Meet the Panelists
Anthonia Nneamaka Onyejekwe is a Nigerian-American filmmaker and content creator from Oakland, CA. She has passion for telling stories through visual media and believes that representation matters in front and behind the camera. Anthonia has produced, directed, and assisted on projects for KQED Check, Please! Bay Area, ABC-7, Netflix, Better Homes & Garden, and more. In 2016, Anthonia founded a Bay Area youth film program called REEL Oakland where students have the opportunity to produce a short film together. Anthonia holds an undergraduate degree in Media and Culture Studies from UC Riverside, and a Master's Degree in Cinema Studies from SF State University.
As a queer Xicana, I am invested in creating films that authentically represent the experiences of people of color and queer people of color as a tool for social justice. I decided to become a documentary filmmaker, in particular, because I was cognizant of the limited representations of marginalized communities, of my own communities, in film and media. I received an M.F.A. in Cinema from San Francisco State University. In the final year of my program, I developed my thesis film, Mariposa, funded by the Princess Grace Foundation, which examines the journey of my spouse trying to becoming pregnant and the challenges of us trying to grow our family as a queer couple. Mariposa has screened at over a dozen film festivals nationally and internationally. I have written, directed, and edited several short documentaries that explore the complexity and breadth of experiences of Latinx communities and queer communities of color. Beyond filmmaking, I also produced and curated a documentary film festival that featured films created by and about queer and transgender people of color titled, Queer Brilliance Film Festival.
Edward Simon, a native of Venezuela, has made a name for himself over decades in America as a jazz improviser, composer-arranger and band leader, with his profile heightening in recent years as he has explored the commonalities jazz can have with the folkloric sounds of Latin America. JazzTimes summed up his impact this way: “Simon is less talked about than many other important jazz pianists from the Caribbean and South America, but he may be the most complete creative artist among them.” Guggenheim Fellow along with being awarded multiple composition grants as part of the Chamber Music America’s New Jazz Works initiative. Simon, a Yamaha artist, has recorded 15 albums as a leader or co-leader; his latest is Sorrows and Triumphs, released via Sunnyside Records in April 2018. This follows Simon’s 2016 album Latin American Songbook, with the four-and-a-half-star DownBeat review praising its “grand and sophisticated” sound. Latin American Songbook also won Simon an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Album. The New York Times has praised Simon’s “light, warm touch” as a pianist, while Jazz Journal International singled out “his deep emotional statements” as a composer and improviser.
Erin Lim is the founder, host, and producer of the Bitch Talk Podcast.
Born and raised in the Bay Area, Erin has lived in San Francisco for 16 years and has worked in the film, sports, hospitality, television, radio, and communication industries. Currently, Erin works as a marketing professional at a major arts institution in Oakland.
When not working, podcasting, or in post-production on her first documentary, Erin enjoys walking around San Francisco, snuggling with her dogs, Cokie and Will, and planning her impending nuptials to fellow podcaster, Jeff Hunt of Storied: San Francisco.
John Jota Leanos
John Jota Leaños is a Mestizo (Xicano/Italian/Chumash) interdisciplinary artist and animator concerned with the embattled terrains of history and memory as they relate to nation, power and decolonization. A Guggenheim Fellow of Film and Media, Creative Capital Artist and United States Artist (USArtist) Fellow, Leaños’s practice includes a range of media arts, documentary animation, video, public art, installation and performance. His work has been shown at the Sundance Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, PBS.org, the Whitney Biennial, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and other venues.
Joshua Bee Alfia
Joshua Bee Alafia started making films in high school and graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz with a BA in Film in 1995. Since then he has been freelancing as a Cinematographer and Editor in World Cinema. His cinematographer credits in documentaries include; Every Day Art in Cuba, We Just Tellin Stories: Rodessa Jones Medea Project, Making Tortillas with the Mayans, Besouro Preto, Behind the Green Line, the Road to Sao Tome, the Cuban Hip Hop All Stars, Havana Habibi, Dub Poet: Oku Onuora and Addis Ababa 74. His editor credits include the documentaries Juneteenth Community, Louisiana Cane, and the Sundance Jury Award Winning Wet Dreams and False Images. He has shot music videos for Luciano, Bikram Singh, King David, Boomaz and Poet, Ainsley Burrows. His film credits as writer/ director in narrative films include the Anti Vigilante, Bold As Love, Maybe Dreams Can Come True, The Seed, Se Safando Cubamor, and Lets Stay Together. With a strong dedication to youth filmmaking, Alafia has worked with the Youth Film Fellows program at the Tribeca Film Institute, helped create the film program at the Harlem School of the Arts,and is a mentor at Reel Works. Joshua Bee Alafia resides in Brooklyn, NY.
Bay Area Author, Wanda Lee-Stevens has written books on the black experience for her generation. Her latest release entitled, 50 Years of Assimilation, From the Midwest to the Wild West and All the Blackness & Whiteness In Between was written epistolary style, as her ‘dream report’ to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Wanda felt it important, being the first generation to inherit Dr. King’s dream of integration (which was more like assimilation), to document the journey of the ever-important and misunderstood voice of the African American female in the post-Civil Rights era. Wanda’s anti-racism workshop, “The American Experience, the Blackness, the Whiteness & Ending the Racism In Between” was spawned from the book and is designed to affect cultural awareness and help eradicate racism and anti-blackness. Wanda’s upcoming book, If You Give a Black Boy a Hoodie (to be released in Nov 2020), was in response to the George Zimmerman acquittal and will be sold as a fundraiser. Trayvon Martin’s tragic murder was the event that catapulted Wanda into social activism using the written word as her medium. You can preorder this book and learn more about Wanda. Lastly, Wanda is a graduate of the University of San Francisco, with a B.S. in Organizational Behavior and works as a DEIB Talent & Acquisition Director. She resides in northern California and is a self-described recovering helicopter mom.