What does ‘women in entertainment’ mean and is it the same for all industries within entertainment? You might be surprised at the answer. In contrast with the film industry, women’s voices have enjoyed more representation in television over the years. There is still more work to be done, but why does episodic storytelling allow for more inclusion than film? Join leaders in the field, including Geneva Wasserman (President, Whitener Entertainment Group) and Michelle Ganeless (Producer and former president of Comedy Central), who are making their imprint and forging a path to parity. The discussion will explore why women are setting their sights on TV as an entry point to the broader entertainment industry and how and why the medium has become a more reliable source of work. The conversation will also look to the road ahead and how more recent successes can provide renewed momentum to finally shatter glass ceilings everywhere.
Geneva Wasserman is the President of Whitener Entertainment Group, a film and television company based in Los Angeles.
Wasserman has served in numerous executive and legal roles focused on content development, licensing, technology, and business affairs while working with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, Starz Animation, Arc Animation, the Hub, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, and the CW.
Most recently, Wasserman served as president of WV Enterprises, Wilmer Valderrama’s film and television production company. Prior to WV Enterprises, Wasserman was a senior executive at Invision by the Associated Press, where she was responsible for development activities across AP’s entertainment businesses including film, television, and branded digital content. She is a co-founder of the publishing and advertising platforms True360VR and 360 AdSpots.
Michele Ganeless is a producer and media consultant based in New York. She was most recently President of Comedy Central, a position she held from 2004 - 2016. Ganeless was responsible for the leadership, strategy and management of the network as well as day-to-day operations. Under her leadership, Comedy Central built its position across all platforms as the number one brand in comedy.
During her tenure, Ganeless saw the prominence of the Comedy Central brand grow as many of its most popular series, including the Emmy®and Peabody® Award-winning “South Park,” “Inside Amy Schumer" and “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” along with “Key & Peele”, “Broad City”, and “@midnight” permeated the zeitgeist and dominated the cultural landscape.
Keeping Comedy Central at the forefront of the multiplatform age, Ganeless led the rollout of projects like Comedy Central’s TV Everywhere App, a seamless extension of the brand that gives fans a one-stop destination for access to full episodes of Comedy Central series instantly and anywhere, and its Snapchat Discover Channel.
This marked Ganeless’ third tour at Comedy Central, having started with the network in 1990 as a research manager. From 1996-2001, she was SVP Programming. From 2001 to 2004, Ganeless served as Executive Vice President and General Manager of USA Network. From 1992 to 1995, Ganeless was Vice President, Research and Planning at MTV.
Ganeless is currently producing her first feature film entitled Egg. In addition to creating great content, Ganeless and her fellow producers Alysia Reiner and David Alan Basche have a clear creative mandate: hire more women behind and in front of the camera, thus helping to level the playing field for women in entertainment.
Ganeless holds a BS degree from Northwestern University and lives in New York City. She sits on the board of the Posse Foundation, an organization dedicated to identifying and training youth leaders from urban public high schools, and on the National Advisory Council of Northwestern University’s School of Communications.
Jamie Jackson is a composer, singer-songwriter and currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband and two year old daughter. Jamie originally hails from Jackson, Mississippi. She credits her musical inspiration to her time spent working at Jimi Hendrix's Electric Lady Studios in NYC.
In 2008, she began her professional career as a composer. She has scored series for NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX and TBS.
Jamie also has a band called Hot As Sun. Songs from this project have been heard on American Idol, Vampire Diaries, Glee, CSI Miami, For a Good Time Call and many more.
LA Times has called her work "John Hughes montage-ready".
She is currently scoring a documentary titled Accidental Climber and will begin production on CW’s new series Life Sentence in the fall.
Wendy is a roller-coaster fanatic and mother of two young boys, as well as a Producer and actress and with a passion for stories by and about women. As Wendy became increasingly aware of the low statistics of women working in the Entertainment Industry, she decided to become a part of the solution. Her philanthropic eye and heart for social change fueled her to create iWe ~ Inclusion for Women in Entertainment. iWe is committed to strengthening the connective tissue between organizations and individuals working to achieve gender balance in the Entertainment Industry. With an eye on social and systemic change, in an inclusive, grassroots, forward-thinking environment, we innovate new ideas & turn them into action.
Having made an indelible mark on stage, Merle Dandridge continues to shine on the small screen starring as Grace in the Oprah Winfrey/Lionsgate produced television show “Greenleaf” which just aired its mid-season 2 finale episode this past May. She has recurred on a number of television series including F/X’s “Sons of Anarchy”, CW’s “Starcrossed” and NBC’s “The Night Shift”.
Dandridge began her acting career with leading roles on Broadway in “Spamalot” (Lady of the Lake), “Rent” (Joanne), “Aida” (Aida), “Tarzan” (Kala) and “Jesus Christ Superstar” (Soul Girl, Disciple). She has toured the U.S. and Europe 6 times, been featured in several regional theatre productions including multiple stints at The Geffen Playhouse and Pasadena Playhouse.
She has voiced several videogame characters and worked alongside Neil Druckmann in UNCHARTED 4: A THIEF’S END and THE LAST OF US. She has also voiced characters in DOTA 2, HALF-LIFE 2 and the Award-winning independent video game EVERYBODY’S GONE TO THE RAPTURE.
Dandridge was born in Japan, raised in Nebraska and schooled in Chicago at Roosevelt University. She now resides in Los Angeles.