Mentors & Judges

There’s a Hollywood saying that goes: “it’s not what you know, but who you know.” The truth is, it’s actually a combination of the two.

That’s why the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge provides both an opportunity to hone your skills and interact with entertainment industry professionals. We’re proud to work with producers, writers, directors, casting directors and other crewmembers in two ways. Our Judges evaluate submissions to determine award winners and our Mentors meet with those winners to give advice on building a career in “the business.”

2017 Mentors

Amy Brenneman

Amy Brenneman

Amy Brenneman is an award-winning actress, writer, producer, and activist. A founding member of the Cornerstone Theater Company, which specializes in original theater centered on themes of social justice, Amy created and starred in Judging Amy, based on the work of her mother, The Honorable Frederica Brenneman. Other TV: NYPD Blue, FrasierPrivate Practice and The Leftovers on HBO.  Film: Heat, Friends and Neighbors and Casper. 

A long-time advocate for reproductive rights, gun control, and childhood education, Amy spoke publicly about her own abortion in an amicus brief in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the 2016 U.S. Supreme Court case striking down Texas’s TRAP law restricting abortion access.

For her activist work, Amy has been honored by Women in Film, The Feminist Majority, The Brady Center, the League of Women Voters, the California State Assembly, the National Children’s Alliance, the Chime Institute, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, the Help Group, the Producer’s Guild of America, among others.

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Tiffany Smith-Anoa’i

Tiffany Smith-Anoa’i

Tiffany Smith-Anoa’i was named Executive Vice President, Entertainment Diversity, Inclusion & Communications, CBS Entertainment in February 2016.

In this position, she will expand upon the division’s current diversity initiatives, as well as develop new programs that recruit, nurture and hire diverse talent to work in front of and behind the camera. In addition, she will serve as the entertainment liaison to multi-cultural coalition groups and provide outreach to agencies, guilds and other industry organizations that represent diverse talent.

Since being appointed Vice President, Entertainment Diversity & Communications, CBS Entertainment in 2009, Smith-Anoa’i has created and launched “CBS On Tour,” a community outreach program in which executives visit schools to educate and encourage students interested in entertainment careers; expanded the writer selection process for “The CBS Diversity Sketch Comedy Showcase;” implemented an annual symposium with casting directors to strategize on best practices to diversify the casting process; partnered with GLAAD to host learning workshops and joined forces with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media to encourage roles for women in front of and behind the camera.

In addition to her executive duties, Smith-Anoa’i, who first joined CBS Entertainment in 2000 as a Senior Publicist for primetime series, continues to draw upon her background and talents as a network publicist, leading West Coast efforts on various projects and network specials, including the annual Grammy Awards®.

Prior to her work at CBS, Smith-Anoa’i was responsible for all aspects of publicity and promotions for Image Public Relations. There, she took on a multitude of projects, including organizing the global press outreach for “Sinbad’s Soul Music Festival.” Preceding her position at Image Public Relations, Smith-Anoa’i worked for NIKE, Inc. where she launched their NIKETOWN stores in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.

Smith-Anoa’i’s community service and charity work includes the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Girl Up and Diamond in the Raw. Also, she maintains a close relationship with her alma mater, Howard University, where she graduated with honors from the School of Communications. In 2013, Howard University presented her with the “Global Visionary Award” for Outstanding Leadership in Diversity and Communications.

She currently resides in her home town of Los Angeles with her husband Reno J. Anoa’i and their daughter.

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2017 Judges

Nicole Castro

Nicole Castro

Nicole Castro is the managing director of the Hollyshorts Film Festival and works for BBC Worldwide in production and distribution.

    Kat Coiro

    Kat Coiro

    Kat Coiro has written and directed 3 feature films: L!fe Happens, While We Were Here, and A Case of You. She has also gone behind the camera for television, directing episodes of Fox’s The Mix and Bravo’s Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce.

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      Jenni Gold

      Jenni Gold

      Jenni Gold is considered a triple threat in the world of entertainment. Her editing and screenwriting skills serve as a foundation for her directorial efforts which have received multiple awards and have placed her among the best in her field as a Director Member of the Directors Guild of America. Jenni is the founder of Gold Pictures, Inc. a development/production entity which was established in 2001. 

      In addition to directing the star-filled and award-winning film CinemAbility, Jenni just directed a comedy feature film and is currently developing various motion picture and television projects.  Jenni also runs the corporate division of Gold Pictures which services such well-known clients as The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. Ms. Gold is also a speaker and the author of “The Gold Test” which serves as a standard for Hollywood content creators.  The “Gold Test” asks whether a work of fiction prominently features a disabled character whose story is not about their disability and whose character is not solely defined by their disability. 

      Jenni has Muscular Dystrophy and has used a wheelchair since the age of seven. She went to film school at the University of Central Florida where she graduated Summa Cum Laude with two BA degrees, one in Motion Picture Production and another in Radio and Television Broadcasting. Her passion for storytelling and entertaining an audience is clearly evident in her work and achievements.

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        Kevin Jordan

        Kevin Jordan

        Kevin Jordan is an award-winning writer/director who has had two movies theatrically presented by Martin Scorsese.

          Steven Martini

          Steven Martini

          Steven Martini is a television and feature film writer who has written numerous feature films including Lyme Life, starring Alec Baldwin, which won the film critics award at the Toronto Film Festival.

            Mark Povinelli

            Mark Povinelli

            Over his 20-year acting career, Mark Povinelli has appeared in over 50 films and television shows, 25 theater productions and dozens of national commercials, proving himself capable of spanning the entire range of medium, style and genre. Some of his work includes Water for Elephants, Mirror Mirror, and The Polar Express.  Mark was also a finalist in the 2014 Disability Film Challenge for directing his short film entry “Close Up”.

              Danny Woodburn

              Danny Woodburn

              Danny Woodburn is a veteran character actor who has acted in over 100 tv shows and movies including Seinfeld, Watchmen, and the new Ninja Turtles.  He is also on the Performers with Disabilities Committee.