The future of television and film relies on the cultivation of talent of our youth. New York-based Reel Works celebrates its 20th anniversary ahead of its virtual gala this week. The organization is a youth media and workforce readiness program that matches teens with professional filmmakers as mentors. Organizers Stephanie Walter Williams and Keisha Katz took the time with LRM Online to promote and to discuss the activities and accomplishments with the diverse BIPOC young adults.
The purpose of Reel Works is to mentor, inspire and empower underserved New York City youth to share their stories through filmmaking, creating a springboard to successful careers in media and beyond.
A couple of programs highlighted included MediaMKRS partnership that originated in 2019 with the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME), the City University of New York (CUNY) and the unions and media companies such as HBO, Netflix, and Viacom CBS. The purpose of the partnership is to train, credential, and prepare talented young adults for careers in media and entertainment.
Also, the organization has Reel Works Productions, a youth-led, Emmy-winning production company that pays teens to create original media for real clients. Some of the real clients in the past included American Express, Hasbro, Samsung, Bank of America, and Columbia University. Currently, the production company is working on a Gibney Dance
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In celebration of its 20th anniversary, the Reel Works Gala takes place virtually at 7 p.m. EST this Wednesday, May 26. Some of the guests and honorees include actress and producer Issa Rae, playwright Fanshen Cox, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC partner Kalpana Kotagal, vice president for Endeavor Content Dr. Tasmin Plater, film director and chef Eddie Huang, with the event hosted by actor Bryan Terrell Clark.
Check out the exclusive interview with Reel Works co-founder and senior director of education and programming Stephanie Walter Williams and director of workforce and external partnerships Keisha Katz below.