Logo icon

SeriesFest and Shondaland Announce Recipient of Fourth Annual "Women Directing Mentorship" Award

December 08, 2022

We are elated to announce, in partnership with our friends at Shondaland, that the winner of the 2022 Women Directing Mentorship competition is writer/director Gia-Rayne B. Harris.

The Women Directing Mentorship, which first launched in 2018 in partnership with Shondaland — the prolific storytelling company founded by Shonda Rhimes and long known for inspiring inclusion in front of and behind the camera — offers a unique opportunity for a rising female director to shadow an already established episodic director on a Shondaland produced series. Highlighting past winners, Jennifer Morris recently completed her shadow on Station 19 (ABC), and Tamika Miller has directed two episodes of the ABC production since winning in 2020. Shondaland’s Head of Creative Production, Tom Verica says

“As a storytelling company, Shondaland is rooted in uplifting diverse perspectives and telling stories that reflect the world in which we live, and we are thrilled to award this year’s mentorship to Gia-Rayne B. Harris. Gia-Rayne is as inspiring as she is talented and we can’t wait to champion her and see where this opportunity takes her.”


Gia-Rayne B. Harris

Gia-Rayne B. Harris is a Writer/Director, Mississippi native, and alumna of the University of Pennsylvania. She tends to center womxn and people of color in her storytelling and has shaped her career as a love letter to the women who raised her. 

A graduate of AFI's Directing Program, she has directed 12 short films which have screened at various festivals including Outfest, the American Black Film Festival (ABFF), NewFest, AFI FEST, and the Pan African Film Festival. In June 2022, Harris was named a finalist for the HBO Short Film Award at ABFF, and her short film “Pens and Pencils” was acquired by HBO and will premiere on the platform in Spring 2023. 

Gia-Rayne was also recently selected as a part of the NBCULaunch Female Forward Program and will be making her TV directing debut on CHICAGO PD in the new year. Harris is repped by Heroes and Villains Entertainment.

"Thank you Shondaland and SeriesFest for this amazing opportunity. This next step towards my future feels incredibly surreal. Thank you all for believing in me and for reminding me that making great work with great people is entirely attainable. Looking forward to learning from and growing with all of you!"


Shondaland is the pioneering storytelling company founded by award-winning writer and producer Shonda Rhimes. The company has produced the television series "Grey's Anatomy," "Private Practice," "Scandal," "How To Get Away With Murder," "For The People" and "Station 19” for ABC. Through the company’s unprecedented shift to streaming, it is producing content exclusively for Netflix including the popular series “Bridgerton,” “Inventing Anna” and “Notes on Love.” In recent years the company has expanded into other divisions including launching the website Shondaland.com, part of the Hearst Digital Networks, and Shondaland Audio, part of the iHeart Podcast Network. The company is rooted in the ideals of creating content that changes culture, changes perceptions and writes the future.


In addition to announcing the winner, eight semi-finalists were selected for recognition by a panel including both SeriesFest and Shondaland team members. Those semi-finalists are Marianne Amelinckx, Caitlin Davis, Elaine Del Valle, Winter Dunn, Aurora Ferlin, Caroline Friend, Meagan Noel Fulps, Lorena Gordon, and Shayla Racquel. 

Marianne Amelinckx


Marianne Amelinckx is a natural-born storyteller and official videographer for family and friends. Her work focuses mainly on queer and women-led stories. Her award-winning short film SALTA (Dive), premiered at Tribeca Film Festival 2017, screened in over 15 countries, and is currently available on Prime Video. She was also a finalist in Chanel and Tribeca’s “Through Her Lens” with Vuela (Fly), a queer story about love in the context of the Venezuelan Diaspora. Her latest work includes “Blessed and Highly Favored” a comedy short film co-directed with writer/producer Julieta Messmer, “Mustache Mondays” a one-hour documentary for PBS SoCal, and a script adaptation of a story written by New York Times Bestselling author Lucia Berlin.

Caitlin Davis

Caitlin Davis is an LA-based director and writer, originally from a one-stoplight town in rural North Carolina. She wrote the episode "Mad About Yuletide" for Raven's Home Season Four and the short film "Noor," produced in partnership with Women in Media, CBS Studios, and NBC Universal. Caitlin's hit UCB musical, "Missionary Style," was produced as a pilot by Filmbank Entertainment. Caitlin directed the award-winning series, "The Van Gogh Show" and the pilot "Total Opposites" for Funny or Die. She shadowed director Ryan Shiraki on eight episodes of television, including Netflix's "On My Block." Caitlin most recently worked as an assistant to Adam McKay and Shira Piven.


Elaine Del Valle


Elaine Del Valle is a Brownsville, Brooklyn-bred Puerto Rican multi-hyphenate filmmaker. She won the 2022 SXSW audience award (episodic pilot competition), and Seriesfest Caz Matthews Award for her original, independently produced and directed drama pilot, Brownsville Bred. Elaine is a 150 Artist, Sundance Writer & Director Lab alumna, and HBOLatinx short film Director award winner. Elaine's films, Me 3.769 and Princess Cut, went on to air on HBOmax.She was recently selected by the Women's Weekend Film Challenge to direct, and by the WGA, where Elaine is currently a part of the 2022 Showrunner Academy. Her original one-hour drama pilot, The System sold to CBS.

Winter Dunn

Winter Dunn is an award-winning director, producer, and actress with a passion for depicting universal stories through the lens of BIPOC voices. Her short film DEAR MAMA… World Premiered at SXSW 2022 and was awarded a Special Jury Mention in Drama at Aspen Shortsfest. DEAR MAMA… has screened at several Oscar-qualifying film festivals and is currently streaming on The New Yorker. Her debut short film JUNEBUG premiered at the American Black Film Festival, made its television debut on FOX Soul and is currently streaming on Tubi and Issa Rae Presents/HOORAE. She produced Numa Perrier’s debut feature film, JEZEBEL which is streaming on Netflix via Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY.    

Dunn has directed multiple digital content formats including web series and editorial videos. Her celebrity video features for Vanity Fair, Vogue, Architectural Digest, GQ, Allure, and other media brands have garnered a celebrity feature list that includes Lena Waithe, Kim Kardashian, Billie Eilish, and others. 

She is a 2021 Film Independent Project Involve Directing Fellow and is the recipient of the Amazon Studios Film Fellowship. Dunn graduated from the Chicago Academy for the Arts and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre from Fordham University. 


Aurora Ferlin


Born to a Rwandan father and a Belgian mother, Aurora Ferlin grew up in Belgium and is part of a large, blended family.In addition to being selected for the 2022-2023 NBC TV Writers program, Aurora is a 2020 Academy Nicholl Fellowship Quarter-Finalist with her feature screenplay, VILOMAH. Last year, her screenplay, SHE WENT MISSING was greenlit by Lifetime and premiered on the network in April.

With a background in journalism, she has a passion for highlighting marginalized voices. Her screenplays always contain a good dose of suspense and her works often explore themes of crime, race, class, and social justice.

In 2018, her short film, MOTHERS was selected as part of ABFF’s Inaugural Emerging Directors Program and the short also won Best Director and Best Short Film at the Back-In-The-Box Industry Film Festival.

Most recently, Aurora has written and directed the pilot episodes of MAHOGANY SUNSET and A NEW DAY, the first scripted podcasts under Hallmark’s Mahogany banner. She has also produced shows for the Africa Channel and she is the co-creator of the network’s original series, SHADES OF YOU.

An HBCU alum, she is a graduate of Florida A&M University and the University of Brussels.

Caroline Friend

Caroline Friend is a writer and director based in Los Angeles. Her latest film, Under Darkness, premiered at Telluride Film Festival, won the Horizon Award at Sundance and was a finalist for the Student Academy Awards. Her work has been recognized by the Directors Guild of America (DGA) and the Television Academy, as well as supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Adrienne Shelly Foundation, Panavision, and Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation. Caroline is a graduate of the University of Southern California with a double degree in Film Production and History. She is currently developing her first feature and TV projects.


Meagan Noel Fulps

Meagan Noel Fulps is a writer/director and former professional athlete originally from Denver, Colorado. She loves to champion female athletes and write about female characters coming into their power. Currently, she works for prolific writer/director Seth Gordon on Netflix's upcoming action comedy film, "Back in Action." Previously, she assisted director Daisy von Scherler Mayer on HBOMax's "Made For Love" and gained invaluable experience on set, in the writer's room and in post-production on several TV shows, including Shondaland's very own "Scandal" & "How To Get Away With Murder."

Lorena Gordon

Lorena Gordon is an award-winning writer/director hailing from Queens, New York. Lorena began her journey in film working as a production assistant on sets at the age of 18 with directors such as Martin Scorsese, Sam Mendes, and Ben Stiller. She then made her way to the director’s chair after feeling inspired and determined to tell her stories. 

As someone who was born and raised in one of the melting pots in the world, Queens, New York, Lorena is committed to telling character-driven stories that are authentic and personal. The stories Lorena feels most passionate about telling are about the human condition and giving a platform for the Latinx, queer, and disability communities. Lorena feels it’s her responsibility to give a voice to the communities whose stories often don’t get told. Lorena has directed, written, and produced the short films Times Like These and At Last. Her short films have been picked up for distribution. Most recently, Lorena wrote and directed the short film At Last, starring Zack Gottsagen and George Lopez. At Last has played at over 30 Oscar-qualifying film festivals: HollyShorts, Cleveland International Film Festival, and Indy Shorts. The film has garnered her awards for Best Director and Best Short Film throughout its festival run. At Last was picked up and is now streaming HBO Max. She was recently a Semi-Finalist for the New Voices Filmmaker Grant in partnership with Netflix as well as a finalist in the MTV First Time Directors Initiative.


Shayla Racquel


Shayla Racquel is an energetic, quintessential creative with a passion for storytelling birthed and honed by her southern roots.

Shayla Racquel's work has been featured in over 40 film festivals and has received over 20 awards to date, including a Student Emmy (Student Production Award) from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences - National Capital Chapter. Her short film Riverment was acquired by major networks such as Comcast Xfinity, Magic Johnson's Aspire TV, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs' Revolt TV, and FOX streaming platform Tubi, to name a few. She recently directed a digital series executive produced by Keke Palmer. Her storytelling capabilities have been featured by the Washington Post, VIBE magazine, and a plethora of other notable outlets; she was recently highlighted as one of OkayPlayer's Eight Up-And-Coming Directors That Should Be On Your Radar.

Shayla creates and gravitates towards character-driven dramas and dramedies that feature characters with multifarious identities navigating a world where they are being forced to choose just one.

Shayla Racquel holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems from the illustrious Florida A&M University. In 2018, she received her Master of Fine Arts in Film & Electronic Media from American University.


SeriesFest, a non-profit organization, champions and empowers artists at the forefront of episodic storytelling by providing year-round opportunities for creators and industry professionals to connect, collaborate, and share stories, which inspire and impact global audiences. Each June, SeriesFest culminates in a highly-curated and celebrated Denver-based festival and marketplace. Dedicated to showcasing innovative episodic content, the annual festival includes in-competition independent pilot screenings, panels, workshops, live reads, parties, and network television premieres. SeriesFest: Season Nine will take place from May 5–10, 2023 in Denver. Submissions are now open for all competitions.

Feeling inspired? Check out our competitions currently accepting submissions, including our Script Writing Competition with Wondaland Pictures, here.