Shia Shabazz Smith, Writer
Shia strives to ensure that her works, her art, and her service represent her many communities-at-large.
Shia has completed seven feature-length screenplays, one of which earned finalist placement in the Moondance and Tribeca All-Access competitions; and twice advanced in Sundance Screenwriters’ Lab competition. Her directorial debut film, "Kids and Caffeine on a Mundi," ranked in the top ten in Austin CineMaker’s “Make a Film in a (M.A.F.I.A.) Weekend” contest and screened at the Austin International Super 8 Film Festival. Shia's first short film, Curdled, has screened at eight film festivals, internationally.
A widely published poet, Shia is a Cave Canem Fellow, a VONA participant and a member of The Austin Project: Experiments in the Jazz Aesthetic. Current projects include an eighth feature-length screenplay, two TV series projects, and a second full-length poetry collection, Vanishing Womb, which explores the traumas of losing a mother to Dementia.
To learn more about Shia, click here.
Dio Anthony, Writer
Dio is a self-confessed pop culture observer lending his expertise in story telling to various aspects of the entertainment industry as a former TV Columnist and Features Editor for Bello Mag and Editor, PUBLIC.
An avid television viewer, and columnist with a profound knowledge of the history of American TV & film, he has reported for many of entertainment’s top online-news sites.
A connoisseur of old-timey sitcoms from Hollywood’s golden age and on, he believes the answers to life lie in a very well crafted scene.
Tina Cesa Ward, Attached to Direct
Tina Cesa Ward started her career as a writer and director on several short films, most notably her multi-award winning short film In Their Absence that was named one of the best short films of the decade by Festival de cortos MíraLes. She jumped into the web world in 2008 and for three seasons Tina was the Executive Producer/Writer/Director of Anyone But Me, one of the most beloved independent scripted dramas on the web. Anyone But Me has reached over 50 million views and has brought home nearly ever industry award, highlighted by Tina (along with Susan Miller) winning the first ever Writers Guild of America Award for Original New Media. In 2012 Tina (along with Susan Miller) took home the International Academy of Web TV award for writing in a drama. Tina has been nominated several times for her directing as well, and in 2013 won the International Academy of Web TV Award for Best Directing in a Drama. Other nomination highlights include Webby and Streamy Award nominations.
In 2010 Tina directed the successful first season of the branded web series Bestsellers. A year later Tina debuted the critically acclaimed Good People in Love, which DIGIDAY calls “…a new milestone for online video series.” Tina also took home a Rome Web Award in 2014 for Best Dialogues for the series. In the fall of 2013, Producing Juliet made its premiere at Raindance Film Festival’s London WebFest where it received a stand out notice from The Huffington Post. Producing Juliet has gathered its own share of award nominations, including 2014 and 2015 Indie Series Award nominations for Tina’s direction and writing. In 2015 Tina won the International Academy of Web TV Award for Best Writing (Drama.) And in March 2016, Tina was elected Chair of the International Academy of Web TV and is also an Executive Committee Member for The Caucus for Producers, Writers and Directors.
Sherry Kelly, Producer
While working on the Paramount Pictures studio lot as an Assistant to the then Chairman of Viacom Entertainment Group, I first became aware of the news reports about LGBT kids being bullied - sometimes to the point of death and all too often by suicide.
After learning the facts of the harsh reality of homeless LGBT youth: over 700,000 experience homelessness each year and at least 1500 commit suicide each year. l still have a hard time wrapping my head around 1 homeless LGBT youth dies in the streets every 4 hours. 6 die everyday from lack of shelter, lack of food, lack of healthcare and street violence. Take your pick.
Overlooked, marginalized and dying in plain sight, I quickly realized these kids needed someone to tell their story.
A Place Called Home was born. You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll get pissed off. You'll give a damn.