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Leslie Combemale Creator & Moderator, Women Rocking Hollywood 

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Women Rocking Hollywood Panel of High-Profile Powerful Female Filmmakers at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con, July 20

San Diego, CA – Eight renowned female directors, writers, and producers are set to take part in the panel, Women Rocking Hollywood 2019: Women-powered Projects and the Push Towards Parity at the 2019 Comic-Con International in San Diego. For the fourth consecutive year this panel has been part of the world-famous pop culture convention, celebrating its 50th Anniversary, which takes over the San Diego Convention Center from July 17 through July 21. The Women Rocking Hollywood panel will take place on Saturday, July 20 from 2:00 to 3:00 pm in Room 7AB on the second floor of the center. 

“This panel amplifies the work women are doing in the film industry to the pop culture fans who attend San Diego Comic-Con,” says Leslie Combemale, creator and moderator of Women Rocking Hollywood. “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. 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.” 

Listed below are the panelists for 2019 who 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. With 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.  

• Tony-nominated Liesl Tommy, who 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, who broke all box office records with Twilight, will be joining the panel having just finished filming the Don Cheadle and Emily Mortimer sci-fi show Don’t Look Deeper for Quibi. 

• Director Jen McGowan will discuss the international skill-sharing, networking and jobs resource for professional women in film and 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. 


The panel is produced and moderated by film journalist Leslie Combemale, who writes for her own site as well as and other sites across the web, is a member of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists ( and the Washington Area Film Critics Association ( Women Rocking Hollywood 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 Jones, A.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, and 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 Harper’s 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 and jobs resource for professional women in film and television. With more than 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.

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For additional information and interview inquiries, contact Leslie Combemale / Women Rocking Hollywood /

T. 571-246-6906  / 


Women Rocking Hollywood website:


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