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Meet The 2022-2024 Board

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ASHLEY JAMES

Co-President + Volunteer Chair

Ashley is a native of New Orleans, La. She followed the legacy of her mother and aunt by attending St. Mary's Academy Catholic high school. Once graduating from high school, Ashley earned her Associate's in Performance and Media Arts from Delgado Community College; Bachelor's in Film Arts from the University of New Orleans, and Master's of Science Degree in Business Entertainment from FullSail University. Ashley is currently a banker with Capitol One and spends her free time reading, watching movies, and completing her first novel. She truly enjoys meeting new people and exploring their personality. She believes everyone has a beautiful and positive heart.

 

CONTACT: wiftlouisiana@gmail.com

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SAMANTHA SMITH

Co-President + Membership Chair

Samantha Smith is a Professional Actress, Published Author, Business Owner, and Activist. Her film & Television credits include First Christmas (OWN), Mike (Hulu), Cute With Bad Qualities (Amazon Prime), Marvel's Cloak & Dagger, Pitch Perfect 2, NCIS: New Orleans, Queen Sugar, Arachnoquake, Django Unchained, The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons, Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, and more.  Her love for movies and storytelling developed as a young girl as she would sit and watch movies with her Grandfather. On Sunday afternoons following church, she would sit with her family over Sunday Dinner cooked by her grandfather and after watching the day's sporting events what always came next was “let's find a good movie”. Her love for story-telling grew and connected her to everything that felt like “home” and in 2021 she founded Agape Productions LLC, a production company which focuses on content for Television & Film with a primary focus on storytelling that uplifts humanity. Her activism is cast as a wide net as Samantha has a heart for people. Matters that are important to her are social justice matters such as poverty, the experience of African Americans, equality for women, and access to quality education for all. Her activism began at the humble age of 6 on the playground of Holman Hawks Elementary School in St. Louis, Missouri when she rallied a group of like-minded individuals and started the ‘Jesus Club’, a club that focused on resolving conflict on the playground. 

Samantha received a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications with a focus in Broadcast Journalism from Southern University A&M College. While at Southern she served 2 years on the Gold N’ Bluez dance team and performed in Super Bowl 46 with Madonna. She also produced, directed, and anchored various news segments during her matriculation in undergrad. In addition, Samantha’s professional experience includes 8 years of experience in the classroom between substitute teaching and teaching her own class, Entertainment Technology, in which she created the curriculum for at a Magnet School in Baton Rouge, La. She has also been an Account Coordinator for a Marketing Firm, General Manager of a Fitness Gym, and a Studio Teacher on the sets of Guardians of The Galaxy, The Wonder Years (ABC), and Raising Dion (Netflix). She is currently a graduate student at LSU studying Non-Profit Administration.

 

Samantha is an active member of the NAACP, WIFT (Women In Film & Television), and serves as the Leader of Millennial Ministry at Bethel AME Church in Baton Rouge, La.

CONTACT: wiftlamembership@gmail.com

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PORTIA WASHINGTON

Vice President + Events Chair

Portia is currently serving WiFT-Louisiana as our Vice President and Events Chair. She has shown our chapter the utmost dedication and has produced quality events and programs for our Baton Rouge members.

 

CONTACT: wiftbatonrouge@gmail.com

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KELLY LIND

Secretary

New Orleans native, Kelly Lind, has worked in the entertainment industry for over 20 years both behind and in front of the camera.  She started her career as an intern at WWL-TV and on the film Dead Man Walking.  After graduating with a BA in Communications from UC San Diego, she worked and traveled around the world, hitting every continent by the age of 29.  Her various jobs included teaching English in Japan, coordinating press conferences for the Field Hockey venue at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and working as a carpenter helper in Antarctica.  Along the way, she continued to work in entertainment with jobs such as Tennis Media Liaison for NBC at Wimbledon and Roland Garros, as well as Research Assistant for TNT at Wimbledon and for USA Networks at the US Open.  She has worked in various capacities in feature films and TV shows, such as Sean Penn’s Assistant on All the King’s Men, Producer’s Assistant on The Reaping and Deja Vu, COVID Compliance Officer on Oracle and The Park, Craft Service for the American Music Awards, and in the Construction Department on We Have a Ghost, Renfield, and The Winchesters.  

 

As an actress, Kelly has appeared in numerous commercials, films and TV shows, including Bad Moms, The Iceman, Claws, NCIS: New Orleans, and the Academy Award-winning film, The Big Short.  She co-produced and starred in the award-winning short film Garden District (won Best Short at the London International Film Festival, among others), and has most recently been fulfilling her love of comedy by performing with her improv troupe, The Whale Spooners, in sketch comedy shows at Big Couch Theatre, and in the Crow’s Nest Productions’ parody of Friday the 13th called Love Songs with Jason.  To learn more about Kelly, her entertainment career, and her crazy global adventures, visit www.kelly-lind.com.

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SALLAY SHAMEKA
Imm. Past President/ WiFT US + Intl Rep

Sallay Shameka is an Actress born and raised in New Orleans. She studied theater at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, LA and later received her BFA in acting and producing at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, CA. She is an Arts Integration teacher for Young Audiences of Louisiana and teaches middle school theater at Young Audiences Charter School. She has graced the stage in projects The Black Nativity, Seeking Asylum, Le Code Noir and Inner Child. Her recent film projects include A House Divided, I'M A Virgo, NCIS:New Orleans, I Love Louis, Alienated and Murderous Affairs. Sallay Shameka is currently the International and United States representative for Women in Film and Television Louisiana as well the immediate past president and has been on the Board of Directors since 2016.

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ANGEL OMOIKE

WiFT US + International Representative

Angel is an artist and school teacher who serves New Orleans well. She is in her second term in office for WiFT-Louisiana as our Volunteer Chair. She has assisted our chapter in producing our events and programs. She continues to work hard, dedicated to Women in Film & Television-Louisiana.

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SIMONE BROWN

Treasurer + Marketing Chair

Simone Brown is a Brazilian Production Coordinator/APOC/Production Office manager living in New Orleans, Louisiana. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Communication- Film, and TV at FAAP University in 1991 and her Master’s Degree in Marketing at Sao Judas University - Unimonte in 2008 in Brazil.  

 

She has natural leadership and management skills, which make her an experienced and creative Production Coordinator who enjoys taking on new challenges. For the past 28 years, she has done productions in Brazil that include documentaries, short movies, feature films, commercials, TV Series, game shows, talk shows, live shows, lifestyle shows, and video clips.

 

In Brazil, she worked at various TV Broadcasts like Rede Record, Rede Bandeirantes, TV Cultura, Rede TV. She worked at Productions Film Houses like Fly Productions, Framewave Productions, Lightstar Studios, and O2 Filmes. She had the pleasure of working at 02 Filmes with the Oscar-nominated director Fernando Meirelles.

 

Besides working as a Production Coordinator in Films and TV, she worked for 12 years as a University Professor at Sao Judas University teaching Production to the Major Film and TV Audiovisual. Her current job is as a Production Operations Specialist at StudioNow.

CONTACT: wiftlatreasurer@gmail.com

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TRACY L. NORWOOD

Communications Chair

Tracy L. Norwood, a native of Louisiana, spent most of her formative years in New Jersey where her love of theatre, acting and performing was nurtured and allowed to flourish.  She received her BFA in Acting and a musical theatre concentration from Long Island University.  Upon moving back to Louisiana, she began her filmmaking journey working on "Of Mind and Music" directed by Richie Adams and stars Aunjanue Ellis, Ruth Negga and Joaquim de Almeida. 

 

She went on to earn her MFA in Film Production from the University of New Orleans.  She also holds a post-baccalaureate in English Education from Kean University and an MA in Organizational Communication from Southeastern University. 

 

She continues to take professional acting training studying in New Orleans and keeps her comedic timing sharp being an ensemble member of Big Couch NOLA Improv performing in their monthly Joie des Femmes and Time Capsule shows and the recently formed in-house musical improv troupe.  She is currently in development on two feature screenplays; one, a dark comedy satire and the other, a modern adaptation of a Shakespeare classic tragedy.

She is theatrically and commercially represented by Action Talent Agency, a proud member of Actors' Equity Association and has been an active WiFT member since 2016.  She also works at NOVAC, where she is the Communications Manager supporting their mission of empowering storytellers, thus making her a perfect fit for the WiFT Communications Chair.

 

CONTACT: wiftlacommunication@gmail.com

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Executive Assistant

ELISHA "ELI" DAVIS

Elisha "Eli" Davis is a multi-talented actress who is making her mark in the world of entertainment. Davis was born in St.Louis, Missouri and raised in Houston, Texas. She pursued her passion for acting by attending The University of New Orleans, where she studied Television & Film with a minor in Theater. One of Eli's notable achievements was her involvement in the Forbes featured Lifetime special, "Beyond the Headlines: Black Girl Missing" campaign where she portrayed Tanesha Howard. She also performed as Luna in the critically acclaimed stage reading of  "Girl of the House" which won the ESSENCE Film Festival 2023 Best Script Award. This recognition speaks to her ability to captivate audiences and deliver powerful performances. In the film "Burnt Roux," directed by Keisha Davis, Eli portrayed the character Betty Ann. The film won an award in the Oscar qualifying category of Best Narrative Short at the New Orleans Film Festival. This achievement is a testament to Eli's ability to bring depth and authenticity to her roles. While pursuing her degree, she was a stand-in on Disney’s “Haunted Mansion" and made an appearance on “Big George Foreman” directed by George Tilman Jr.  Eli regularly attends sessions hosted by esteemed figures in the New Orleans film industry, such as Lance Nichols and Billy Slaughter, to further refine her craft and expand her skill set. Commercially, Eli has also made her mark, with credits including Hope Bank and Infinity Scrubs. Her ability to seamlessly transition between different projects and genres showcases her versatility as an actress. Aside from her professional pursuits, Eli is deeply committed to community involvement and using media as a tool for transformative justice. She has a passion for creating equitable and inclusive media. As a journalism fellow with the local non-profit organization Lede New Orleans, she actively works to amplify important stories and voices that often go unheard. Her most recent interview was with “Be Loud” a radio podcast for local kids in New Orleans. Elisha also plays a pivotal role behind the scenes as the Executive Assistant for the non-profit Women in Film & Television Louisiana. Her dedication to supporting and empowering women in the industry is commendable and speaks to her commitment to making a positive impact. Elisha "Eli" Davis is represented by the reputable Action Talent Agency, which speaks to her talent and potential as a rising star in the industry. With her remarkable skills, genuine passion for her craft, and compassionate heart for people, Eli is poised to continue making waves in the world of film and entertainment.

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LAURA CASSIDY
Community Liaison

Laura recently joined as an Honorary Board Member for the 2022-2024 term. Laura Cassidy is a native of Louisiana, and attended Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama where she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Theatre and music. Shortly thereafter Laura moved to Los Angeles to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an actress. After several frustrating years she was given the advice "If opportunity doesn't knock, build your own door" (Milton Berle), and started her first production company.

 

She now resides in New Orleans, as a Producer and Creative Director for her company, Indie Darling Films, and has produced several shorts (including Unicorn Poop, which premiered as a top 5 film at LA Film Prize) and feature films (including Phony, which played at 21 festivals world-wide and is distributed through Indie Rights).

 

However, Laura is still perhaps best-known for a bit role in the cult classic, awesomely-bad movie Birdemic, a career move that will haunt her dreams and her IMDB rankings forever.

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