Transgender Film Center Reveals Inaugural Career Development Lab Cohort (Exclusive)

The Transgender Film Center has unveiled the first-ever Career Development Lab cohort.

Eight creatives working in film and TV were selected by the nonprofit, which focuses on advancing the work of transgender film creators, to participate in this intensive 12-week career accelerator supported by Netflix’s Fund for Creative Equity. “Our mission is to bring more trans-made stories to the world, and we designed the lab to address the root of the opportunity, by helping more transgender creators find career success in TV and film,” said TFC executive director Sav Rodgers in a statement.

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The 2024 class is comprised of Amanda Cruz Gonzalez, Elliott Feliciano, Alexandra Grey, Sir Lex Kennedy, Sepi Mashiahof, Xoai Pham, Ingrid Raphaël and Georden West. They were selected from a pool of hundreds of initial applications through a process that evaluated their potential, readiness, need and values alongside work samples, career histories and personal essays.

“We had so many terrific candidates and only eight positions, so we were intensely aware of making choices directly based on our criteria and guidelines,” Rodgers said. “I’m excited by the diverse talent we’ve brought together.”

The Career Development Lab at TFC cohort will receive insight, instruction and guidance from active industry professionals via on-site seminars, virtual workshops and behind-the-scenes experiences, including a look behind the curtain at the Tribeca Festival. All participants also receive travel support, accommodations for on-site experiences and a $10,000 honorarium to offset time away from earning during the lab.

Once completed, the cohort will apply their new insight and experiences to a written career next-steps plan, supported by new industry contacts, an expanded peer network and lab resources.

Learn more about each participant below.

Amanda Cruz Gonzalez (they/them) is a queer first generation Mexican-American film producer who has worked with Netflix, Paramount, and Premiere Entertainment and has expertise in film financing, sales, development and producing. Their most recent productions include narrative films, commercial projects and documentaries and they are currently working as a freelance Creative Producer in both narrative and documentary.

Elliott Feliciano (he/they) is a trans Puerto Rican writer and director born and raised in East Chicago, Ind., and currently located in Los Angeles. He wrote and directed the short film To Be With You, an official selection at the 2019 Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ Film Festival and the 2020 Bentonville Film Festival. Elliott has worked as a Set PA on the Netflix documentary Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen, as a Writers’ PA on Starz’s Vida, FX’s Pose and American Horror Story and as a Staff Writer on The CW’s Tom Swift.

Alexandra Grey (she/her) is a writer, director, actress and producer from Chicago. Raised in seven foster homes, after high school she relocated to California, where she studied drama at California State University Northridge before beginning a career in television. She played minor trans characters on medical and drama shows before stepping behind the camera and writing, directing and producing short films.

Sir Lex Kennedy (he/they) is a vegan, queer, black trans masculine media content creator who studied Comparative Women’s Studies and Film at Spelman College in Atlanta before finishing his studies in the Los Angeles City College’s film program. An artist and activist, Sir Lex has directed multiple short films that screened at Campus MovieFest, Newfest, Fusion and Outfest, winning numerous awards. They completed a Sound Fellowship for Netflix’s Disclosure, worked as a producer for Tribune Creative West/KTLA5 in Los Angeles, and is currently the audience engagement producer for ABC7/Disney in Glendale.

Sepi Mashiahof (she/they) is a transfemme Iranian-American filmmaker, screenwriter and musician. She came of age in the underground arts and music community in Oakland, where she co-founded the Scream Queens Radio program, served as executive director of Bay Area Girls Rock Camp, and was a member of the industrial no wave band SBSM. She has made two short films, Love You Forever and Smooth, alongside music videos for artists like Divide and Dissolve, The Bedroom Witch and Beast Nest. Sepi is a Film Fatales Fellow and an SFTFF Dream Commission recipient and was recently the director’s assistant on Jane Schoenbrun’s A24 horror film I Saw The TV Glow.

Xoai Pham (she/her) is a Vietnamese trans woman, multidisciplinary artist and cultural strategist. She has written poetry, fiction and cultural criticism and is now venturing into screenwriting. Her work has been published in POETRY, Esquire, Elle, and more. For the last decade, she’s devoted her storytelling to social change organizations focused on health equity, immigration policy and violence against transgender people, directing multimedia campaigns that span film, art curation and animation. Her short documentary, The Songs of Water, is currently in post-production.

Ingrid Raphaël (they/them) is a transdisciplinary artist, documentary and experimental film director, educator and programmer currently in development for their first feature, whose proof of concept received support from the Trans Film Center, Center for Afrofuturist Studies and Independence Public Media Foundation. They co-founded the nomadic NO EVIL EYE CINEMA, and co-design its programming, including alternative satelite film school FILM FUTURA. They are the co-director of the Field of Vision commissioned, award-winning short doc They Won’t Call It Murder and have directed experimental short films like Ode to Cbus, Ohio and Movingbodyofwork, which screened at Anthology Film Archives and CineSpeak.

Georden West (they/them) is a multimedia artist finding archival silence’s speculative openings. West’s Patron Saint won gold at the 46th Student Academy Awards, and their debut feature, Playland, world premiered at 2023 IFFR and premiered in North America at the Tribeca Festival. Playland participated in 2022 Gotham Week (formerly IFP) US features in post-production and the American Film Festival Poland’s US in Progress program, and is slated for theatrical release with Juno Films this year. From 2021-22, West was an Academy Gold Women’s Fellowship finalist, Fine Arts Work Center Visual Arts Fellow, Zurich Film Festival Academy member and one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film.”

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