Michal Sinnott’s a multi-disciplinary artist of stage, screen, and console. Born Michal Shalom Leamer, to gypsy artist Christian hippies, Michal was gifted her love for travel that would later shape her writing, living in six different US states by the age of five. She made her directorial debut with ‘Unpacking,’ a micro-budget narrative feature she shot in Bali that’s currently in Post. Michal’s stage-plays received staged-readings and awards in her home state (Virginia) and Hollywood. As a SAG-AFTRA/Equity member, Michal’s appeared in dozens of plays and over fifty principal /starring roles for radio, television, and film. Performance highlights: roles in Spike Lee’s Inside Man, Quid Pro Quo with Vera Farmiga, three separate characters for Law & Order: CI and a solo performance art piece for The Whitney Museum of American Art. Michal’s best known as the performance capture artist for Tracey De Santa, one the main characters in the billion dollar video-game Grand Theft Auto V. A former flight attendant, she has visited over 35 countries on six continents. She lives in NYC with her husband Joseph.
Nwaka Onwusa // Producer
Nwaka Ngozi Onwusa is the Chief Curator and Vice President of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Prior to that she served as the Curator of the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles. Born in Compton & raised in Fontana, CA, Onwusa began her career at the Grammy Museum in the box office following a degree in Sociology at UC Riverside. With experience in education & in theater & the arts, Onwusa was offered the opportunity to advance as the Education Coordinator. Onwusa immediately became active in this department writing curricula, teaching workshops, booking & interviewing talent for education workshops, & more. She facilitated educational events & programs for inner-city youth, oversaw the Grammy Museum’s summer camp, Summer Sessions, & Music Industry Photography workshop for students, providing exposure to students who would have otherwise never held a camera. She worked at the Museum for a total of 10 years & curated some 20+ exhibitions before moving to The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in January of 2019. Passionate about music, education, & history, she is committed to working in her community & inspiring youth to become involved in the arts & museum studies. She holds a Masters Degree from USC Sol Price School of Public Policy.
Emma Berdie Donson grew up in Ossining, NY and graduated with a BFA in Acting (High Honors) from the University of Michigan. She has produced the plays Flu Season and Hamlet (as an immersive, interactive experience in a tea shop) in Los Angeles as well as 2 showcases for the Michael Laskin Acting Studio. She produced the feature Shot in the Dark which is now represented by Raven Banner Entertainment for distribution. She also produced a charity concert featuring Betsy Randle for End The Backlog in early 2020. She is an Artist in Residence with the Jewish Women’s Theatre and has toured the US with them. She’s enjoying getting to know her new city of Austin, TX and loves spending sunny days outside with her Fox Terrier, Winnie, making jewelry by hand (caesurastudio.com), & teaching cardio dance!
Mary has spent much of the last decade working to help others heal through her art, writing, healing practice, & bread baking. Much of it began with the creation of Born That Way, the feature she co-wrote with her best friend Michal Sinnott during her first cross country move west after college. She and Michal met studying drama together at Catholic University. In addition to writing a feature that emphasizes the need for social justice & spark towards hope for humanity, Mary extended her healing mission into practicing holistic medicine. In 2015 she became a Physician of Chinese Medicine, graduating magna cum laude & as valedictorian of her cohort. She’s in private practice in Hopewell, NJ. While completing her graduate studies degree, she found another way to excite her community towards a more holistic lifestyle by starting her company, Bread Culture. She teaches dough to loaf bread classes to kids & adults all over zoom worldwide.
Rob Travalino // Co-Executive Producer
Rob brings two decades of experience in producing, strategizing, story-forming, managing, writing & marketing entertainment & gaming properties, for major clients like Dreamworks, Disney, Lucasfilm, Warner Brothers, Sega of America, Coca-Cola, Hasbro Inc & more. Rob is writer & producer on the upcoming feature On The Wings Of The Phoenix, the amazing true story of Dr. Feng Shan Ho (China’s Oskar Schindler), a man who in pre-war Vienna, saved thousands of Jews from the coming Holocaust. Chow Yun Fat has committed to the project which is out for packaging. In the publishing space, Rob just finished his manuscript for The Snowman, a remarkable look into the personal life and musings of boxing great Muhammad Ali as told by one of his closest confidants. The book is repped by NY lit agent Linda Langton and will be developed for TV next year. Earlier in his career, Rob was a key development force behind helping G.I. Joe & Transformers become feature film franchises for Hasbro Entertainment. Rob also worked as story consultant on How To Train Your Dragon for DreamWorks & has done the same work for the Star Wars, Batman, and Harry Potter franchises. In the kids’ tv space, Rob cocreated & story edited Dragon Booster for Disney & co-created “Growing Up Creepy” for Discovery Kids. Winner of the Emmy, Gemini & Telly Awards, Rob has written & produced nearly 50 half-hours of tv, coauthored several YA novels & created gaming & publishing programs for many of the world’s biggest brands. Rob has produced & directed over 200 TV commercials & is a member of the Directors Guild of America.
Kerry Schneider // Associate Producer
Kerry is currently the Director of Partnership Activation and Virtual Event Producer for Net Results Marketing in Washington, DC. Prior to her current position, Schneider led sponsorship sales and servicing for more than two years at Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ). As Head of Corporate Partnerships, she secured and managed over $1.5 million in annual cash and in-kind sponsorships for FONZ’s signature fundraising events and select education and membership programming. Before joining FONZ, she served as Chief of Staff for Vemo Education, a Virginia-based education finance start-up. Schneider also spent 12 years as part of the management team at World TeamTennis (WTT), the co-ed professional tennis league founded by Billie Jean King. Schneider served in various capacities throughout her tenure at WTT, including General Manager of the Austin Aces, General Manager of the Orange County Breakers, and led sponsor servicing and activation of national and regional sponsorships for the WTT League office for 10 years. A graduate of Loyola College in Maryland, Schneider holds a B.B.A. in Marketing from the institution where she was also a member of the tennis team.
Michelle Kantor co-founded Cinefemme, an organization dedicated to female filmmakers, as a graduate student at San Francisco State University & has served as Executive Director since 2007. She is an award-winning director, producer, writer & editor dedicated to advancing women in the professional ranks of cinema. Michelle’s industry credits include work for advertising agency BBDO, Logo’s “Gay for Play Starring RuPaul,” HBO, FYI, OWN, World of Wonder, The History Channel, Sony, Universal, MJA Advertising, & NASA. Michelle’s distinctions include Best Music Video at LA Femme Film Festival, Goldfarb Award for Best Student Film, & Thunen Memorial Scholarship from the Illuminating Engineers Society. She holds an MFA in Cinema from SFSU, & BFA in Film Production from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Michelle is also a certified paralegal, artist, mother & writer. The youngest daughter of political refugees who fled Communist Czechoslovakia in the 1960s, she is producing two projects about her family’s historic escapes: Red Star documents her father’s return on the 50th anniversary of his escape, & The Rebel, a narrative feature film in development.
An ADC Young Gun and Emmy Award nominee, Jordan Bruner is an artist and animation director exploring human and animal experiences in colorful fantasy worlds. She has directed films for clients such as the NYTimes, The Atlantic, Google, Eve Ensler, and TED. Her films have shown at festivals worldwide and her illustration work has been honored by the Society of Illustrators and American Illustration. Jordan enjoys reading, cooking vegan food and hangin’ with her partner Zack and cat Pablo. She recently moved to beautiful Richmond, VA after spending over a decade in New York.
David Sevuri, who brings decades of experience, heads TRUE VISION PRODUCTION (T) LTD. He joined the film industry in 1995 with his sharp skill of building up the media industry with a keen eye towards film production & a know-how of the business of Tanzania & International Cinema. He holds a degree in Mass Communication & brings a very acute judgment of what works in a particular market. He has often been a consultant to various projects related to audio / visual productions where his role has been to make projects viable for international markets or commercial success in Tanzania & beyond. Add to that, a wonderful circle of friends & networks he has in various film festivals, & broadcasters, which makes him a valuable asset in the African film market. He excels in managing multiple projects from concept development through execution & delivery while meeting all budget & schedule requirements. He’s lauded in establishing win-win relationships with people of diverse cultures, with a proven ability to multitask in a fastpaced environment. David works mainly on directing documentaries, short/experimental films, & corporate films while delivering quality services to clients in the Government, the private sector, NGO’s & International Agencies in Tanzania, Zambia, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda & Burundi.
Katherin is a documentary filmmaker, cinematographer, and photographer based in Brooklyn, NY. Her work tends to blur the borders of narrative and experimental documentary and is deeply inspired by sound and technology. In May 2014, she released her first feature documentary, CLIM8, at the Altitudes Festival in Switzerland. Katherin was a fellow at the UnionDocs Collaborative Studioin 2014-15 where she co-directed and shot, Animal Landlords and I Was Here First. The latter premiered at the DOC NYC Film Festival in November 2015. Katherin also contributed to the Sisters of the Wicked Wig, a documentary on Brooklyn drag culture, which premiered at the LA Indie Film Festival in March 2016. Born That Way is her first narrative feature film.
Digital Marketing Team
Riley Pranian is originally from Skokie, Illinois, and is currently a junior at Pace University in New York City. She is pursuing a degree in Business Economics with a minor in Arts and Entertainment Management. She has obtained multiple leadership positions on her college campus, including being an Orientation Leader, a Resident Assistant, and the Philanthropy Chair for the Delta Theta chapter of Sigma Delta Tau. Over the past three years, she has worked and interned with multiple Chicagoland theatre companies (Mudlark Theater, The Miracle Center) and Broadway Offices (Stacey Mindich Productions, 101 Productions, Ltd.). In her free time, she loves horseback riding, listening to music, and eating good pizza.”
Dyna Drones, LLC is an FAA approved aerial cinematography company that captures stunning shots from the air using state of the art technology. As experts in the field, their pilots have over 15 years of experience with remote-controlled aircraft. As one of Born That Way’s Partners, Dyna Drones accompanied the Born That Way Team to Tanzania in July & August 2017 for the African portion of production.
Ganderson Des Rochers LLP (GDR) is one of the premier entertainment law firms
focusing on independent film. Bianca has provided legal services on a wide array of titles
including The 40-Year-Old Version, Cutie and the Boxer, Certain Women, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Skeleton Twins, Premature, and more.
Born That Way is a recipient of Big Vision Empty Wallet’s Kickstart Diversity Program. The program encourages diversity in storytelling at the independent level by supporting projects written, directed, and/or produced by Women, People of Color and Members of the LGBTQ Community.
Through the program, Born That Way will receive 15-75% discounts from vendors nationwide for everything from camera rentals to sound design to deliverables to marketing, saving money through all stages of production, and giving the investor more bang for your buck. The program also offers exclusive access to education and distribution opportunities, that will aid Born That Way in building and activating its audience.