Stories that celebrate the human spirit

September 26-30th, 2018

STORIES THAT CELEBRATE THE HUMAN SPIRIT

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Meet Our Special Guests

Zach Anner

Zach Anner

Comedian, YouTube

Zach Anner

Zach Anner

Comedian, YouTube

Zach Anner Comedian, author, television writer, public speaker, and YouTube personality. In 2011, Zach won his own travel show on the Oprah Winfrey Network, Rollin’ With Zach and went on to create & host the shows Have A Little Faith & Earth Your While for Rainn Wilson’s media company SoulPancake. He also released the Google & Reddit backed series Riding Shotgun and the popular Workout Wednesdays on his own YouTube channel. Zach’s work combines warmth, authenticity, irreverence, and infectious optimism to create “meaningful silliness” – humorous content that delivers substantive messages with the laughs. His ability to connect with audiences and knack for creating viral content has netted his videos over a hundred million views across social media platforms and helped change the conversation around disability. He is an ambassador for the Cerebral Palsy Foundation and has worked with United Cerebral Palsy’s Wheels for Humanity program to distribute wheelchairs to disadvantaged communities in Nicaragua. Zach’s candid and hilarious memoir, If At Birth You Don’t Succeed, was published in 2016 to rave reviews. In 2017 he was invited to guest star opposite Minnie Driver on an episode of “Speechless” – a comedic sitcom about a special needs family. ABC hired him as a full-time staff writer for Season 2. A native of Buffalo, NY, Zach now lives in Los Angeles and spends most of his spare time in his underwear, thinking about how he can change the world.
Obba Babatundé

Obba Babatundé

Obba Babatundé

Obba Babatundé

Obba Babatundé Obba's many awards and nominations include his Daytime Emmy Award (2016) for CBS’s Bold & the Beautiful, his Emmy nominated performance in the HBO movie "Miss Evers' Boys,” his Tony Award nomination for his role as "C.C. White," in the original Broadway cast of "Dreamgirls,” his "Best Actor" Award for the Musical “Sammy” from the San Diego Critic’s Circle Awards, his NAACP Image Award as "Best Actor" for his role as "Sarge" in "A Soldiers Play", the NAACP Trailblazer Award, an NAACP Image Award-nominated performance in the HBO movie "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge," multiple Ovation Award nominations, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Peachtree Village International Film Festival. Obba has appeared in more than 17 stage productions (several on Broadway), 33 films, 60+ television series and made-for-television movies. Presently, Obba can be seen in 4 prime-time series for; Netflix (Dear White People), Showtime (I’m Dying Up Here), Comedy Central (Detroiters) and CBS (Bold & Beautiful). Many people will remember him from his international tour, co-starring with Liza Minnelli in “Liza in Concert,” which lead to his close relationship with professional mentor, Sammy Davis Jr. His distinct, unique speaking and singing voice can be heard in multiple ads, commercials, as well as narration for docu-dramas. His animation career includes the feature film The Wild Thornberrys, Air Bud Entertainment/Fandango Production’s Pup Star movies, Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike and Disney Infinity 3.0 [1] and Rocket Power … to name a few. Obba’s writing, directing and producing skills include the Lionsgate Home Entertainment feature film "American Bad Boy" starring Katt Williams, co-producer and director of "Oscar's Black Odyssey," co-producer of "Dorothy Dandridge An American Beauty," co-producer of "TV in Black The First 50 Years." He was the associate producer of the horror classic film "Voodoo Dolls" and the executive producer and director of the award-winning short films "Journey" and "Clarissa's Gift." He co-authored, directed and produced the critically-acclaimed theatrical stage play "In The Blink of An Eye." Obba studied under many noted directors and choreographers like Geoffrey Holder, Bob Fossey, Michael Bennett, Hal Prince, Thelma Hill, Frank Hatchett, Henry LeTang, Louis Johnson and Titos Sompa just to name a few. Obba was a co-founder with his brother Akin Babatundé and teacher of one of NYC’s first arts-based schools (in Brooklyn, NY). “As proud as I am of all that I have done, I am even more excited about what I am to do.” - Obba Babatundé
Justice Richard Berstein

Justice Richard Berstein

Justice Richard Berstein

Justice Richard Berstein

Justice Richard Bernstein, Michigan State Supreme Court Justice, is the first blind and youngest State Supreme Court Justice in the U.S. Blind since birth, Justice Bernstein is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Michigan and earned his juris doctorate from Northwestern University School of Law. As an attorney, Justice Bernstein’s cases set national standards for protection of the rights and safety of people with and without disabilities. He represented the Paralyzed Veterans of America in partnership with the United States Department of Justice to help establish guidelines that are used by all commercial facilities across the country. He represented disabled residents against the Oakland County, Michigan Road Commission after roundabout traffic circles were built without disabled access. This ruling impacted future ADA compliance for road construction throughout the US. Finally, in a landmark settlement against Delta Airlines and Detroit Metro Airport, Bernstein gained accessibility for disabled fliers, helping set the standard for which airlines and airports are to be covered under the ADA. Justice Bernstein has completed 18 marathons and 1 triathlon.
Jim Brunzell

Jim Brunzell

Jury

Jim Brunzell

Jim Brunzell

Jury

Jim Brunzell (aGLIFF- The All Genders, Lifestyles, and Identities Film Festival) is the Program Director for the All Genders, Lifestyles and Identities Film Festival (aGLIFF) in Austin, TX and the 31st annual festival took place in September 2018. He is also the festival director for the music/film/art festival Sound Unseen in the Twin Cities, MN, which was just named "One of the 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World for 2016" by Moviemaker Magazine. He has served on numerous film festival juries and he is also a big sports nerd."
Michael Chenevert

Michael Chenevert

Jury

Michael Chenevert

Michael Chenevert

Jury

Michael Chenevert: Actor/Producer, Star of Off-Broadway play, "An Adam Experiment.” Michael grew up in the fervent city of Detroit, Michigan. His family has an African-American ancestry with history in the Americas dating back as far as 1724. He attended University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy and further studied in the BFA program at University of Detroit Mercy. Michael has also spent some time in Ireland studying at The LIR at Trinity College and in New York at The Barrow Group. Michael continues his coaching with the great Susan Batson.  Member of Screen Actors Guild.  TV credits include Ugly Betty, Boardwalk Empire, Law and Order SVU, and The Following. His film credits include, Syrup, Eugenia and John, The Tombs, Soul.
Amber Espinosa Jones

Amber Espinosa Jones

Jury

Amber Espinosa Jones

Amber Espinosa Jones

Jury

Amber Espinosa Jones: Diversity Initiative, Sundance; worked for Latino Theater Company, Market Road Films, the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP), and  ImaginexJustice;worked at Sundance Institute on their fundraising and leadership team and currently works as the Outreach & Inclusion Coordinator.
Matthew Faraci

Matthew Faraci

Jury

Matthew Faraci

Matthew Faraci

Jury

Matthew Faraci Host of Frankly Faraci on Dove Channel and President of Inspire Buzz; former political strategist who has served on more than 35 campaigns and on Capitol Hill; held leadership roles with three respected Washington, D.C. public policy groups, and was appointed by President George W Bush to serve as a spokesman at the U.S. Department of Labor; produced award-winning TV shows and documentaries. Following his career in politics, Faraci played a leading role in creating several new enterprises with a focus on deploying highly-targeted grassroots strategies to reach family-friendly audiences. During this time, he promoted a number of well-known, highly successful film and TV projects. In 2016, Faraci returned to Los Angeles and founded Inspire Buzz with a singular focus on delivering the values audience, one-in-three U.S. moviegoers. In 2017, Faraci created and hosted an inspiring series designed to break new ground in entertainment. Frankly Faraci, Dove Channel’s first original program, is in its first season with season two in the works, has already earned rave reviews and broad media coverage, as well as a growing following across the country.
Tim Gordon

Tim Gordon

Jury

Tim Gordon

Tim Gordon

Jury

Tim Gordon: Critic and Founder of the Lakefront Film Festival; created The Black Reel Awards in 2000; created the educational infrastructure the Foundation for the Advancement of African-Americans in Film (FAAAF) in 2004; President of Washington (D.C.) Area Film Critics (WAFCA); created the movie brand, "FilmGordon" consolidating his film content and social media platforms under one umbrella; member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA). Currently, hosts Keeping It Reel with FilmGordon on 96.3 HD4 on DC Radio.
Jenn Jordan

Jenn Jordan

Jenn Jordan

Jenn Jordan

Jenn have been waking up Cincinnati since 2002. As the Morning Show Personality for Cincinnati's Q102 radio station, Jenn leads the successful "Jeff & Jenn Show" that airs weekdays from 5:30 am-10:00 am. One of Jenn’s favorite moments with Q was arranging the first Autism Speaks walk in Cincinnati when more than 3,000 people came out in the pouring rain to support families like hers who are living with autism. It’s being involved with events like this, as well as Bras Across the Bridge and the Cincinnati MDA Muscle Walk that makes Jenn so proud to call Q102 their radio home. You’ll find Jenn most often hanging out with her awesome son, Jakob, or working on her many hidden talents which include tap dancing, belting out show tunes, fitting her whole fist in her mouth and knowing the number of every value meal at McDonald’s, Arby’s and Wendy’s.
Courtney Parker

Courtney Parker

Jury

Courtney Parker

Courtney Parker

Jury

Courtney Parker: VP of Alternative Programming, Adaptive Studios; wrote for Law & Order; wrote the novella series for Wolf Film's Chicago Fire; celebrity ghostwriter, novelist, and children's book author; Executive In Charge of Production at TVOne; Executive/Co-Executive for Oxygen; member of the Writer's Guild of America West; Co- Founder of the newly launched imprint Monami Books, a division of the Atria/Simon and Schuster Publishing Company.
Carrie Preston

Carrie Preston

Carrie Preston

Carrie Preston

With her bubbly persona and drive to perform, CARRIE PRESTON has landed roles in everything from stage to the big screen to a starring role as Arlene Fowler, the red-headed sassy waitress in the Golden Globe nominated HBO series TRUE BLOOD. She played the scatterbrained, genius lawyer Elsbeth Tascioni on THE GOOD WIFE, for which she won an Emmy Award. Carrie currently plays Polly, a Floridian manicurist who is involved with the Dixie mafia, on TNT’s hit series CLAWS. Preston’s breakout was her Outer Critics Award nominated turn as “Miranda” in George C. Woolf’s Broadway production of Shakespeare’s THE TEMPEST with Patrick Stewart. Following that, she made her auspicious big screen debut and has played diverse roles in many varied and critically acclaimed films. On television, she has worked as a series regular and has done guest appearances for a number of successful series. Carrie is also a director and producer with her production company, Daisy 3 Pictures. Her directorial debut was the feature film 29th AND GAY, written by and starring James Vasquez, which was released on DVD by TLA Releasing. The latest film Carrie directed, a comedy concert film starring Kate Rigg called “Happy Lucky Golden Tofu Panda Good Time Fun Fun Show.”, had its world premiere at the Soho International Film Festival and is a selected film for the Over-the-Rhine International Film Festival.
Tanika Ray

Tanika Ray

Tanika Ray

Tanika Ray

Tanika Ray Entertainment Journalist, Pop Culture Specialist, Director, Producer, TV Personality, Host and Mommie. Tanika Ray, known for her insider Hollywood & Pop Culture POV, is focused on the big picture. Not only does she deftly manage the multi-layered responsibility of hosting and producing live events, but she has a unique ability to connect with guests one-on-one, holding her own as a pop culture expert on multiple platforms, most prominently TV. Back at Extra as Host after 8 years, Tanika spent her time connecting with her purpose, giving birth to her beloved daughter and flexing other talents in her wheelhouse. Her mommy schedule allowed her to squeeze in short term jobs, most recently hosting Hollywood Today Live, CW’s Oh Sit, Lifetime’s The Rap Game’s Reunion show, 2 seasons of Lifetime’s Little Women LA Reunion specials and 2 shows for the wildly popular HGTV network, Design Star and HGTV'd . Tanika also paved her path into creating, directing and producing content that inspires & unites. She directed and produced 2 mini films for TVOne’s award winning Black History Month salute titled, Change Agents. And she satisfies her community responsibility by producing content to amplify the voice of Black Women and inspire them to harness their power. Now that Tanika is a mom, she feels even closer to her ultimate goal than ever before. Her daughter inspires her everyday and has taught her the powerful lesson to never look back but to fiercely focus on what’s NEXT!!
Maya Solis

Maya Solis

Jury

Maya Solis

Maya Solis

Jury

Maya Solis: Manager, Native Film Program, Sundance; Senior Manager for the Native American and Indigenous Program at Sundance Institute; manages the implementation of the Native Forum at Sundance Film Festival, Native Filmmakers Lab Fellowship, the Time Warner Producer Fellowship, the Full-Circle Fellowship and the Merata Mita Fellowship; Vice-Chair for Vision Maker Media.
Stephen J. Wampler

Stephen J. Wampler

Stephen J. Wampler

Stephen J. Wampler

One of the first things you’ll notice about Stephen visually is that he is in a wheelchair and has Cerebral Palsy, CP. Then you’ll get to know him as a person and you’ll see how little CP defines who he is. Stephen not only lives with disability, but thrives and wants to ensure that others have the same opportunity. Stephen started the Wampler Foundation in 2002 with his wife, Elizabeth, so that children with disabilities could be active participants in programs and activities that are centered around the great outdoors. They have since enabled thousands of kids with physical disabilities and often economic limitations to experience the joys and camaraderie of camp and the experiences that push each child to discover how capable they really are and to expect only big things ahead. Stephen and Elizabeth have big plans to expand their youth programs nationwide and internationally in order to help more kids lead full and ambitious lives, despite physical obstacles. Stephen knew he needed to do something to lead by example to show the world what he could do as a person with CP, to become a role model to others with disabilities. Stephen’s favorite Quote is from the US Navy Seals, "Failure is not an option." Stephen followed this motto when he was the first person to climb the biggest rock face in the world, El Captain mountain in Yosemite National Park. Wampler's Ascent is a documentary about Stephen Wampler and his amazing accomplishment of being the first person with Cerebral Palsy to climb El Captain mountain. As a demonstration of the mission of the foundation and an opportunity to bring international awareness in sending children with disabilities to the same summer camp Stephen attended when he was an adolescent. The Wamplers documented, “Wampler’s Ascent” and his heroic climb, the film has received national and international acclaim with 35 laurel leafs and 20 film festival awards to date.

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