ATLANTA, GEORGIA – September 30, 2013 – Women In Film & Television Atlanta (WIFTA), Georgia’s premiere organization dedicated to improving the status and portrayal of women in film, video, and other screen-media announced today the 2013 honorees of their Anniversary Gala Awards. Those to be honored include:
Industry Trailblazer Award – Melissa Bernstein and Mark Johnson, Breaking Bad & Rectify
Creative Excellence Award – Jasmine Guy, Vampire Diaries & A Different World
The Georgian Award – Maria Howell, Revolution
The Georgian Award – Melissa McBride, The Walking Dead
Outstanding Contribution, Organization Award – The Alliance Theatre
Outstanding Contribution, Individual Award – Jennifer Brett, Access Atlanta
The awards will be presented during the WIFTA Anniversary Gala and Awards Ceremony, which is WIFTA’s primary fundraising vehicle. The proceeds of the Gala will enable WIFTA to continue to provide exceptional educational programming, networking opportunities and professional resources in support of women in film and television throughout the year.
“We are extremely proud to award Melissa Bernstein and Mark Johnson, Jasmine Guy, Melissa McBride, Maria Howell, Jennifer Brett and The Alliance Theatre with WIFTA’s highest honor in recognition of their exceptional contributions to the film, television and entertainment industry,” says Cheryl Jenkins, WIFTA president.
In addition to the awards ceremony, the fundraising event will also include a screening of the video created via the WIFTA PSA & Mentorship Program, distribution of the WIFTA Tuition scholarship, dinner and a silent auction. Plus, WIFTA will also use the evening as a platform to showcase some of the talent from other entertainment industry disciplines. The night’s musical entertainment will include Neo-soul band Vintage Nation, country crooner Julie Gribble, the Georgia State University Faculty Jazz Trio and mixer extraordinaire DJ Mello. Contemporary dance company Project 7 Contemporary Dance Company and the hilariously funny improv troupe Village Theatre will also be featured entertainment acts during the event. The proceeds of the Gala will enable WIFTA to continue to provide exceptional educational programming, networking opportunities and professional resources in support of women in film and television throughout the year.
The WIFTA 39th Annual Gala & Awards Ceremony, which is being sponsored in part by GWCC and Oz Magazine and Projections, Inc., will be held on October 20, 2013 at the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) in the Thomas Murphy Ballroom (bldg B) starting at 7:30pm. GWCC is located at 285 Andrew Young International Blvd. NW Atlanta, GA. The event is open to the public. Those interested in participating in the event–as a sponsor, silent auction donor or attendee–should visit http://www.WIFTA.org/Gala (or click here) for the most up to date information on related to the event. Tickets are currently on sale: $125 for WIFTA members and $165 for non-members.
About Melissa Bernstein and Mark Johnson
Mark Johnson and Melissa Bernstein are the Executive Producers behind two of the most talked about TV shows today–Breaking Bad and Rectify; both of which were shot in Georgia. Breaking Bad has been nominated for, and won, Emmy and other awards; Rectify, just released in 2013, is already following suit with a TCA Award nomination under its belt already. Clearly, the pair knows how to make good TV…and they’re sure to see repeat success with their third show, also shooting in Georgia: Halt & Catch Fire. While certainly notable for his television credits, Johnson is also the Producer / Executive Producer behind several unforgettable movies. The short list of his most memorable films include: Rain Man, The Notebook, Bugsy, Donnie Brasco, My Sister’s Keeper, What Lies Beneath, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe, and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. With the girth of work that this duo has contributed to the entertainment industry and the successes of those works, it’s clear why WIFTA has chosen Bernstein and Johnston as its 2013 Industry Trailblazer Award recipients.
About Jasmine Guy
Jasmine Guy danced her way into the heart of America with at the start of her career with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City. While in New York, Guy starred on Broadway in original productions of Beehive and Leader of the Pack as well as reprised hit productions of Grease, The Wiz and Chicago. After years on Broadway and touring the globe, Jasmine landed the pivotal role of “Whitley Gilbert” on The Cosby Show spinoff A Different World. She won six consecutive NAACP Image Awards for her portrayal of the pretentious but funny southern belle. Her other television performances include: Melrose Place, NYPD Blue, Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Living Single. Her most recent TV role as “Grams” on the popular series Vampire Diaries can be seen on the CW Network.
In addition to her impressive list on on-screen and on-stage cast mates, Guy has worked extensively in theater behind the scenes with Kenny Leon, Susan Booth, Andrea Frye and Pearl Cleage. She has starred in or directed many productions, including: For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf, Miss Evers’ Boys, Blues for an Alabama Sky, The Colored Museum, The Fourposter, The Nacirema Society, Broke-ology and Fool For Love; her most recent theatrical projects include God of Carnage at Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre, which is where she also directed the world premiere of the opera celebrating the life and journey of Martin Luther King, Jr. I Dream.
About Melissa McBride
A veteran commercial, voice and television actress, Melissa McBride began her acting career shortly after college. She made her prime-time network television debut guest-starring on Matlock opposite the late Andy Griffith in a two-part special.
Additional credits include The Mist, directed by Frank Darabon; the festival award-winning film Lost Crossing, directed by Eric Blue; and The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, directed by Peter Care and produced by Jody Foster. For television. McBride’s appearances include Dawson’s Creek, Walker Texas Ranger, Profiler and American Gothic; the television movies Living Proof with Harry Conick, Jr., Pirates of Silicon Valley
with Noah Wyle; and A Season In Purgatory based on the book written by Dominick Dunne, with Patrick Dempsey; along with numerous television commercials.
In the music scene, McBride played “Lucy, the messed up dressed up waitrrss’ opposite Martin Sheen in Diamond Rio’s music video “It’s All In Your Head.” She was the voice double for Anne Bancroft in the 2008 animated feature Diego.
In addition to her on-camera and voice acting, McBride has worked behind the camera as a commercial casting director.
About Maria Howell
Maria Howell stars as Grace in NBC’s “Revolution.” Howell is an actor, singer and voiceover artist. She is often remembered as the choir soloist from the movie “The Color Purple” but has certainly gone on to make her mark as an accomplished performer since then. As an actress, Howell has appeared in Tyler Perry’s Daddy’s Little Girls, Meet The Browns and House of Payne. Her other television credits include Army Wives, Drop Dead Diva, Vampire Diaries, Past Life, Detroit 1-8-7, as well as the acclaimed theatrical release The Blind Side, starring Sandra Bullock. She worked alongside Mario Van Peebles and Wendy Raquel Robinson in the series The Game, on Queen Latifah’s Single Ladies, and on USA’s hit show Necessary Roughness. Most recently, she played Cameron Diaz’s doctor in What to Expect When You’re Expecting, and the role of “Mrs. Easle” in the movie Firelight, starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. Throughout her career, she has shared the musical stage with legendary artists like Nancy Wilson, George Benson, Ray Charles and Earl Klugh. After a very successful stint in Asia, Howell relocated to Atlanta, Georgia and performed weekly at Sambuca Jazz Cafe for nine consecutive years–from 2002 to its closing in December 2010. She and pianist Bill Wilson held the distinction of being the longest-running act at the Atlanta location. Howell has released several CD recordings, with the most recent release titled “Reflections,” a retrospective collection.
About Jennifer Brett
Jennifer Brett is an accomplished journalist that has been keeping Atlanta in-the-know about what’s happening in the Atlanta entertainment industry for years. She shares her “insider information” via her Access Atlanta column, appropriately named The Buzz. Brett, a unique journalist, is known for dividing her attention equally to covering the major Hollywood studio films that are shooting in or have ties to Georgia as well as the independent productions that are shot here.
About The Alliance Theater
The Alliance Theatre has become the lead producing theatre in the Southeast, creating the powerful experience of shared theatre for diverse people. They not only produce world-class work on stage, they also have one of the most successful and respected acting education programs in the country. The Alliance Theatre is a community of artists, administrators and business and civic leaders devoted to theatre arts and arts eduction. The people behind the Alliance Theatre include a dedicated staff , a generous volunteer Board of Directors and Advisory Board, and countless artists and instructors working to put the best theatre in the world on the stage every day.