Home Events Changing the Narrative: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Film

Changing the Narrative: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Film

Filmed entertainment has the power to engage, entertain and inspire diverse communities but continued under- and misrepresentation perpetuates the disconnect between what is onscreen and real-world experiences. This session will emphasize how producers are embracing meaningful changes in narrative and cast that are more authentic and empowering both on screen and on set to resonate with global audiences, along with key findings from new research.

Presenter & Moderator:
Madeline Di Nonno, President & CEO of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media

Iram Parveen Bilal, Filmmaker
Wendy Guerrero, President of Programming, Bentonville Film Festival
Christopher Kahunahana, Producer, Writer, Director
Alysia Reiner, Actor, Creator, Producer

presented in partnership with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media 


Nov 02 2021


11:00 am - 12:30 pm




  • Alysia Reiner
    Alysia Reiner
    Actor, Creator, Producer

    Award winning actress and producer Alysia Reiner is best known as Natalie “Fig” Figueroa on Netflix’s hit Orange Is the New Black, for which she won an ensemble SAG award and you can see her in all 7 Seasons. Reiner joined the cast of HBO’s The Deuce for season 2, returned for season 3, and you can see her in all 5 seasons of FX’s critically acclaimed Peabody Award winning Better Things, streaming now on HULU, with season 5 just wrapped.

    She is currently filming opposite Courtney Cox and Greg Kinnear in the new horror comedy series SHINING VALE for STARZ. Additionally she has guest starred and recurred on some cult favorite shows like DA Parks on How To Get Away With Murder, Broad City (Emmy award winning episode), Blacklist, All Rise, Odd Mom Out & Masters of Sex, and then there is that MARVEL project rumor….

    Her motherhood dark-comedic feature EGG, which she produced and stars in with Christina Hendricks and Anna Camp, premiered at Tribeca film festival, is 100% fresh on Rotten tomatoes and available on iTunes, Amazon & VOD Now. Additionally, Alysia produced and starred in Equity, the first female driven Wall Street movie, bought/distributed by Sony Pictures Classics at Sundance 2016.

    Equity was Alysia’s first feature as both actress and producer, but she has acted in countless critically acclaimed and award winning films and shows, working with film masters like “Sideways” director Alexander Payne, Jodie Foster, Richard Loncraine, Matt Weiner, and of course Jenji Kohan and Pamela Adlon. You may also know her from feature films like Sideways, 5 Flights up, Kelly and Cal, Shine, Fort Tilden, Kissing Jessica Stein, or countless other indie films and TV shows (and yes you have seen her on all of the Law & Orders multiple times).

    A classically trained theatre actor, Alysia has appeared on stages around the world; from the Sundance Filmmakers Lab in Utah to The Royal Court Theatre in London; from the famed Apollo Theatre in Harlem NYC to The Edinburgh Festival in Scotland. She starred in the NY premiere of “Pentecost” by Tony-winning playwright David Edgar, and the provocative two character play “An Oak Tree” with Tim Crouch, which won a Special Obie Award. Her portrayal of Tina Modotti in “Modotti” and June Miller in “Anais Nin: One Of Her Lives” were critically acclaimed, as was her turn in “Wasps in Bed” of which The New York Times wrote “Alysia Reiner is priceless.”

    As a voice actress, Alysia just finished her second season as the voice of Ms. Marmalady on Butterbean’s Cafe on Nickelodeon, has voiced other cartoons as well as many books on tape, video games, podcasts for audible, as well as many national commercial campaigns, including the award winning brand change for Campbell’s Soup.

    Alysia loves working as a change maker for women, received the Acclaimed Collaborator Award from Women in Arts and Media, is on the board of the Geena Davis Institute for Gender Equality, the global leadership board of Times Up, recently received a Must “Made in NY” award from The Mayor’s office and New York Women in Film and Television, and has been invited to The White House, The United Nations, S.H.E. Summit, Google, and Cannes Lion to speak about breaking barriers for women in all fields. Additionally, she was awarded the Sarah Powell Huntington Leadership Award by the Women’s Prison Association, and was honored with the Voice of a Woman Award, the Pioneer in Filmmaking Award, and the Founders Awards for Support.

    Passionately committed to protecting the environment, Reiner is a champion of all things eco-friendly. In addition to starting a zero waste fashion brand (see livariclothing.com!), her completely green Harlem brownstone renovation has been featured on “World’s Greenest Homes,” “Home & Family,” and “Renovation Nation,” as well as in various magazines including Dwell, Gotham, Futurist, and The Nest. She is also a celebrity spokesperson for Best for Babes and Healthy Child Healthy World. She is a celebrity contributor to the Huffington Post, Kveller, and Maria Shriver’s Website, and has been featured on CNN, People.com, Celebrity Baby Scoop, Stroller Traffic, Healthy Child Healthy World, Family Focus Blog, Today I ate a Rainbow, Your Green Baby, and others.

    Additionally, Reiner is involved with many other non profits. She is on the board of the Still She Rise, which serves incarcerated women in Tulsa, as well as the Global Advisory Board of Times Up. She works regularly with Bard Prison Association, Sanctuary Neighborhood, This is about Humanity, Vote plus 10, is an ambassador for The Geena Davis Institute for Gender Equality, the Women’s Prison Association, who gave her the Sarah Powell Huntington Leadership Award; The Cancer Support Community, Teach For America, Child Mind Institute, Actors for Autism, The Young Women’s Leadership Network, SAY: The Stuttering Association for the Young, and Bent on Learning. “Speed Grieving,” the award winning short film that Alysia created, produced and stars in, had it’s world premiere at The Hamptons International Film Festival, and is now used as a grief counseling tool in every Cancer Support Community center in the country.

  • Christopher Kahunahana
    Christopher Kahunahana
    Producer, Writer, Director

    Kahunahana is an award-winning Kanaka Maoli artist and a Sundance Institute Feature Film and Native Lab Alumni. As founder of 4th World Film, he directed LĀHAINĀ NOON, which is currently streaming on the Criterion Channel. As well as a pseudo-documentary for the Smithsonian Institute’s Asian Pacific American “A Day in the Life” project. In 2015, his HIFF trailer MOMENTS won 4 PELE awards from the American Advertising Awards.

    He is the writer, producer, director, and editor of WAIKIKI which premiered at the URBAN WORLD Film Festival. WAIKIKI was recognized with A Grand Jury Award for Best US Narrative Feature and a Special Jury Award for Best Cinematography at The Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival and was also awarded Best Made in Hawaii Feature Film and Jury Award for Best Cinematography at the Hawaii International Film Festival. WAIKIKI has been praised as “stunning”, “powerful”, “nuanced” “a surrealistic journey” “of critical importance.”

    He is currently working on a 360-degree immersive projection installation for the Honolulu Museum of Artsʻ and writing ʻAIMANʻ a sci-fi episodic.

  • Iram Parveen Bilal
    Iram Parveen Bilal

    Iram Parveen Bilal is a creator excited to tell impactful stories envisioning an inclusive world. Raised in Nigeria and Pakistan, she is a certified third culture “kid”.

    Her latest feature, I’LL MEET YOU THERE, was in narrative competition at SXSW 2020, acquired by Level Forward, opened to rave reviews and is being rolled out internationally. Her next feature, ONE OF A KIND, was 1 of 15 invited to the 2019 Cannes L’Atelier, and is slated for production next year. Her TV pilot, DETAINED, was optioned by Wayfarer Studios. Eager to raise while rising, Bilal initiated the formation of the Pakistani Oscar committee and is the founder of QALAMBAAZ, Pakistan’s first professional screenwriting lab.

    Iram is also an active mentor for women in film and tech. Spotlighted as 1 of 8 directors to watch by the Alliance of Women Directors, she is also a CAPE, Film Independent, Watson fellow and multiple time Women in Film awardee. She has been profiled by the New York Times, featured on NPR, BBC, Bloomberg, Filmmaker Magazine among others.

    When she isn’t telling stories, she is dancing to Bollywood tunes or nerding out with fellow Caltech engineers. She believes genuine curiosity is the only antidote to fear.

  • Madeline Di Nonno
    Madeline Di Nonno
    President & CEO, Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media

    Madeline Di Nonno is the President and CEO of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, the leading research driven advocacy organization working within the entertainment and media industry to create gender balance, foster inclusion and reduce negative stereotyping in family entertainment media.
    Di Nonno leads the Institute’s strategic direction, fundraising, D&I programs, research, financial and operational activities. Di Nonno brings a track record of successful executive leadership in the entertainment, non-profit, digital and consumer packaged goods industries. Di Nonno is an Executive Producer on the Emmy nominated, People’s Choice and Gracie award winning television series Mission Unstoppable and the Gracie award winning feature film documentary This Changes Everything. Previously, Di Nonno has served in Executive leadership positions for fAnchor Bay Entertainment/Starz Media. Nielsen Entertainment, Hallmark Channel, Universal Studios Home Entertainment and ABC Television Network.

    Di Nonno is a U.S. State Department Speaker Specialist and public speaker and moderator at global conferences, corporations, governmental organizations and festivals, such as AdWeek, Cannes Lion, Chatham House, CES, Kidscreen, London Film Festival, New Zealand Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, The White House, UNESCO, and the United Nations. Di Nonno has been featured in global media outlets such as Adweek, Ad Age, Cosmo, Fast Company, FOX 11, Forbes, Glamour, The Guardian, MediaWeek, Huffington Post, Spectrum TV, The Hollywood Reporter, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Vanity Fair and Variety.
    Di Nonno holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston University.

    Di Nonno is an appointed Arts Commissioner the Los Angeles County Arts Department. serves on the Board of Directors for the Television Academy Foundation; and Friends of the Erben Organ. Di Nonno is on the Advisory Board for the Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts.

  • Wendy Guerrero
    Wendy Guerrero
    President of Programming, Bentonville Film Festival