RESEARCH | DISCUSSION | COLLABORATION | SOLUTIONS

to promote greater diversity in Pittsburgh's film & digital media industry.

  Steeltown’s Diversity Initiative aims to enrich and diversify the film and digital media industry in the Greater Pittsburgh Area. We want our industry to welcome and embrace all individuals regardless of race, creed, gender, or sexual orientation. We’re pushing our local entertainment industry to provide everyone with equal opportunities to work, learn, and grow their craft.

Our Roundtable Series

We are proud to be hosting a series of filmed roundtable discussions that will shine a light on the level of diversity in film and digital media industry on both a local and national level. These are closed discussions; however, we will be creating a series of videos to prompt a wider discussion on diversity, equality, and inclusion, as well as, potential solutions.  These discussions will lead directly into a public panel discussion at the Steeltown Entertainment Summit in the fall.

The series aims to give ourselves and other organizations the tools to implement practices that actively increase diversity and build a more equitable, inclusive film and digital media industry.

LGBTQ+ Roundtable

Meet the Moderator:

Michael Bartley

Michael Bartley

Production Executive

Veteran Pittsburgh journalist Michael Bartley joined Steeltown in 2016 as our Executive Vice President of Production and Development. Michael Bartley has won 14 regional Emmy Awards, the prestigious Edward R. Murrow Award, a Gabriel Award, and numerous state and local honors including the Bill Burns Award for Journalistic Excellence, numerous Pittsburgh Press Club Golden Quills, and other television and media-related awards. His many long form stories and documentaries on WQED TV have garnered respect from the all levels of local corporate leaders. Mr. Bartley has also published many articles for Pittsburgh Magazine and has hosted programs on local radio, including the PNC Business Journal on KQV Radio. He’s taught journalism at La Roche College as well as served on many local non- profit boards, including Gateway Rehabilitation, The Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh, The Art Rooney Awards, and others. Mr. Bartley has solely operated a freelance video business for 12 years in the Pittsburgh area, helping non-profit and government agencies utilize premiere video presentations to tell their stories, at an affordable cost.

Meet Our Panelists:

Mitch Lieb

Mitch Lieb

President & Programming Director of Reel Q

Mitch Leib is currently the president and programming director of Reel Q, Pittsburgh’s LQBTQ film festival and also its parent the Pittsburgh Lesbian and Gay Film Society. ReelQ is the 5th oldest LGBTQ film festival in North America and the 6th oldest in the world.  He has been the programmer for 10 years and president for 8 years.  A graduate of Vassar College, Mitch’s degree is in theater.  He lived in Los Angeles in the late 80’s and early 90’s where he sang in local clubs.  He has been on the board of the local LGBT Softball League and was the entertainment chair for Pittsburgh Pride in the late 90’s.  He is also the Vice President of Operations at Applied Systems Associates, Inc, an international software development company headquartered in Murrysville, PA.

Check out Reel Q.

David Stanton

David Stanton

Founder of Gay Life Television and Gay Life Radio

David Stanton, founder of Gay Life Television and Gay Life Radio has lived in Pittsburgh since 1995 when he relocated from NYC. Currently, David works as a beard model, executive producer, program director and talk show host at Gay Life Television. Gay Life Television is ROKU’s official LGBT channel with Gay Life TV and Gay Life TV Premium with a worldwide reach, averaged of 11 million viewers a month. Gay Life TV works with Clear Channel Media and has exclusive rights to broadcast the San Francisco Gay Pride.
 
Check out Gay Life TV. Gay Life Television is quality broadcasting for the LGBT Community.

Why he’s a part of the roundtable series:

I’m involved in the round table to represent LGBT Television.My goal was to bring awareness to the issues of LGBT folk in the entertainment industry creating less value of their works. Therefor causing the whole industry from drag queens to soap opera actors to get paid less or not at all. My goal is to offer a solution to the problem and to provide the solution with Gay Life Television. It’s why Gay Life TV was created in the first place.

Meg Koleck

Meg Koleck

Independent filmmaker, Educator & Technologist

Meg Koleck is an independent filmmaker, educator and technologist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Meg utilizes digital media and virtual platforms as accessible tools for self-exploration and human connection. Her work glorifies otherness while critiquing societal expectations in American culture. Meg celebrates underground art and seeks a larger community of DIY video artists and technologists.  Meg started working at Pittsburgh Filmmakers in 2012 as a Teaching Assistant, Assistant Librarian and the Digital Video Specialist during her years as an Equipment Office Manager. Meg also worked in Media Production at the University of Pittsburgh and an Assistant Editor at local PBS Station WQED.  Currently, Meg Koleck is an Instructional Technologist at the University of Pittsburgh while also teaching a video production course at Pittsburgh Filmmakers School of Filmmaking and Photography. Meg is also a freelance filmmaker and producer available for hire. 
 

People of Color Roundtable

Meet the Moderator:

Siovhan Christensen

Siovhan Christensen

Actor

Siovhan is an actor and teaching artist with a commitment to social justice and community arts programming. Her work can be seen, heard or interacted with on stage, through voice overs, commercials, film, and television.  Siovhan studied acting in Chicago at The Theatre School at DePaul University. You can usually catch her working to bring stories to life on stage, and this year Siovhan’s work can also be seen in a recurring role on the ABC comedy series DOWNWARD DOG and in BETWEEN US AND GRACE, a new play being workshopped and performed as part of the New Hazlett CSA series this fall.

Check out Siovhan’s work.

Why she’s a part of the roundtable series:

At this moment, I believe my purpose as an artist is to tell the stories of marginalized individuals and to be involved, in any way that I can, in giving space for people to find their voice, speak their truth and continue the conversation. I felt that this project was aligned with my purpose.

Meet Our Panelists:

Harish Saluja

Harish Saluja

Filmmaker, Artist & Entrepreneur

Harish Saluja is a filmmaker, artist and entrepreneur.  His film The Journey won several awards, was shown in over 30 film festivals and was distributed by IFC (the Independent Film Channel). He also has a strong business background as a 30-year veteran in the publishing industry. In addition, he is a nationally recognized painter, having shown his work in Europe and USA.

He has been the co- host of Music From India radio program on WDUQ/WESA since 1972. 

In 2005 Harish launched Silk Screen, Asian Arts and Cultural Organization. Its main even is the annual Asian American Film Festival. 

He formed the Silk Sound Asian American Jazz Orchestra in 2015.

Franklin Carpio

Franklin Carpio

Filmmaker

Franklin Carpio was born in Ecuador, raised in NY/NJ until he came to Pittsburgh in 2005 for to attend the Art Institute of Pittsburgh for Entertainment Design.
 
 
Franklin has always been involved in art, from drawing, painting, photography, sculpting and now filming. He recently pursed his passion for filmmaking and has found it is the only thing that he wants to do I have got to the point where He’s driven and believes anything is possible if you want it and work for it.
 
 
Since starting his film career, he has made a few music videos, shot for Aflac two years in a row, been to 3 countries in Asia, Berlin Germany, numerous short films in addition to working on photography.
 
 

Why he’s a part of the roundtable series:

I’d like to inspire other minorities like myself and show them that if there is a will there is a way. I realize working in the art or entertainment field is pretty hard to get into but if its your passion you better go for it. 
 
Edwin Huang

Edwin Huang

Filmmaker

Edwin Huang studied Information Systems and Decision Sciences at Carnegie Mellon. He later worked as an executive for various startups in Pittsburgh for Hardware Emulation, Credit Card Processing, and Computer Based Training.

After inheriting all the video equipment from the Computer Based Training company, Edwin started consulting and freelancing in corporate video nationally and locally. Some of his past and current clients include Verizon, Mitsubishi, The Hillman Foundation, Central Blood Bank, SummaTech, Kelly Strayhorn Theater, and Apple Computer.

Currently, Edwin specializes in streaming video broadcasts for two international hockey leagues, and local concerts and events. Creatively, Edwin was the DP for the mixed stage and screen production of Evenings in Quarantine: The Zombie Opera, First AC of the  horror feature Scream Park, and other short movies. He is currently the DP for a steampunk project and both cast and crew for the Amazon series Beginnings.

Learn more about Edwin’s work.

Why he’s a part of the roundtable series:

I hope to share my own experiences and listen to others. But I do want to explore things that I don’t have answers to and I want some personal observations confirmed or rejected. I suppose one of the issues of being a minority is that at times it could be difficult to see if your perspective is unique or typical.
 
Shiori Saito-Levenson

Shiori Saito-Levenson

Filmmaker, Photographer & Documentarian

Shiori is originally from Japan, and currently made a fresh start in Pittsburgh.
 
Before moving to the States, she had worked in the TV industry in Tokyo and was involved in a number of travel documentaries. She now works as a freelanced videographer, and is very excited to explore the culture and community of this new environment.

Learn more about Shiori’s work.

Why she’s a part of the roundtable series:

I joined the roundtable project because I had recently done an installation piece about equality and prejudice, a topic that strongly interests me.
 
Coming from a single-race country (Japan), there is so much to learn about this issue, and this is a rare opportunity for me to discuss this topic with such a diverse group of people.
 

Women Roundtable

Meet the Moderator:

Caroline Collins 

Bio:

Caroline Collins is an actor, writer, producer and director. She has appeared in films such as Adventureland and Since I Don’t Have You. On television, she played Polly on season two of WGN America’s Outsiders, and she will soon appear as Theresa Malone in NBC’s Gone.

Caroline has written and produced several short movies including the award-winning romantic comedy Lightheaded, which she also acted in. She directed Hand Me Downs, the only film selected to screen at the 2016 SWAN Day Pittsburgh festival. And Happy Birthday to Me, which she directed, won the 2016 Pittsburgh 48 Hour Film Festival’s best film and four other awards. She will direct another Pittsburgh 48 Hour film in July.

As a producer, she’s in pre-production on a feature that will shoot in September, and post-production on a pilot being developed for a streaming service. See her IMDB for more.

 

Why she’s a part of the roundtable series:

 

Caroline is delighted to be moderating Steeltown Entertainment’s Women in Entertainment Round Table. In her career, she’s worked with many talented and creative women, both in front of and behind the camera. Caroline loves Steeltown’s mission of connecting and mentoring Pittsburgh filmmakers, and she’s delighted to help foster those connections through this event.

Meet Our Panelists:

Ellen Doherty

Ellen Doherty

Ellen Doherty is Executive in Charge of Production for The Fred Rogers Company, overseeing creation of television and digital content for the company’s existing PBS KIDS series—Daniel Tiger’s NeighborhoodPeg + Cat and Odd Squad—as well as developing new properties. She is the creator, head writer and executive producer of Through the Woods, a new shortform series about nature developed for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s streaming video service for preschoolers, Curious World.  She is an Emmy Award-winning producer and writer with more than twenty years’ experience in children’s and family media. Previously, Ellen was Executive Producer and Story Editor of the popular math-themed PBS KIDS series Cyberchase (where she oversaw production of television and digital content, including the Webby-nominated augmented-reality app Cyberchase Shape Quest. She began her career on the celebrated PBS KIDS series Reading Rainbow and has a B.A. in Communications from Boston College.

Rita Gregory

Rita Gregory

After graduating from Point Park University, Rita Gregory from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has been a member of the performing art community for more than 30 years. She has appeared in numerous television commercials. On stage, she’s earned awards for her portrayal as Rose in August Wilson’s Fences and the one woman show, No Child, portraying 16 characters.

Other credits in film and television include Rehabilitation of the Hill, Abduction, Sonny Days, My Bloody Valentine, Those Who Kill, Three Rivers, and Cleveland Abduction: The Michelle Knight Story. She will soon travel to Columbus, Ohio to begin work on a new film, Apartment 304. A retired International Flight Attendant of 33 years, she celebrates 16 years as a breast cancer survivor.

Melissa Martin

Melissa Martin

Melissa Martin is an award winning producer/writer/director working in independent film, and theatre.  She is the Producer/Writer/Director of The Bread, My Sweet. An award winner on the film festival scene, The Bread, My Sweet screened at more than twenty festivals, was a featured film in Chris Gore’s Film Festival Survival Guide, and was released theatrically nation-wide.  It was distributed world-wide by Fox International, on DVD by Universal/Screen Media, and on ShowTime, Starz, The Sundance Channel, and network television.   Martin is a writer, the director, for both Dog Bytes, a web series which screened at more than twenty film festivals, among them Berlin, Cape Fear,  LAWEBFEST and Cannes.  Martin also directed Flour Baby, Paper Umbrellas—both short films. A pilot, Come With Me, based on the web series she directed, I’ll Call You.  Next is a short, The Cookie Table and then Summerlings a feature film.

Why she’s a part of the roundtable series:

The world of indie film – all media really – is a traditionally white male.  Women (cis, trans, poc) desperately need mentors – they didn’t exist for me at all. My goals, beyond the making of a socially relevant product are to mentor and hire with a special eye toward intersectionality.

Minette Seate

Minette Seate

Minette Seate is a senior producer at WQED Pittsburgh. Throughout her career she has written and produced a range of television programs from an acclaimed and record-holding weekly talk show to Emmy Award winning documentaries. She has also written and produced for commercial print, radio and web, and has appeared as on-screen talent in a number of productions.  Seate also served as science producer for public radio’s “Every Day Science,” which aired on over 200 Public Radio stations and ran for seven seasons.

In 2016, Minette completed production on “August Wilson: The Ground On Which I Stand”, part of PBS’ nationally broadcast “American Masters” series. As coordinating producer, she helped shepherd the film from pre-production to broadcast. She also wrote and produced a thirty-minute companion piece, “The Making Of August Wilson”.

Locally, she has just wrapped production on “The State of Black Pittsburgh 2017” and is currently involved in a number of on and off air projects.

 

Check out the documentary Minette did on her hometown, Wilkinsburg, and their effort to re-emerge as a safe, viable and livable neighborhood.

Why she’s a part of the roundtable series:

Why am I involved in the women’s round table. First, it’s an honor just to be asked. Seriously, to be able share old stories and new hopes with a group of women with such a wide variety of experiences is a gift. You never know what somebody else is going to teach you. And secondly, the idea that what we do may inspire or help or strengthen the resolve of another person out there, helps me feel like in some small way I’m repaying the people who inspired and believed in me.

Julie Sokolow

Julie Sokolow

Julie Sokolow is the award-winning director of documentaries such as Woman on Fire (2016) and Aspie Seeks Love (2015). Woman on Fire tells the story of Brooke Guinan, NY’s first openly transgender firefighter. The film has been praised in IndieWire and the Village Voice and was recently acquired by FilmRise. Her first documentary feature, Aspie Seeks Love, follows a writer diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome on his quest to find love. The film premiered at Cinequest in 2015, where it won Best Documentary Feature Film. Sokolow’s work has been featured in the New York Times, TIME, Vice, Huffington Post, and Vimeo Staff Picks. She is now working on her third documentary feature, Barefoot. Her new film is supported through an artist residency with Steeltown, funded through The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments, as well as through the support of the Sundance award-winning company, Animal.

Why she’s a part of the roundtable series:

I’m excited to connect with more women in the Pittsburgh film community! We all have different stories about how our careers got started, and usually they are offbeat and nuanced tales of struggle and occasional triumph. By sharing these stories transparently and publicly, other women watching will hopefully feel encouraged to
pursue their cinematic dreams despite the obstacles. The door is being kicked open in a major way right now, so get a camera in your hand and join us!

African American Roundtable

Snaps from the Roundtable

Meet the Moderator:

Michelyn Hood

Bio:

Michelyn (Mike-Lynn) Tinor (Ten- ‘OR) is the founder and host of The Pittsburgh Spot. PghSpot.com is a popular video web show that showcases the leaders, small business owners, and creative innovators in Pittsburgh. PghSpot.com averages over 50,000 views per episode and is partnered with Local Magazine as a content partner and Steeltown Entertainment as its charitable partner.

Michelyn is a member of the Talent Group Agency and has been featured in various TV productions in Pittsburgh. Recently, Michelyn has received Pittsburgh magazines ‘40 under 40’ award, the New Pittsburgh Couriers ‘Fab 40’ award and Whirl Magazine ‘50 finest’ award.

Michelyn works at Visit Pittsburgh as their National Sales Director, where she is responsible for bringing large conventions to Pittsburgh. Michelyn also recently served for 3 years as the “Mount TV” spokesperson at Mount Ararat Baptist church. Most recently, she served as the moderator for the 2017 PUMP Mayoral Debate.

She is married to Pastor Marco A. Tinor making her the first lady of the Saint Paul Baptist church in Point Breeze.

The Pittsburgh Spot

 

Meet Our Panelists:

Alisyn Blackwell

Alisyn Blackwell

After graduating from Point Park University with a degree in Broadcast Journalism, Alisyn found her way to Mister Roger’s Neighborhood; community staple WQED. Since starting as a Production Assistant 6 years ago, the North Side native has worked her way through the company, producing, shooting and editing stories for air and for web, including the web-series WQED Sessions and the delicious Pittsburgh Eats.

Why she’s a part of the roundtable series:

I’ve watched many townhall meeting style conversations on the “state” of black Pittsburgh and where African Americans stand as it relates to overall quality of life here in our city. This is a city that I love and I really just want to see it become a city that people of every background, especially African Americans, see as somewhere they’d want to live. And for myself, I know that if I don’t see myself represented in the media of an area or underrepresented, I am much less likely to want to go there.

Check Out Alisyn’s Work:

Pittsburgh Eats

WQED Sessions

Rita Gregory

Rita Gregory

After graduating from Point Park University, Rita Gregory from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has been a member of the performing art community for more than 30 years. She has appeared in numerous television commercials. On stage, she’s earned awards for her portrayal as Rose in August Wilson’s Fences and the one woman show, No Child, portraying 16 characters.

Other credits in film and television include Rehabilitation of the Hill, Abduction, Sonny Days, My Bloody Valentine, Those Who Kill, Three Rivers, and Cleveland Abduction: The Michelle Knight Story. She will soon travel to Columbus, Ohio to begin work on a new film, Apartment 304. A retired International Flight Attendant of 33 years, she celebrates 16 years as a breast cancer survivor.

Why she’s a part of the roundtable series:

I am always interested in open dialogue about what affects my life as well as the lives of others. In my profession, networking is key to establishing relationships, getting jobs and learning and growing as an artist.  When asked if I would like to be a part of this Roundtable on Diversity, I immediately said yes.  What an amazing opportunity to talk openly with others about my thoughts and concerns as an African-American Actress as I listen to others sharing their thoughts and concerns. 

Check Out Rita’s Work:

IMDB

Ian McIntosh

Ian McIntosh

After years filled with racial tension, Ian writes to provide gender/racial prospectives within the country. He strongly believes that these hardships was a gift that provided a powerful lens to write stories with. 
 
Ian is a screenwriter and professionally performs stand up/comedy improv and sketch throughout Pittsburgh and New York City. Recently, Ian was the Associate Producer on a feature length movie called “Rehabilitation of the Hill”, a movie set in his hometown, The Hill District. He has experience in various film departments such as Director of Photography, Editor, and writing. 

Why he’s a part of the roundtable series:

My whole career has had programs that “strived” for diversity however the same pitfalls repeat: lack of black interest in these film opportunities, forced assimilation from the white society and double consciousness blacks feel the need to have to be successful within their film career. Another solution is needed, otherwise we lose authenticity, creativity, and individuality. The current nature of “Diversity” only fills a checklist, rather than arming minorities with the courage to stand strong against these racial issues. We must rethink what diversity is massaging into the culture of black filmmakers as this medium moves towards the future. 

Njaimeh Njie

Njaimeh Njie

Njaimeh Njie is a Pittsburgh based photographer, filmmaker, and multimedia producer. Working across photo, video, writing, and curating, her work is rooted in social justice and cultural enrichment. Njaimeh is the Founder/Lead Producer of Eleven Stanley Productions—a production company dedicated to creating story based branded and original content. As the creator of the multimedia series Power(ed) by Grace, her work has earned coverage from outlets such as the Huffington Post, the Carnegie Museum of Art blog, and Blavity. Beyond her creative work Njaimeh is an experienced educator and an avid traveler. A Pittsburgh native, Njaimeh earned a B.A. in Film and Media Studies from Washington University in St. Louis, and an M.Ed in Secondary Education from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Why she’s a part of the roundtable series:

I’m joining the African-American roundtable because it’s important to acknowledge that black people are working behind the camera in film and media. When I was growing up I was interested in film but the barriers to entry felt so high; I didn’t know anyone working in the industry, let alone anyone who looked like me. We’re in a time that’s both very exciting and very challenging to be creating media as a black person. I’m looking forward to having a conversation about the ways black people in Pittsburgh have found a way to work and sustain themselves in film careers.

Check Out Njaimeh’s Work:

Eleven Stanley Productions

Personal Website

Jordan Taylor

Jordan Taylor

Jordan Taylor is a local artist ,film maker and musician. A graduated of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh with a B.S in digital media production , he has done audio visual work for such clients as PNC Bank , Carnival Cruise Lines and the Pittsburgh Steelers. These days he is half of Pittsburgh dj duo Tracksploitation as well as director of productions for Steeltown’s ” Reel Teens Pittsburgh”. With 9 years of mentoring and teaching artist experience he is passionate about helping young people expressive themselves though art and multi media. 

Why he’s a part of the roundtable series:

I think its important that we have these types of discussions and I hope to see more diversity in creative fields in Pittsburgh then there currently is.  

UPCOMING ROUNDTABLE SCHEDULE

WOMEN

July

PEOPLE OF COLOR

August

LGBTQ COMMUNITY

September 

PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

October

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