The Gotham, Soledad O’Brien’s SO’B Productions Set Inaugural Cohort For Gotham EDU Executive Leadership Program

EXCLUSIVE: The Gotham Film & Media Institute and SO’B Productions have set the participants and mentors for the inaugural edition of the Gotham EDU Executive Leadership Program.

The new initiative is designed to help undergrad students of color, who identify as women or nonbinary, advance to careers in communications, marketing, and development within the film and media industry. It’s funded with support from SO’B Productions — the production company of award-winning journalist, documentarian and producer Soledad O’Brien.

The students named to the program’s first cohort are Ashleigh Brabham (Winston Salem State University), Neema Griffin (Spelman College) and Madysen Scott (Hampton University). They were selected from a pool of 28 students, repping 13 colleges and universities. Senior industry execs who will serve as mentors to the trio are Neon/Super’s Darcy Heusel, Netflix’s Nyle Washington and Firelight Media’s Chloë Walters-Wallace.

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The Gotham EDU Executive Leadership Program kicks off this month and will run through the fall, culminating in a celebration of the fellows at Gotham Week 2023. In addition to one-on-one mentorship, each fellow will benefit throughout its run from access to quarterly leadership and career development workshops in the areas of negotiating skills and emotional intelligence, opportunities to network with members of the Gotham community, and access to special Women in Media Salons hosted by O’Brien.

“We are thrilled to provide vital resources to advance the careers of those selected for the inaugural cohort in the film and media industry,” said The Gotham’s Deputy Director Kia Brooks and Gotham EDU’s Director of Curriculum Cait Carvalho in a joint statement. “By providing them with educational resources and access to industry leaders to help grow their networks, we at the Gotham believe this program will set the fellows on a path to success.”

“I am so glad to be partnering with the Gotham on this vital initiative to support the next generation of women and nonbinary executives in the film industry,” added O’Brien. “The resources, access and mentorship they’ll receive will undoubtedly propel their careers forward.” 

More information on the program’s first set of participants and mentors can be found below.

Cohort Participants

Ashleigh Brabham, Winston Salem State University
Ashleigh Brabham is a third-year student at Winston Salem State University studying Mass Communications with a minor in Marketing. After graduation they hope to work in a firm as a Marketing Analyst. They are a part of several clubs on campus such as SGA Senators where they serve as Secretary, the NAACP, and the National Council of Negro Women. 

Neema Griffin, Spelman College
Neema Griffin is a senior at Spelman College studying documentary filmmaking, Spanish and writing. She is currently working on the production of her new documentary film project that will focus on the historical site Igbo Landing located in coastal Georgia.

Madysen Scott, Hampton University 
Madysen Scott is a junior Strategic Communication major on the pre-law track at Hampton University from Fort Mill, South Carolina. She is the president of the Phi Eta Sigma National Honors Society, the Director of PR and Marketing for the Hampton University SGA, the Marketing Strategist for Brand 757, and the CoChair for the publicity committee for the Freddye T. Davy Honors College.

Cohort Mentors 

Darcy Heusel, Co-Head of Super and VP of AUdience Engagement and Impact at NEON Darcy Heusel Co-Heads SUPER, NEON’s distribution division. Darcy is also the VP of Audience Engagement and Impact at NEON. Previously, Darcy was the Senior Vice President of Impact at Picture Motion, a marketing and advocacy firm for social issue films. In this role, she built and executed national social action campaigns for narrative and documentary projects including Lion, Fed Up, Fruitvale Station, and Bully. Prior to Picture Motion, Darcy served as the Senior Director of Acquisitions and Marketing at Screen Media Films.

Nyle Washington, Series Awards Publicity Executive at Netflix 
Nyle Washington is a public relations professional with over 20 years of working in the television and entertainment industry. She currently serves as an Awards & Talent Relations Manager at Netflix where she ​strategizes, conceptualizes and executes year-round awards campaigns for Netflix’s scripted series including The Crown, Squid Game, Bridgerton, Stranger Things, Ozark, and Dead to Me.

Chloë Walters-Wallace, Director of Regional Initiatives at Firelight Media 
Chloe Walters-Wallace is a Jamaican creative with a passion for curation, travel, documentaries, dancehall and installation art. Currently, she is the Director of Regional Initiatives at Firelight Media, where she oversees the Groundwork Regional Lab and the new HOMEGROWN non-fiction shorts slate, both supporting filmmakers of color in the South, Midwest & US Territories.

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