Guest Speakers


Amazing Guest Speakers!


This year’s festival features dynamic and exciting guest speakers.



Nakia Stephens is an award-winning screenwriter and independent filmmaker who is devoted to telling authentic and purposeful stories that disrupt outdated and ill-informed narratives. Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Nakia has always been influenced by Black culture and southern flair, which, coupled with studying creative writing in places like Shanghai, Beijing, and Ghana, helped to cultivate her passion for human connection through storytelling.



She is known for crafting character-driven narratives that effortlessly blend elements of heartache, humor, and controversy all while naturally amplifying the voices of marginalized groups, especially Black Women and Girls. 



Nakia has had over 20 of her screenplays produced to screen including her most notable projects: Suga Water, Cream x Coffee, Noise, and Novella. 


Nakia has been featured and recognized for her work by festivals and platforms such as Deadline, BLAVITY, ABFF, Rolling Out Magazine, The Tom Joyner Morning Show, and Black Girls Rock! She also garnered partnerships with major media outlets such as Revolt TV, Black&Sexy TV, and BET, just to name a few.



Yolonda Brinkley is an Illinois MBA with extensive branding, communications, public relations and marketing experience. She is skilled in event planning, media relations, crisis communication, strategic planning, luxury lifestyle management, contract negotiations, business plan development and cross-functional leadership. She holds a BA from Clark Atlanta University and is proficient in French with international experience.


Yolonda has a solid record and; experienced great success during her tenure in corporate America. Throughout her matriculation, she fostered relationships with fortune 100 companies, partnered with iconic brands, individuals and organizations to create mutually beneficial events, partnerships and programs.


As an entrepreneur, Yolonda is well connected and has established herself as a valuable resource within the global business community. Since launching her independent consultancy, Yolonda has produced events for the NAACP Image Awards, provided client services for Hyundai Motor America and managed M & A outreach for JADAK, LLC. Tapping into her passion for entertainment, Yolonda has worked in various capacities at several film festivals and provided public relations strategy and media relations to Hollywood great Actor, Director and Producer Bill Duke; serving as unit publicist, casting associate and talent manager for the “Light Girls” documentary, which premiered on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

Yolonda, the self-proclaimed global disruptor, constantly creates opportunities for herself and is the creator of Diversity in Cannes, the independent global film movement promoting inclusion at the Cannes Film Festival. Fueled by passion, she produces “Diversity Day”, providing an intimate platform to celebrate underrepresented filmmakers and their stories. Supported by Julius Tennon and Academy Award Winner Viola Davis’s JuVee Productions, Yolonda’s inclusion efforts includes two short film showcases, a filmmaker panel and an awards reception in France during the Festival de Cannes. Since its 2010 inception, with Yolonda at the helm, the initiative has emerged from a simple filmmaker symposium to a comprehensive movement, providing a platform for globally diverse filmmakers to be seen and heard at the Cannes Film Festival and beyond. More specifically, Diversity in Cannes promotes the presence of underrepresented content creators telling stories specific to marginalized populations and celebrates their achievements at the world’s most prestigious film festival.

In 12 short years, Yolonda has hosted hundreds of filmmakers from five continents, received thousands of short film submissions from at least 31 countries and has welcomed esteemed panelists. She was even nominated for a European Diversity Award for her efforts to diversify the global film industry.