Women in Entertainment Panel

This is what diversity looks like—at The Los Angeles Film School

Did you know that over the 91-year history of the Academy Awards, only one female has won an Oscar for Best Director? If you recall, the Oscar went to Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker. To add salt to the wound, Bigelow won the Best Director Oscar ten years ago. Greta Gerwig is the only female director since 2010 to be nominated for Best Director for her 2017 coming-of-age film, Lady Bird. Gender disparity in entertainment is still very much a thing, but the only way to progress is to raise awareness.

In the 2019 Diversity Report, conducted by UCLA’s College of Social Sciences, researchers studied the top 200 theatrical film releases in 2017 along with the 1,316 broadcast, cable and digital shows from 2016-2017. Their research focused on women and people of color in front of and behind the camera.

According to the study, women made gains in seven of the 12 key Hollywood employment areas, including film leads and film directors. Women make up just over half the global population; however, they only represented 12.6 percent of film directors and 12.6 percent of film writers. While minorities accounted for about 40 percent of the population in 2017, they were only 19.8 percent of film leads and 12.6 percent of film directors.

As a film and entertainment arts school, we recognize our role in helping to break down these barriers and continue the progress to parity. We make it a priority to host screenings and guests speakers on campus which celebrate a wide range of entertainment professionals and artists, including females and people of color.

For our latest industry panel, we honored four of the talented female graduates from The Los Angeles Film School and The Los Angeles Recording School. The panel was part of our first Alumni Mixer of 2019 and dedicated to women in entertainment. Watch the full Q&A panel moderated by Senior Director of Career Development, Angelia Bibbs-Sanders.

The Panelists

L.A. Film School Alumni Panel

From left to right: Khara Campbell, Ellie Vainshtok, Mehrnaz Mohabti and Jessica Sterling

Jessica Sterling

Jessica Sterling (Film 2001) is a professional event and portrait photographer whose clients have included Ashton Kutcher, Steven Spielberg, Hugh Jackman, Mark Wahlberg, Serena Williams, Justin Timberlake and more. She has contributed to Forbes, the Huffington Post, CNN, MTV, Fortune Magazine, Back Stage, Popular Science, Angeleno Magazine, Sports Business Journal and The Wall Street Journal.

Mehrnaz Mohabati

Iranian sound engineer Mehrnaz Mohabati has worked as a re-recording mixer, dialogue editor and ADR mixer on various films and series including the Fire Chasers (2017), Opus of Angel (2018), and Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile (2019). In 2014, she graduated with a 4.0 top of her class from The Los Angeles Film School with an Associates of Science in Recording Arts—a continuation of her academic achievements that include an MS in Sound Engineering in 2009 from the University of Official Broadcasting in Tehran, Iran, and a BA in Musicology in 2003 from Sureh University of Tehran, Iran.

Nominated in 2009 for the African American Sound award for her work on Soul Diaspora (2009) she continues her work on award-winning films and series at Ugosound Studios in Burbank, CA, with the MPSE Golden Reel Award nominee Fire Chasers (2018).

Ellie Vainshtok

After graduating from UC Santa Cruz with a BA in computers and a minor in Electronic Music, Ellie worked in software sales and then in Real Estate sales before deciding to attend The Los Angeles Recording School. She spent ten years as a Music Coordinator and Music Talent Manager at Nickelodeon, her productions have been nominated and won Daytime Emmy Awards. She is a Co-Founder of the LAFS Alumni Association and currently works as a freelancer in music production.

Khara Campell

Khara Campbell (Film 2008), a freelance director/producer who has produced several episodes of the PBS Documentary Series: Makers: Women Who Make America. This series was narrated by Meryl Streep and features women who have had a major effect on our culture and life. Her book, Seahorse, releases next month.