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Elevating Underrepresented Voices in Film, Television and Media – Nov. 2

Date: November 2, 2020 (Monday)

Time: 7:00 pm (PST)

Audiences are waking up to the power of storytelling as the most effective tool to combat racist attitudes.  Stories can influence how people think, feel and perceive the world around them. In Canada and the US, there are so many underrepresented voices to discover and stories to draw from their histories and lived experiences.  This panel will shine a spotlight on the importance of elevating creators from Black, Indigenous, Asian and other communities of colour and share their challenges, strategies and recommendations to increase discoverability.


Nilesh Patel is a former coordinator of diversity initiatives for the NFB, a former instructor in the DTES, and an award winning filmmaker.

Nilesh Patel is a filmmaker of colour who founded Roaming Pictures in 2001 to explore the stories of us all coming together. Throughout his twenty years in the film and television industry he has worked on and for many diversity initiatives by publicly funded organizations, while also working as an instructor for Projections: Film & Television for At-Risk Youth in the DTES for many years. The last decade has seen him continue documentary filmmaking and training with different Indigenous groups in Northern Alberta, the Far North, and BC. At this time Nilesh is continuing his on-going twisted love affair with public financing for documentary, while using his history in film and as man of colour to effect change in the film and television industries.



Barbara Chirinos –  Project Leader National Promotion – Western Region, Ontario and Nunavut

Prior to joining the team at Telefilm Canada was the Founder and Co-curator of the Vancouver International Film Festival/Film Centre’s Black History Month film series, celebrating its 8th year in 2020. Barbara was the Curating Producer of for the Battered Women’s Support Services event: 40 Years Later, featuring Tarana Burke, founder of the #ME TOO Movement at Vancouver’s Orpheum Theatre. She served as the Executive Director of the Granville Island Cultural Society, Gala Producer/Special Events and Facility Manager for VIFF/Vancity Theatre and Managing Director of the Vancouver Folk Music Festival. She co-founded (with Mexican artist Ari De La Mora) and produced the International Day of the Dead Exhibit and Tour on Granville Island. Barbara teaches Festival Management at Capilano University and before making Vancouver her home she was an independent film producer and theatrical stage manager in her home town of NYC.

Jason Ve – VP of Artist Partnerships at 88rising

Jason Ve is the VP of Artist Partnerships at 88rising, the leading record label and media company that manages Asian artists around the world. Jason is a leader in the music and tech industry, and was previously Head of Business Development at Deezer, a global music streaming service. Jason has also held leadership roles at leading tech and media companies, including Google, Viacom and Disney. A graduate of the NYU Stern School of Business, Jason is passionate about rising entrepreneurs, and has a consulting company JV Media Ventures to consult, advise and invest in startups with founders from underrepresented communities.

Nicole Mendes – VP, Scripted Development at Lark Productions

Nicole oversees strategies and development for the scripted arm of the company. Previously, she spent over a decade working in Scripted Content at CBC. As Executive in Charge of Production for CBC Drama, she oversaw projects in both production and development for dramatic one-hour series, limited series, miniseries, movies of the week, and specials including the hit Canadian drama MURDOCH MYSTERIES, the acclaimed series, ANNE WITH AN “E,” and the Peabody nominated limited series THE BOOK OF NEGROES. Nicole has served on multiple juries and sat on various industry panels for organizations such as TIFF, WGC, DGC, and WIFT-T. She also serves on committees for POV and BIPOC TV & Film, organisations that aim to increase inclusion and representation in the industry.

Mahin Ibrahim – Director of Multicultural Audience Engagement, Market for The Walt Disney Studios

Mahin is the Director of Multicultural Audience Engagement, Market for The Walt Disney Studioscurrently overseeing its brand-new short film incubator for underrepresented directors, Launchpad. She was previously at Refinery29 in development/production, and spent the majority of her career at Google and YouTube, where she helped run production programs with an emphasis on diversity and inclusion at its flagship studio for YouTube creators. In addition, she writes creative non-fiction, and holds an M.F.A. in Production from USC and a B.A. in Mass Communication and Business Administration from UC Berkeley.

Melanie Hadley – Program Director for Warner Media

Melanie is an Ojibway woman originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba and is currently based in Toronto. She is currently the Program Director for WarnerMedia’s Canadian initiatives focused on building relationships with and opportunities for creators of all genders, abilities and identities from Canada’s underrepresented communities, including members of Indigenous, Black, and other racialized groups, creators with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ2+ and Francophone communities.
Prior to her role at WarnerMedia, she was executive in charge of production for CBC Drama overseeing projects in development and production including Trickster, Heartland, Frankie Drake Mysteries, Pure, The Secret Path and When Calls the Heart. Before that she was the manager of programming for Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) where she managed development and first- and second-window licencing for television and digital media projects commissioned from Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and the Northwest Territories.
Growing up in an underrepresented community, she has the unique life experience to give her the drive, ambition and perseverance to explore the power of change through storytelling.