AUSTIN (January 12, 2023) – Today,  Indeed, the world’s number one job site,  actor Lena Waithe and her company Hillman Grad, and 271 Films announced ten filmmakers  participating in season three of Indeed’s Rising Voices. Rising Voices was created to uncover, invest in and share stories created by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) filmmakers across the US to tell diverse stories around the meaning of work, and the idea that jobs create opportunities and better lives for all. Each filmmaker will premiere their short film at the Tribeca Festival in June 2023 around the theme, Future of Work.  

The 10 selected filmmaker include (bios below):

  • Ana Verde
  • Candace Ho
  • Hannah Bang
  • Jackie! Zhou
  • James Rogers III
  • Joey Xuetong Zhao
  • Justin Kim WooSŏk
  • Larry Owens
  • Maria Alvarez
  • Miguel Angel Caballero

“We are thrilled to continue this special partnership with Indeed to support diverse filmmakers,” said Lena Waithe, Hillman Grad Founder and Rishi Rajani, Hillman Grad CEO. “This year marks season three of Rising Voices, and we are blown away by the amazing talent featured in this class and we can’t wait to see the intentional stories they will bring to the screen. We look forward to working with these amazing filmmakers and providing them with everything they need to succeed.”

The Future of Work theme for Rising Voices for Season 3 comes as we are experiencing a watershed moment in jobs and workplace experiences. Today, employees hold more power than ever before and have shifted the conversation around workplace flexibility norms, personal wellbeing and mental health, and have placed increased demands for accountability around company values. With the world of work rapidly changing, Rising Voices is an opportunity to elevate the voices of those not often heard who are living through the changes of today and who envision the workplace of tomorrow. 

“Indeed’s mission is to help people get jobs. Together with our incredible partners,  Lena Waithe, Hillman Grad Productions and 271 Films, Rising Voices makes it possible to not only open doors for BIPOC filmmakers, but creates a window for all of us to see the world of work through a different lens,” said Chris Hyams, Indeed CEO. “We believe talent is universal, but opportunity is not. With Season 3, we look forward to seeing new stories that offer that new lens to reimagine the future of work.” 

Indeed’s investment in Rising Voices helps provide filmmakers with a production budget of up to $100,000 to create a short film. As part of the Rising Voices initiative, filmmakers also receive mentoring and guidance from veteran filmmakers, including: Lena Waithe, Destin Daniel Cretton, Diego Velasco, Anthony Hemingway, Tiff Johnson and Naima Ramos Chapman. The filmmakers will also be compensated $5,000 for writing their original script and $5,000 for directing. This season, Indeed, Hillman Grad Productions and 271 Films are hosting a Filmmaker Bootcamp in Los Angeles, where filmmakers will get the opportunity to meet Indeed CEO Chris Hyams, Hillman Grad CEO Rishi Rajani, 271 Films founders, Constanza and Doménica Castro, along with mentors who will help refine program scripts. 

“It’s such an honor to hit the three-year milestone of the Rising Voices initiative as we once again open the doors to opportunity for underrepresented BIPOC creatives,” said LaFawn Davis, SVP, Environmental, Social & Governance at Indeed. “The filmmakers not only get to bring their vision to life on screen, but they receive mentorship and the ability to make new connections and inspire others. With the workforce completely transforming over the last few years, we look forward to seeing what the future of work looks like through the eyes of these very talented and creative filmmakers.” 

Rising Voices along with participating filmmakers have been receiving worldwide recognition from prominent film festivals including: Tribeca, Sundance, Hong Kong Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, AFI Fest, Pan African Film and the 45th Asian American Film Festival, among others. In addition, filmmakers who have completed the Rising Voices program have gone on to direct episodes of ‘The Chi’ on Showtime, ‘‘Chicago Fire’ on NBC, become Netflix staff writers, directed commercial TV work for Jeep and Oakley, and have been nominated for NAACP Image Awards. Additionally, more than 1,000 jobs have been created throughout the process. 

2023 Rising Voices Season Three filmmakers Biographies

Ana Verde
Ana Verde is a Puerto Rican and Venezuelan filmmaker. She is currently in post-production for her short film Te llaman las olas, a co-production with Puerto Rican production company Filmes Casa, which she wrote and directed. Ana is a 2022 Orchard Project Episodic Lab fellow (The Orchard Project), a 2022 WAVE Grant Recipient (Wavelength Productions), and her monologue Play the Sun was a finalist for the 2022 Ya Tú Sabes Monologue Slam (Nosotros Org & NBCUniversal). She is incredibly excited to form part of Season 3 of Indeed Rising Voices with the Hillman Grad Foundation. For the past four years, Ana has worked in artist support at the Sundance Institute disbursing grants to artists working in fiction and nonfiction across various mediums.

Candace Ho
Candace Ho is a Taiwanese American filmmaker based in Los Angeles. She received her BA with Honors from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television with a concentration in narrative directing. Her work explores mental health, womanhood, coming of age, and feelings of “otherness” and loneliness in an increasingly isolating world. She is a 2021 Armed with a Camera fellow, a 2021 DB Frieze LA Fellow, and a two-time Wavelength Production WAVE Grant Finalist. Her short films have screened at festivals across the country, including Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, San Diego Asian Film Festival, and Asian American International Film Festival.

Hannah Bang
Hannah Bang is a South Korean writer/director who loves stories about complex and imperfect people. Hannah’s work covers a wide range of forms including an ensemble theater play Prodigy for the Hollywood Fringe Fest, a sponsored short film Ripple Effect that was shot using StageCraft, and a collaboration feature project Voodoo Macbeth which had a theatrical release. Bang is a Jon Chu scholar and a recipient of the James Bridges and Jack Larson Directing Scholarship at USC and the Entertainment Technology Center Innovative Technology Award. She is also a 2022 Project Involve Fellow. Her latest short film Expectant is scheduled to have its premiere screening this year, and she is currently developing her first feature film Husk. Her work has been screened at festivals such as SXSW, Palm Springs IFF, and Cleveland IFF, and has been hosted by online platforms such as  Vimeo Staff Pick and DUST.

Jackie! Zhou
Jackie! Zhou is non-binary and ageless. They are a Los Angeles-based artist, director, and sound designer keen on blurring the lines between formats and disciplines. Embracing maximalism, their style leans towards heightening the absurd while staying grounded in real emotions. This work has led them to document an all-girls competitive robotics team, perform John Cage’s Water Walk at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and teach as an artist-in-residence at UC Davis. Recent work includes the interactive documentary FaceTime, produced by POV Spark and NFB, and “thumbnail,” a work-in-progress experimental play. Their sound work has received a Primetime Emmy nomination, a MPSE Golden Reel, and the 2021 Tribeca X Award. Most recently, they performed in Free Solo: The Musical in the role of Jimmy Chin. Above all, they believe good listeners make great storytellers.

James Rogers III
James Rogers III is an award-winning writer, producer, and director from Compton, California. He tells stories that center otherness in deeply imaginative (often fantastical) worlds, showcasing the magic of inner-city opulence that inspires him to create and audiences to dream. He has written and produced Emmy-nominated content for Disney+, Showtime, Netflix, Amazon, and more. Before storytelling, James directed a literary summer school in South LA, worked on Capitol Hill during the Obama years, and nearly became a lawyer alongside his father. James graduated from USC’s Peter Stark Producing MFA Program; his thesis project “Felix” is an award-winning animated short that screened across various festivals. James loves planning murder mystery parties and roller skating and knows more about Pokémon than anyone should.

Joey Xuetong Zhao
Born and raised in China, Joey Zhao is an award-winning director. She was selected by the Young director support Program of Beijing Liangjie Culture Media Co., Ltd. Inspired by magic realism and animation; Joey has been mentored by renowned director Emir Kusturica. Her AFI Thesis Film, FINDING VEGA, has been selected to premiere at the 26th LA Shorts International Film Festival. Her short film IN THE SILENCE addressed sexual assault from her personal experience and was selected for dozens of film festivals and exhibitions worldwide. With a Film & TV BFA at the Central Academy of Drama, Joey was funded by the Chinese Scholarship Council to study at American Film Institute. Joey wants to tell stories that promote awareness for marginalized minorities and explore themes of females, family, and death. 

Justin Kim WooSŏk
Born in South Korea and raised in LA, Justin has lived and worked across Latin America, Europe, and Asia. He graduated from Wesleyan with an honor degree in Film and American Studies and currently spends his time between Brooklyn and Seoul. He is interested in the intersection of fiction and nonfiction, of ethnography and speculation, and diaspora and homeland.

Larry Owens
Larry Owens is a multi-hyphenate artist whose work has appeared prominently in the arenas of theater, television, film, comedy, and music. Training: The School at Steppenwolf. Larry is ecstatic to be making his directorial debut with Indeed, 271 Films, and Hillman Grad Productions.

María Alvarez
María Alvarez is an internationally recognized Cuban-Dutch filmmaker. She graduated from the University of Southern California with a BFA in Film & Television Production. Her films have screened at dozens of festivals such as the Los Angeles Film Festival and Cleveland International Film Festival, won awards from institutions such as Google, and screened in museums like MoMA. She worked as a Director’s Assistant to Benedict Andrews on “Seberg,” starring Kristen Stewart and shot by Rachel Morrison. Her short film, ‘Split Ends,’ was a 2021 Horizon Finalist, premiered at the NALIP Latino Media Fest, and then went on to screen at the Cannes Court Métrage and NewFilmmakers LA hosted by the Academy. She worked as the Creative Editor at FREE THE WORK, a global talent discovery platform for underrepresented creators founded by director Alma Har’el. She is in the festival circuit with her latest short film, ‘did i look cuban then?,’ which premiered at the 2022 Santa Barbara International Film Festival and was nominated for Best Documentary at NFFTY. She is currently in pre-production of her next short, ‘Last Days of the Lab.’ María is now a freelance director and photographer in the narrative, music video, and commercial space.

Miguel Angel Caballero
Miguel Angel Caballero, the son of Mexican immigrant farmworkers, is an award-winning Queer Mexican-American/Chicano writer, producer, and director. He received his bachelor’s degree from the school of Theater, Film & Television at UCLA. His latest short film, ‘Acuitzeramo,’ premiered at the Morelia International Film Festival and won 21 awards, including ‘Best Short’ at the Imagen Awards and ‘Best LGBTQ Short’ in the American Pavilion at the Cannes Film Festival. His previous film, ‘Broken Sunflower Hearts,’ was named by Remezcla Magazine as one of the year’s Best Short Films by US Latino Directors. Miguel Angel co-wrote and produced the PSA ‘Know Your Rights’ for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA). He was selected to participate in the 2022 inaugural Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Accelerator Program. He’s an Outfest Screenwriting Lab Fellow, Film Independent fellow, and recipient of the Warner Bros Discovery 150 Artist Grant. Miguel Angel is co-founder of Cabaldana Alchemy, a company whose mission is to create working-class U.S. Latine stories from an LGBTQ perspective.

###

About Indeed

More people find jobs on Indeed than anywhere else. Indeed is the #1 job site in the world (Comscore, Total Visits, September 2022) and allows job seekers to search millions of jobs in more than 60 countries and 28 languages. Over 3 million employers use Indeed to find and hire new employees. More than 300 million unique visitors  each month search for jobs, post resumes, and research companies on Indeed, and Indeed delivers 2.5X more hires than other branded job sites combined (Among BreezyHR clients, Sources of Hire Report 2021, U.S.). For more information, visit indeed.com. 

About Hillman Grad

Hillman Grad was founded by actor, producer and Emmy®-winning writer Lena Waithe and CEO Rishi Rajani to empower and provide industry access to underrepresented artists and amplify the stories of diverse, historically marginalized communities across all industries.

Hillman Grad, the company’s development and production arm, is home to the producers behind award-winning films like The Forty-Year-Old Version and Queen & Slim, and most recently, they released the Netflix drama Beauty, written by Waithe. Hillman Grad has upcoming projects set at Netflix, BET, Disney, Amazon, Universal, Showtime, HBO/HBO Max, and Focus Features, including A.V. Rockwell’s feature debut A Thousand And One, starring Teyana Taylor, which is set for a March 2023 release; the Disney Studios high school basketball movie Chang Can Dunk for Disney+; and Being Mary: The Mary Tyler Moore Documentary, directed by James Adolphus. For television, they recently signed a multi-year exclusive overall deal with Warner Bros. Television Group. Prior to the WBTVG deal, they executive produced “The Chi” for Showtime, BET’s hit series “Twenties,” and “Twenties the After Show,” hosted by B. Scott, for BET+.

The company has expanded to include Hillman Grad Records, a label in partnership with Def Jam Recordings; a multi-project development deal with Audible, under which the first project release was Kym, an original, scripted comedy series inspired by the life of Emmy-nominated actress/comedian Kym Whitley; and a partnership with independent book publishing company Zando. As one of Zando’s first founding publishing partners, Hillman Grad will acquire and publish four to six books over a three-year period, including memoirs, young adult titles, and literary fiction.

Hillman Grad also has two groundbreaking, inclusivity-focused initiatives under its umbrella: The Hillman Grad Mentorship Lab, offering opportunities for marginalized storytellers to connect, grow, and accelerate their careers in television and film through personalized instruction from industry professionals in writing, screen acting, and executive development; and the Rising Voices Initiative in partnership with Indeed, which allowed ten BIPOC filmmakers to create short films with a production budget of $100,000 each, currently in its third season.

About 271 Films

271 Films, founded by Constanza and Doménica Castro, develops and produces original stories with a focus on stories from underrepresented storytellers and communities across film, TV, music videos and commercials. Alongside Lena Waithe’s Hillman Grad Productions, the company co-runs the Indeed Rising Voices mentorship program that is in its third season to empower the next generation of BIPOC filmmakers. 271 Films brings stories that push boundaries, provoke, inspire, and entertain a global audience.