Press Releases


July 12, 2022

7th Annual Women Rocking Hollywood SDCC Panel Multi-Hyphenate Female Filmmakers to Feature Diverse Group of Producer/Writer/Directors Discussing Anansi Boys, Tales of the Walking Dead, Queen Sugar, All Rise

San Diego, CA– Five women in film including four multi-hyphenates and a leading advocate for gender parity will come together to discuss their projects and the state of the industry as part of the 7th annual panel Women Rocking Hollywood: Multi-Hyphenate Female Filmmakers at the 2022 Comic-Con International on Saturday, July 23rd at 10:30am PST in Room 5AB. Discussions of their work on upcoming projects include exclusive clips and inside information on Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys, Tales of the Walking Dead, Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches. the final season of Queen Sugar, and OWN’s All Rise.

Scheduled to appear on the panel:

Writer/director/producer Haifaa Al-Mansour is the first female filmmaker in Saudi Arabia. She broke barriers as the writer/director/producer of the award-winning 2012 film Wadjda, and most released 2019’s The Perfect Candidate. Recently, she’s also been busy directing for the small screen, and will be discussing her work on Tales of the Walking Dead and Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches, as well as her own upcoming projects as writer/producer.

Writer/director/producer Hanelle Culpepper, known for her stunning work as producer/director on Star Trek: Picard, which marked the first woman to launch a new Star Trek series in its 53 year history. Her CV also includes directing episodes for shows like Westworld, NOS4A2, Star Trek: Discovery, and Kung Fu. On many of those shows, she also has  a producing credit. Culpepper will be discussing her work as director and co-executive producer on Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys, coming this fall.

Writer/producer/director Martina Mossell Lee is an up-and-coming producer/director who has won awards for her shorts Blueberry and Black Boy Joy, which won the 2021 NAACP Image Award for Best Short Narrative. She worked with Roger Ross Williams on the Emmy-winning documentary The Apollo, and on Ron Howard’s documentary Pavarotti. Currently she is developing at Warner Brothers, and works as an associate producer on OWN’s All Rise, where she just directed on episodic tv for the first time.

Writer/producer/director Shaz Bennett is known for her award-winning  2017 film Alaska is a Drag. She directed the first time for on the small screen on Season 3 of Queen Sugar, has since gone on to write and direct on shows like Billions and Bosch, and is now co-executive producer and show runner for Queen Sugar’s 7th and last season. She is attached to the new series centered on an indigenous family, Sovereign.  

The panel always has a representative associated with Women in Film: LA, which advocates for and advances the careers of women working in the screen industries to achieve parity and transform culture.

  Director of ReFrame Andria Wilson Mirza currently oversees FeFrame, the coalition of industry professionals and partner companies founded in 2017 by Women in Film and Sundance Institute with the mission to increase the number of women of all backgrounds working in the screen industries. Previously, she was the executive director of Inside Out in Toronto, Canada, one of the largest LGBTQ film festivals in the world. 

More about the panel Women Rocking Hollywood 2022: Multi-hyphenate Female Filmmakers:

“Each one Teach One” is an expression women in film know well. The best female filmmakers are overwhelmingly collaborative and inclusive, knowing that representation not only matters, it makes projects better in production and when they reach the screen. Women in film also know in addition to directing, producing, writing, and even show running their projects allow their visions to stay intact and their voices to be heard. These women are building stellar reputations and becoming more and more in demand, which also helps aspiring female filmmakers to get hired and rise in stature. Listed below are the panelists for this year’s Women Rocking Hollywood panel. They represent experience in a wide variety of film and TV genres, are dedicated to inclusion in all their projects, and will offer insights on their highly anticipated shows.


The panel is produced and moderated by film journalist Leslie Combemale, who writes for sites across the web, including and her own site, is senior contributor for the Alliance of Women Film Journalists ( and a member of the Washington Area Film Critics Association ( Women Rocking Hollywood is made possible through the aid of Women in Film: LA, OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network, and Wattpad WEBTOON. The panel is in its 7th year at San Diego Comic-Con. Former panelists have including head of physical production at Marvel, Victoria Alonso, Wonder Woman producer Deborah Snyder, Love and Basketball and Woman King writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood, actor/director and Oscar winner Regina King, and directors Catherine Hardwicke, Angela Robinson, Rosemary Rodriguez, Liesl Tommy, Nisha Ganatra, Patricia Riggen, and Victoria Mahoney. Follow Women Rocking Hollywood on Twitter,

Contact Ms. Combemale for interview opportunities with the panelists.

You can find more information about the panel on the Comic-Con International website HERE.


Leslie Combemale

Leslie Combemale

Leslie is the founder and moderator of Women Rocking Hollywood. She facilitates the annual Women Rocking Hollywood panel at San Diego Comic Con, interviews important female and LGBTQ+ figures in the film and television industry, and she advocates for the recognition and advancement of women in the media world.

In addition to her work with Women Rocking Hollywood, Leslie also writes movie reviews and conducts film maker interviews for her website Cinema Siren, for the MPAA's TheCredits, and for Animation Scoop. Leslie also owns the ArtInsights Gallery, which represents and sells film production art.


July 6, 2019

Women Rocking Hollywood Female Filmmakers Panel Featuring High Profile, Powerful Women in Film Set for the 2019 50th Anniversary of San Diego Comic-Con 

San Diego, California - The panel Women Rocking Hollywood 2019: Women-powered Projects and the Push Towards Parity featuring 8 renowned female directors, writers, and producers working in Hollywood is taking place at 2019 Comic-Con International: San Diego, on Saturday, July 20th from 2:00 to 3:00 pm. It is the fourth consecutive year that this panel has been part of the world-famous pop culture convention, which takes over the San Diego Convention Center from July 17th through the 21st. The panel will take plan in Room 7AB on the second floor of the center.
Says Women Rocking Hollywood creator and moderator, Leslie Combemale, “The panel offers an opportunity to amplify the work women are doing in the film industry to the pop culture fans who attend San Diego Comic-Con. Panels at film festivals are important, but reaching the sort of fans that attend San Diego Comic-Con, who are both loyal, and very vocal with their support through word of mouth and on social media, is also key. I believe fan support is integral to the sustained changes needed to create a more balanced, diverse collection of voices for what we all see in theaters, and on screens of every size.”
Panelists this year represent experience in a wide variety of film and TV genres, with a number of them having had major new projects announced in recent weeks:
  • Tony-nominated Liesl Tommy, recently directed the critically acclaimed Chokepoint episode in The Walking Dead, and will be helming upcoming films Born a Crime and Respect. She is also working on a theatrical musical based on The Outsiders.
  • Gloria Calderon Kellett, whose show One Day at a Time recently excited lovers of great TV when it found a new home for season 4 on the cable network Pop, will discuss the show’s resurrection and upcoming season.
  • Angela Robinson, writer/director most recently of Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, comes to the panel with very recent news that she’ll exec produce and direct Lock Every Door, based on the Riley Sager bestseller, for Paramount.
  • Catherine Hardwicke, broke all box office records with Twilight, and will be joining the panel having just finished filming the Don Cheatle and Emily Mortimer sci-fi show Don’t Look Deeper for Quibi.
  • Director Jen McGowan will discuss the international skill-sharing, networking & jobs resource for professional women in film & television called Glass Elevator, which she created in partnership with Level Forward. She also comes with breaking news about new projects, after wowing fans and critics with survival thriller Rust Creek earlier this year.
Two directors who have worked on this season’s Queen Sugar will be on-hand. Creator Ava DuVernay committed from the beginning of production to hire all female directors on the OWN network show.
  • Cheryl Dunye acted as producing director on Season 4 of Queen Sugar, and has been tapped to adapt and direct The Wonder of All Things for Lionsgate.
  • C Fitz directed soon-to-be-aired episode 9 of Queen Sugar and is writer/director/producer of the documentary Jewel’s Catch One, about the LA nightclub Catch One, and its owner Jewel Thais-Williams, which is now streaming on Netflix.
The panel always has a representative associated with Women in Film: LA, which advocates for and advances the careers of women working in the screen industries to achieve parity and transform culture.
  • Alison Emilio, the director of ReFrame, a coalition of producers, directors, agents, and studio executives actively working to achieve gender equity for female filmmakers in film, TV, and media, will be discussing forward movements and challenges for women in film this year.
With the women in attendance having so many exciting projects to discuss, and the 4% challenge, more and more shows garnering the ReFrame stamp, and interest in a gender balance in media at an all-time high, this year’s Women Rocking Hollywood is shaping up to be the most engaging, newsworthy panel in its history.
The panel is produced and moderated by film journalist Leslie Combemale, who is a member of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists ( and the Washington Area Film Critics Association (  It is made possible through the aid of Women in Film: LA and OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network, and with the financial support of Wattpad Studios. The panel is in its 4th year at San Diego Comic-Con, with former panelists including head of physical production at Marvel, Victoria Alonso, Wonder Woman producer Deborah Snyder, Love and Basketball and Beyond the Lights writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood, actress/director and Oscar winner Regina King, Patricia Riggen, and Victoria Mahoney, who recently made news by being the second unit director for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Follow Women Rocking Hollywood on Twitter.
Alison Emilio is Director of ReFrame, a joint initiative of Sundance Institute and Women In Film Los Angeles. ReFrame is a growing coalition of industry leaders and 50+ Ambassadors – producers, directors, agents, studio executives –  to bring about measurable progress in achieving gender equity and advancing female filmmakers in film, TV, and media. Prior to ReFrame, Alison served as Vice President, Marketing and Strategic Partnerships for CreativeFuture.  Her feature film work includes Lorimar Filmed Entertainment and New Line Cinema (New York and Los Angeles) as Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications, responsible for the marketing, publicity, and promotional campaigns for more than 25 films, as well as corporate and financial communications. She established the U.S. office of the Ontario Media Development Corporation, generating over $150 million in revenue. Alison serves on the Advisory Board of the Horizon Award, which advances gender parity in media and provides sponsorship and mentorship to the next generation of female filmmakers. Emilio’s producing credits include Handmade Films’ Dinner at Fred’s, starring Parker Posey, Gil Bellows, and Christopher Lloyd, Drowning on Dry Land, starring Barbara Hershey and Naveen Andrews, and Someone is Watching, starring Stephanie Powers, for Lifetime.
Liesl Tommy is known as a multi-award winning stage director, garnering six Tony Award nominations for Eclipsed, including Best Director. She is known for her provocative world premieres and re-imagining classics with racially diverse casts in several shows, including a 2012 production of Hamlet at California Shakespeare Theatre and an internationally acclaimed production of Les Misérables. She also developed and directed Frozen Live, the multi-media theatrical extravaganza adaptation of the Disney film for the Hyperion Theater in Disneyland. She was recently announced as director for Born A Crime, the film adaptation of the autobiography by the same name by Trevor Noah starring Lupita Nyong'o for Paramount, and will also be helming Respect, an Aretha Franklin biopic starring Jennifer Hudson for MGM.  Tommy recently directed the much-lauded, highly-rated Chokepoint episode of this season’s AMC's The Walking Dead, and Episode 4 of season 3 of Jessica JonesA.K.A Customer Service is Standing By.  She has also directed for HBO's Insecure and OWN's Queen Sugar, created by Ava DuVernay.
Gloria Calderon Kellett is the executive producer, co-showrunner, director and actor on the critically acclaimed sitcom One Day at a Time, coming to POP TV in 2020. She wrote and executive produced the comedy pilot History of Them at CBS, was a writer/producer on the CW’s iZombie, LIFETIME’s Devious Maids, ABC’s Mixology,  and Rules of Engagement and How I Met Your Mother, both for CBS. The proud daughter of Cuban immigrants, Gloria was the first in her family to go to college. She is a former stand-up comic and was a founding member of the sketch comedy group “And Donkey Makes Five.” Acting credits include Jane The Virgin, Angie Tribeca, Dead To Me, How I Met Your Mother, Trophy Wife and One Day at a Time. Awards for her work include The Television Academy Honors, Mental Health America Media Award, ALMA Award, Imagen Award, Vanguard Award, NHMC Award, Sentinel Award, and The Voice Award. She is also one of the few creatives to have the distinction of receiving a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes for One Day At A Time. She has been honored as an industry leader by The Hollywood Reporter, in their Top Women in Entertainment, the THR100 list, and their 50 Agents of Change issues.
Angela Robinson a pioneering director of film and TV, has always had a deep commitment to and interest in strong female protagonists, and it reflects in her body of work. Her first feature, D.E.B.S., which she also wrote, featured a diverse group of schoolgirls who get groomed by a secret government agency to become members of elite defense group. In 2005, with Disney's Herbie: Fully Loaded, she became only the third black woman ever to direct a feature film produced by a major film studio. The film’s combined international and domestic box office crossed the $100 million line, which was a milestone for a female director, it was additionally notable for Robinson’s intersectionality as a gay woman of color. Robinson has worked on a number of high-profile shows on the small screen, producing, writing, directing on The L Word, How to Get Away with Murder, Hung, and True Blood. Her most recent big screen release was as writer and director of the critically acclaimed Professor Marston and the Wonder Women in 2017. Last year, Robinson received the Achievement Award at the 2018 Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ Film Festival, the fest’s most prestigious prize, and was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science’s directing branch. In early 2019, she inked an overall deal with Paramount TV to develop new projects. As part of that, it was announced on July 2nd that she will be co-exec producing and directing a series based on the new hit novel Lock Every Door, a thriller drama that made multiple summer 2019 reads lists.
Catherine Hardwicke’s films have helped to redefine popular culture, showcase notable figures from the past, and raise light on important social issues. Hardwicke’s early successes were as a production designer on films directed by Richard Linklater, David O. Russell, Cameron Crowe, Lisa Cholodenko, and Costa Gavras. Her first film as a director was the critically-acclaimed Thirteen, which garnered numerous awards and nominations including the Director’s Award at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival, Golden Globe nominations for Holly Hunter and Evan Rachel Wood, an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for Holly Hunter, and an Independent Spirit Award for Nikki Reed. Hardwicke has since become best known as the director of Twilight, which launched the worldwide blockbuster franchise The Twilight Saga, and earned nearly $400 million at the worldwide box office. Her book, The Twilight Director’s Notebook, was an international best seller, translated into 20 languages. Her most recent film Miss Bala, released in February of 2019, starred Gina Rodriguez and Ismael Cruz Cordova. A passionate believer in paying it forward, she frequently works as a mentor at labs for the Sundance Institute, Film Independent, and the Ghetto Film School, and teaches workshops at film schools and film festivals around the world. Hardwicke is currently in production on the new Quibi show Don’t Look Deeper, which stars Don Cheadle and Emily Mortimer.
Jen McGowan is a director based in Los Angeles. Her most recent feature film, the survival thriller Rust Creek, was released in theaters January 2019 by IFC Midnight and hailed as “the feminist thriller Hollywood needs right now” by Harpers Bazaar. McGowan's first feature Kelly and Cal, starring Juliette Lewis and Cybill Shepherd, premiered at SXSW, where she won the Gamechanger Award. The film was released theatrically by IFC Films to rave reviews.  In partnership with Level Forward, she is the creator of Glass Elevator, an international skill-sharing, networking & jobs resource for professional women in film & television. With over 3,500 members, Glass Elevator was named Best in LA by LA Weekly, is part of the Sundance Women’s Initiative Resource, and was featured in Forbes. Take the Lead Foundation identified McGowan one of 50 Women Who Will Change the World in Media & Entertainment, and WeForShe selected her for the 2019 DirectHer program. A Film Independent Fellow, finalist for the Clint Eastwood Filmmakers Award, and recipient of the AWD Breakout Award for Excellence in Directing, she was named one of Vulture’s Women Directors Hollywood Should Be Hiring.
Cheryl Dunye returns to season four of Queen Sugar as a producing director having previously directed episodes of the series in season two as a first-time television director. Dunye is considered the most influential African American filmmaker to emerge from New Queer Cinema wave of the mid-1990s. Her groundbreaking first film The Watermelon Woman won the Teddy Award for Best Feature at Berlinale in 1996. Her 2002 follow-up, HBO's Stranger Inside, was nominated for four Independent Spirit Awards, including Best Director. Since 2017, she has directed episodes of David Makes Man and Love Is___ for OWN and Warner Horizon, Claws for TNT, The Chi for Showtime, Star on Fox, and The Fosters for Freeform. She is now set to write & direct The Wonder Of All Things for Lionsgate.
C. Fitz is an accomplished film and television director, producer and writer, as well as marketing professional. As a filmmaker, TV showrunner and film director, she has won multiple awards for her scripted and unscripted work, as well as developed TV series, including Bravo’s Queer Eye for The Straight Guy, and ABC Family’s Knock First. In her digital work, she has produced award-winning social media branding content, winning four Webby Awards for creative digital campaigns. Recently Fitz directed, produced, and co-wrote her second feature documentary Jewel’s Catch One, distributed by Ava DuVernay’s company ARRAY. Currently she is working as a director and developing scripted series and documentary films. Queen Sugar marks Fitz’s scripted television directorial debut.
For additional information or for interview inquiries, please contact Leslie Combemale / Women Rocking Hollywood /
T. (571) 246-6906  /
Women Rocking Hollywood website:
Panel page on Comic-Con International: San Diego’s schedule:
Leslie Combemale

Leslie Combemale

Leslie is the founder and moderator of Women Rocking Hollywood. She facilitates the annual Women Rocking Hollywood panel at San Diego Comic Con, interviews important female and LGBT+ figures in the film and television industry, and she advocates for the recognition and advancement of women in the media world.

In addition to her work with Women Rocking Hollywood, Leslie also writes movie reviews and conducts film maker interviews for her website Cinema Siren, for the MPAA's TheCredits, and for Animation Scoop. Leslie also owns the ArtInsights Gallery, which represents and sells film production art.