entertainment. Creative storytelling is my way of breaking barriers and opening minds. Using my journey to bridge connections with people and highlight stories to bring us together. After years of attempting to fit into different boxes, I'm finally accepting the shape of my own. My fundamental desire is to encourage people to find confidence in their individual mold too! I believe in the power of a positive perspective and hope to be a light to others. At the end of the day, I'm just a mellow soul on a mission to make a generational impact. 


 

Deandra Simon

Deandra Simon is a graduate student at Brooklyn College studying Media Studies. A Haitian-American from Queens, New York, recently graduated from John Jay College, where she received her BA in English and African-American Studies. Deandra's journey in media started with her passion for television, public relations, and advertising. She was an IRTS and T. Howard Fellow last summer, growing up, she watched shows like That's So Raven and Smart Guy. Deandra is eager for a future career in becoming a entertainment executive

Connor Kirkpatrick

I am a creative project management assistant for film & scientific animation. I enjoy the logistics of helping teams produce renders and films for the public. To me, a well-organized, color-coded, production spreadsheet is like music to my ears. 

As a child, I wanted to be a meteorologist. At the age of nine Hurricane Ike hit Texas and I witnessed mother nature at her worst extinguishing my meteorology dreams. However, during that time of waiting out the storm, I watched Shrek on our small tv powered by a generator. The end of the DVD had a behind-the-scenes feature on how the film was made and I was fascinated. 

In the following years, I began my successful career in the violin winning awards and playing with members of the Houston Symphony. Still, I knew I never wanted to play professionally (to my parent's disappointment), I wanted to manage and produce visual content for animation! 

I want to help artists and teams produce what's in their heads. And while creating schedules is a fun part of the job, I also strive to understand the human aspect of management. This allows me to cultivate relationships with my artists and build safe environments for creativity. With my experience helping artists, scientists, and creatives, I would be a great addition to your next production or crew!

 






Maureen Martin

2021 Mentee 

Vanecia Stevenson 

Vanecia is a strategic marketing professional with over four years of digital marketing experience developing and implementing campaigns in the retail, travel, and tourism industry. She has been responsible for the strategic planning and execution of email marketing campaigns, social media, marketing communications for clients such as Tractor Supply Company, Delta Air Lines, and DoorDash. 

‘Black people account for about 12% of the U.S. population but occupy only 3.2% of the senior leadership roles at large companies in the U.S. and just 0.8% of all Fortune 500 CEO positions, according to the analysis by the Center for Talent Innovation, a workplace think tank in New York City.’ Vanecia wants to increase that statistic of 3.2% by working to advance her career to take a role as a senior leader in the future. After working on marketing an independent film in her off time, she has found interest in working in the entertainment space. 

Above all, Vanecia’s proven success in achieving marketing goals and objectives and her experience in developing strategic initiatives and plans throughout the marketing cycle has created great opportunities for her in the marketing realm. Vanecia holds a B.A. in Marketing from Kennesaw State University. 

Outside of marketing, she enjoys podcasting, traveling, tennis, and trying out new restaurants.

 

Liltera Williams

A trained wordsmith born to write in Jacksonville, Florida, Liltera R. Williams is an Author, Editor, and Publisher via her company, iWrite4orU. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Florida State University and Master of Arts in Creative Writing for Entertainment from Full Sail University. Acknowledging a deep love for literature, she has self-published six books: 

Amateur Thoughts: A Personal Collection of iWrite Poetry & LRW Quotes Dearly Beloved S.I.S.T.A.S 

Words from the Write Side of My Heart (eBook) 

LIVE YOUR DREAM: How to Set and Accomplish Deadline-Driven Goals 

PEN, PUBLISH, PROMOTE the Write Way (Detailed Guide for Aspiring Authors) LEAP: Motivation for Fearless Living (Digital Workbook) 

Liltera believes that anything is possible with the determined mindset of Effort, Perseverance, and Faith. She passionately served as a High School English Teacher in her hometown for five years. Although she discovered temporary fulfillment in the classroom, she is now focusing on a full-time transition into a writers’ room. 

LIVE YOUR DREAM is her daily motto and #WriterGrind®—a strategic quest to accomplish various writing objectives while striving to conquer the demands of authorship—is her trademarked movement.

 

Maya Reese

I'm a goal-driven creative who loves to tell unique stories. Whether working with politicians on Capitol Hill, interviewing celebrities on a BET red carpet, or heavily following sports at the NBC Sports HQ, my aim has always been to highlight and share trending stories.

Najah Miller

Najah Miller is a proud native of Oakland, Ca. She is, first and foremost, an artist with an extensive dance background. She attended Oakland School for the Arts, where she trained in ballet, jazz, and contemporary dance. She continued her education at Berkeley City College and then transferred to San Francisco State University, where she received her B.A. in Communication Studies. Najah found that dance and communications were similar; there is always a story to be told, and there are various ways to tell that story. After graduating from SFSU, Najah headed to Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California, where she currently is studying to receive her master’s in Communication Management with an emphasis in Media and Entertainment.

Nijeria Thompson


I am a 1st generation 2012 graduate from an HBCU (Delaware State University) where I started to learn myself and what I wanted to do. Having a huge personality with no direction on where I wanted to go with my career I started to try everything. I sold sneakers, worked in a couple call centers, sold cell phones, and then moved into project management. The structure made me feel stifled and did not see the type of content I wanted to hear on the market. I wanted an outlet and to be the voice of what I wanted to hear, with my best friend we started a podcast, KaNdid Talks Podcast. I do all pre and post production of the content. It opened my eyes and now I want to experience and learn more. 

Positivity in all realms, freedom to be your authentic self, and multifaceted diverse ray of sunshine are three phrases that describe me.





Briana Nwokeji

2021 Mentee