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Get to Know the Mentors: Executive Elevation Mentorship Program

May 19, 2020

SeriesFest is proud to introduce the inaugural cycle of the Executive Elevation Mentorship Program. Read on to learn more about these incredible mentors that will be mentoring aspiring executives. Learn more about the Executive Elevation Mentorship Program and apply before May 27th!

As part of our mission, SeriesFest will curate a dedicated group of mentors and mentees to spark change in the landscape of the tv/film/media industry at the leadership level. The TV & film industry is making strides towards diversity and inclusion for filmmakers and on-camera talent, but what about the decision makers at the executive level? The Executive Elevation Mentorship Program aims to diversify the landscape of the television's top decision makers. Fellows will be paired with top television, new media and digital executives of color in hopes of moving their projects - and careers- forward.

Elsie Choi

Executive Director, Rideback TV Incubator

Elise Choi

Elsie Choi most recently oversaw TV and film development for Mad Rabbit, a joint venture with Red Arrow Studios, writer/director/producer Kari Skogland (Emmy-nominated and BAFTA-winning director of THE HANDMAID’S TALE) and Peter Sussman (Founder & former CEO, Alliance Atlantis). Choi began her career at Morgan Stanley executing financings for cultural institutions such as The Getty Center and American Museum of Natural History, and then transitioned to marketing and publicity at DreamWorks Pictures in New York and Los Angeles. She went on to head development for Bruce Willis’ company, Willis Brothers Films, where she produced award-winning documentary and narrative features that have premiered at Sundance, Tribeca and Toronto Film Festivals.

Chiké Okonkwo

Independent Producer

Chike Okonkwo

Chiké Okonkwo is a British-Nigerian Actor, Producer and Activist. Known for his role in Sundance winning historical epic, The Birth of a Nation, BET’s Being Mary Jane and for his time at the Royal Shakespeare Company in the UK and in New York. His activism focuses on community banking as an Ambassador of One United Bank, the largest Black owned bank in America. As an advocate for the eradication of child poverty with the Children’s Defense Fund, and as a co-facilitator of a Restorative Justice course for system impacted men at California State Prison. He will next be seen in NBC show La Brea, and has a slate of projects that he is producing across Feature Film, Documentary, TV and Theater.

“As the industry continues to rapidly evolve, the need for great storytelling and great storytellers remains the same. All of the most impactful story-making that I have been part of has happened as part of a community, and welcoming new voices in and nurturing them as they find a footing in this industry is something that my community is very mindful of. I’m excited to be part of the SeriesFest Executive Elevation Program, and look forward to meeting some of tomorrow’s voices, today!” 

- Chiké Okonkwo

Cheri Barner

Talent Manager, CBM

cheri barner

Cheri Barner is a highly-respected Talent Manager in Hollywood and executive producer of the Epix limited series, Elvis Goes ThereA native of Santa Monica, California, Barner spent her childhood performing professionally in theaters and within the entertainment industry, working with such noted figures as Joe Pasternak and Lee Scott.  A graduate of UCLA, Barner, along with Eugene Hernandez and Mark Rabinowitz, founded iLine in 1993 and its current incarnation, IndieWire, in 1996, serving as West Coast Editor while writing and developing web content.  Desiring to work more closely with creative talent, Barner moved on to work for notable companies in gaming, including Purple Moon, before she moved into talent management. In 2012 Barner started her own talent management firm, CBM, to better aid actors and entertainment professionals in both their creative endeavors and the integration of their profession with social causes and the development of quality content.  Barner has now worked as a talent manager for 18 years, finding immense satisfaction in facilitating and nurturing the careers of independent-minded actors.

Terry Washington

CEO, Zane Ryder Management

Terry Washington

Having grown up in the industry, spending many years paying his dues working for various management companies and record labels required the highest level of client service in execution.  Terry Washington inherently developed a passion for the music business and entertainment. From tour managing global artist such as Chris Brown to Vice President of Development of Cruzach Films. Washington co-produced “What Lola Wants”, a feature film acquired by Starz / Anchor Bay released Spring 2016. 

“My strengths are my creativity, persistence, and my ability to nurture strong relationships while keeping my finger on the pulse of current media platforms. It has been my calling card for over 20 years in the entertainment industry.”

 Most recently Washington founded and created Zane Ryder Management. ZRM is an experienced and knowledgeable management team, with a track record of working with many chart- topping artists in the record industry. ZRM also creates original content in digital media, TV, film, and sports entertainment. ZRM has resources and years of experience in both business operations and creative development/execution. ZRM is creating a culture which provides an incredible platform for its clients.

" As a young person hard work and ambition is what I relied upon to navigate and reach my goals. I am the product of someone that could have benefited from a proper mentorship opportunity, I not only have  the utmost respect, but the ability to truly understand the value and direct impact of the Executive Elevation Mentorship Program."

-Terry Washington

Shaunese Zenon

Marketing Manager, COMCAST

Shaunese Zenon

Shaunese Zenon has over 17 years helping companies leverage their core competencies to promote their financial and brand presence. She received her MBA from the University of Denver's Daniels College of Business specializing in management, innovation and has a strong entrepreneurial spirit. Throughout the years, she has gained a wide-range of experience in various industries including natural and organic products, CPG, technology, destination tourism and luxury real-estate sectors. She has refined skills in developing marketing action plans, getting cross-functional alignment, setting up measurement metrics and utilizing traditional and digital marketing tactics to accomplish corporate benchmarks.

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