Trailblazing Through the Decades: Maleni Chaitoo (2010s)

Trailblazing Through the Decades: Maleni Chaitoo (2010s)

NYWIFT member Maleni Chaitoo is an actress and a producer. She is known for her appearance in the “New York, I Love You” episode of Master of None and her role as Kayla on the web series Don’t Shoot the Messenger, on which she is also an executive producer. Continue reading Trailblazing Through the Decades: Maleni Chaitoo (2010s)

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Trailblazing through the Decades: Gina Prince-Bythewood (2000s)

Trailblazing through the Decades: Gina Prince-Bythewood (2000s)

In 2000, writer, director, and past NYWIFT Writers Lab mentor Gina Prince-Bythewood blazed a trail with her film Love and Basketball. Not only was the film a critical and commercial success, it won the Humanitas Prize and an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature. Continue reading Trailblazing through the Decades: Gina Prince-Bythewood (2000s)

Trailblazing through the Decades: Cheryl Dunye (1990s)

Trailblazing through the Decades: Cheryl Dunye (1990s)

Twenty years ago a young artist set out to make a documentary about women like herself: black queer filmmakers. She found nothing but homophobia and omission, and then… inspiration. The resulting film The Watermelon Woman marked Cheryl Dunye’s 1996 debut – a hybrid of autobiography, documentary, and comedy. It defies categorization and was the first feature film directed by an African American lesbian. Continue reading Trailblazing through the Decades: Cheryl Dunye (1990s)

Trailblazing Through the Decades: Jessie Maple (1980s)

Trailblazing Through the Decades: Jessie Maple (1980s)

Jessie Maple is the first black woman to join the union of International Photographers of Motion Picture & Television (IATSE) in New York. Her book, How to Become a Union Camerawoman , is an instructional guide illustrating the obstacles that she endured to get into the union. It details the court case she initiated to fight discrimination after she became a member. Continue reading Trailblazing Through the Decades: Jessie Maple (1980s)

Trailblazing Through the Decades: Ida Lupino (1950s)

Trailblazing Through the Decades: Ida Lupino (1950s)

British-American actress and producer Ida Lupino, got her start directing when the director of the 1949 film Not Wanted suffered a heart attack during pre-production. Lupino stepped in and shot the film guerilla style to keep the movie on budget and on schedule. Budgeted at just over $150,000, the film grossed $1 million, and Lupino’s reputation spread through Hollywood studios even though the original director retained credit. Continue reading Trailblazing Through the Decades: Ida Lupino (1950s)

Trailblazing through the Decades: Hedy Lamarr (1940s)

Trailblazing through the Decades: Hedy Lamarr (1940s)

During WWII, a hobbyist inventor worked to help the military come up with a secure communication system to combat the Nazis. By manipulating radio frequencies at irregular intervals between transmission and reception, the invention formed an unbreakable code that prevented classified messages from being intercepted by enemy personnel. This patented form of frequency hopping revolutionized modern communications and formed the foundation for Wi-Fi, cell phone, and Bluetooth technology. The inventor’s name was Hedy Lamarr, and she was also a Hollywood star during MGM’s “Golden Age.” Continue reading Trailblazing through the Decades: Hedy Lamarr (1940s)