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Sarah Gertrude Shapiro addresses AFI Conservatory Directing Workshop for Women Showcase
Guest of honor Sarah Gertrude Shapiro at AFI Conservatory Directing Workshop for Women Showcase 2016
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Sarah Gertrude Shapiro, co-creator and executive producer of Lifetime’s groundbreaking series Unreal, delivered candid remarks on the state of women in Hollywood to a packed house of filmmakers and industry executives at the 2016 AFI Conservatory Directing Workshop for Women (DWW) Showcase. Sponsored by Lifetime, the standing-room-only event took place Tuesday, April 12, at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles, and served as an introduction to the 10 DWW Class of 2015 graduates and their original work in episodic and short film storytelling.

Shapiro (AFI DWW, Class of 2012) gave advice to female directors looking to break into the industry — and highlighted the value of the DWW program, which is supported by the Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation, NBCUniversal and Google.

“I had a better chance of becoming an underwater welder, statistically,” Shapiro said, “than a working female director. It’s basically like becoming a really rare radical warrior.” She urged the female filmmakers in the room to “take Hollywood hostage. Bend it to your will.”

As announced in December 2015, Lifetime made a groundbreaking commitment through its Broad Focus initiative to guarantee employment to DWW filmmakers, starting with the Class of 2015 featured in the Showcase: Amy Barrett, Christine Boylan, Dime Davis, Claire Fowler, Mia Lidofsky, Erica Liu, Bella Monticelli, Rebecca Murga, Philiane Phang and Chelsea Woods.

DWW also announced director/producer/writer Angela Robinson (How To Get Away With Murder, The L Word, True Blood) as the program’s new Artist-in-Residence, as well as the following grants and awards:

Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation Grants:
Tannaz Hazemi (AFI DWW, Class of 2016)
Manjari Makijany (AFI DWW, Class of 2016)

Jean Picker Firstenberg Award:
Amy Barrett (AFI DWW, Class of 2015)

Nancy Malone Award:
Mia Lidofsky (AFI DWW, Class of 2015)
Rebecca Murga (AFI DWW, Class of 2015)