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Meet our smashing lineup of experienced female powerhouses.

Women in Film & Television Austin was founded in November 2019. For a list of our founding Executive Board Members and Advisory Board Members, click here.

LAURA ANNALORA, PRESIDENT

Wearing hats as diverse as Freelance Producer, Development Consultant and Talent Manager, Laura Annalora has almost two decades of film and television experience, and her work has aired on multiple platforms in over 170 countries.

Annalora has a sixth sense for developing original content that sells. She currently runs her own production company, Queens’ Suite, working with clients like Harper Collins and WebMD to create commercial and branded content. She also freelances as Head of Production for Cannon Lady Pictures, a new independent production company producing scripted and unscripted content. Prior to that, Annalora was at Bat Bridge Entertainment. There she managed a team of development producers and oversaw exclusive network development deals that produced original content seen in 100 million U.S. homes, with two billion viewers digitally. Her strong guidance as Head of Development at Bat Bridge Entertainment led to the successful creation of the Emmy-nominated series, High Profits for CNN, and then went on to develop the Emmy-winning documentary, Disgraced, for SHOWTIME. Prior to Bat Bridge, she was Director of Global Development & Production for National Geographic and Nat Geo Wild, working with over 150 production companies and agencies worldwide to develop original content. Annalora fielded, reviewed, and green-lit innovative TV pilots, one-offs, and series. During her stint as Development Producer and Consultant in Washington, D.C. Annalora made global impact by advancing unique content for independent production companies worldwide, and pitched and sold original ideas to networks, digital platforms, and corporate clients with budgets ranging from $50k-$750k per hour.

Annalora takes a hands-on approach working with field crews, editors and pitch executives to transition ideas into compelling pitch packages. She is accomplished at sourcing strong on-camera talent and crafting pitches for concepts that have included Emmy and Gemini award-winning documentaries, as well as BANFF World Television Award winners. Her unscripted programs have been picked up by major cable networks including National Geographic Channel, CNN, and Showtime.

Annalora brings a fresh perspective and creative ingenuity to quality entertainment.

Contact Laura at president@wiftaustin.org.

ASHTON ALLISON, VICE PRESIDENT

Contact Ashton at vicepresident@wiftaustin.org.

JESSICA SLOAN, SECRETARY 

Jessica Sloan interned at many places in Austin including Austin Film Society, Detour FilmProductions and Miramax. Once employed with Troublemaker Studios she soon realized she loves working with actors. This led her to becoming part of the casting team at Beth Sepko Casting working on the casting side and becoming an Extras Casting Coordinator. While working for Beth, she started an internship at a known talent agency that led to 17 years as a full-time on-camera agent and head of the voiceover department. Her extensive resume of industry work has curated a strong sense for the development of actors and grown strong relationships with the film community in Texas. Jessica has now started her own consulting firm, First Take, teaching the business of acting.

Contact Jessica at secretary@wiftaustin.org.

DEB WILEY, TREASURER

Contact Deb at treasurer@wiftaustin.org.

ELIZABETH LLOYD, PUBLIC RELATIONS

Scottish born Elizabeth Lloyd began her screen career in London, where she was based for seven years working in film and television. She worked on numerous projects for the BBC, ITV and on several independent films.

After moving to Los Angeles in 2009, Elizabeth started her own PR company (Seraphic PR), where she worked as a publicist for nine years. Transitioning back into TV and film, Elizabeth set up the award-winning Seraphic Productions in 2017. She has made several short films, picking up awards for Best Short, Best Director and Audience Choice Award.

Passionate about the horror and paranormal genres,  Elizabeth has a horror short in development and she is also the festival director for indie film festival Ethereal Horror Fest now in its fifth year in Austin TX.

She is a member of Austin Film Society, Women in Film and Television Austin, The Texas Motion Picture Alliance (TXMPA) and an alumni of BAFTA LA (British Academy of Film & Television Arts). 

She now resides in Austin, Texas.

Contact Elizabeth at publicrelations@wiftaustin.org.

KIRTANA BANSKOTA, DEVELOPMENT CHAIR

Kirtana Banskota is a first-generation Nepali American filmmaker based in Austin, Texas. A producer, writer, director, and actor, Banskota wears multiple hats when it comes to the entertainment world. She is the founder of Banskota Productions, an international production house based in Austin as well as Kathmandu Nepal that celebrates storytelling from all across the globe. Banskota wrote and co-produced the very first audience interactive Bollywood Theatrical Production called The Big Fat Indian Wedding in Austin, TX.

Banskota is also the co-founder of the Nepal America Film Society and the Nepal America International Film Festival, both based in Maryland. In the year 2020 during the global pandemic, she co-produced the Coalition of South Asian Film Festivals with six other international South Asian festivals making it the largest virtual South Asian festival. Banskota recently co-founded the Austin South Asian Film Festival, which will see the red carpet for the first time in March 2022.

Her documentary short, Nepal Snehi Kaakha, was an award winner at the 2018 Filmaka competition. Her recent film produced during COVID, Ghar Aau (Come Home), has been selected to screen in numerous film festivals across the globe. Banskota is also the co-author and co-producer of For Love, a film that competed and won several awards at the 48 Hour Film Festival in San Antonio. She is also the Executive Producer of the archeological show A World Beneath, who's pilot episode is currently being pitched to various network channels.

Banskota looks forward to bringing a fresh and diverse perspective to WIFT Austin. With strong roots in South Asia and the US, her goal is to build bridges between cultures through cinema and entertainment.

Contact Kirtana at development@wiftaustin.org.

JACK STEVENS, PROGRAMS CHAIR

Jack Stevens is an artist, actor, writer, and rescue ranch owner.

Contact Jack at programs@wiftaustin.org

SARAH HENDRICKS, MARKETING CHAIR

Sarah Hendricks is a professional storyteller. Her job is to share the history, message, experiences and journey of a company and its brand with their customers and fans through marketing, social media, and public relations. Whether it’s a behind the scenes look or a simple hashtag, there is a story in every nook and cranny of a business. Sarah wants to find that story. And she wants to tell it.

Her passion is creativity and the ever-changing industry. Everyday there is a new trend to be discovered or an innovative app to help improve storytelling and increase revenue.

In addition, she is also an improviser and has written and performed stand-up comedy.

Contact Sarah at marketing@wiftaustin.org.

TORI ROSE, COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP CHAIR

Tori Rose is a jack of all trades on set. She also enjoys volunteering for other film related organizations including Austin Entertainment Business and Austin Film Festival. Film has an important place as an art form in her life and she believes it is one of the most powerful media we have access to as it combines so many different talents and skills. She recently worked as an Office Production Assistant on Jeff Nichols' new film "The Bikeriders" starring Tom Hardy and Austin Butler and appeared in a commercial for Pistol Pete's Tavern.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from Southwestern University with a minor in Philosophy where she received the Laura Kuykendall Communication Student of the Year Award. In 2017, Tori achieved a Master of Arts from Texas State University in the same field with a focus on Qualitative and Rhetorical research in Critical Media Studies. At both universities she studied critical media studies, which furthered her love and passion for narrative and lived experiences in media as important for representation and beyond. Tori also continues to work in academic research currently studying presenteeism (working while sick) and intersectionality in media. Recently, she co-authored an article called, "#RepresentationMatters on TV: A critical textual analysis of intersectional representation at work on NBC's Superstore," in the communication journal Feminist Media Studies.

Some other activities Tori enjoys in her life include hula hooping, running, playing video games, hanging out with her pets, traveling to new places, and discovering new hobbies to try.

Contact Tori at communitypartnerships@wiftaustin.org.

JANELLE LEE AUSTIN, EVENTS CHAIR

Janelle Lee Austin discovered her love for the magic behind the scenes of film sets when her daughter expressed an interest in acting. She was so inspired that she quit her job and went back to school to study film, pursuing her lifelong dream of becoming a scriptwriter. Janelle actively supports independent filmmakers by contributing to Seed&Spark campaigns, and has volunteered as a film screener for the 30th Austin Film Festival. She also interned under the legendary Foley artist, John Roesch, and completed a 150-hour script supervising workshop with Randi Feldman. Janelle is set to graduate from Texas State University in 2025 with a BFA in Cinema Studies.

Contact Janelle at events@wiftaustin.org.

JESSICA GUTIERREZ-HEFNER, MEMBERSHIP CHAIR

Jess is a Creative Producer with over 12 years experience in production management, and content development. 

She has worked on projects in Mexico City such as Nosotros los Nobles (Warner Bros), Club de Cuervos (Netflix), Pulling Strings (Pantelion), Blacker than Night (Videocine) and in 2016, she was one of the producers of La Leyenda del Diamante (Corazon films) which was accepted into and shown at San Diego Comic Con International Film Festival in 2017. 

She was also a producer on Michel Franco’s film, April’s Daughter, winner of the Jury prize in the “Un Certain Regard” section of Cannes International Film Festival in 2017.

From 2018 to 2019, she was Supervising Producer at 11:11 Film & TV, working on the series Rubirosa, La Negociadora and Claramente for the streaming platforms Pantaya (now ViX+) and Clarovideo. 

At the end of 2021, she moved to Austin, where she has worked on various projects including the film Chocolate Lizards that premiered at the Dallas International Film Festival in 2023. 

Most recently she has been developing, packaging and seeking financing for the $3.5M feature film Doll House produced in association with Banskota Productions. As well as developing other upcoming projects, including a film to be shot as an international co-production between Mexico and the US.

Contact Jess at membership@wiftaustin.org.


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