Women Making Waves Award.

The Women Making Waves Award recognizes women in the media industry who shift and challenge our perception of women in real life, paving the way for others to benefit in her footsteps, to the benefit of all.
The Women Making Waves Award is presented during the annual Women’s Voices Now Film Festival Awards Ceremony. Our Awardee delivers keynote remarks to a live, global audience in a virtual setting, available to anyone with an internet connection. We believe the power of film transforms our lives and should be an accessible vehicle of change; for all. Our Film Festival is an international women’s rights documentary film festival celebrating the achievements in visual storytelling of emerging filmmakers from around the world.

Ahdeya Al Sayed

2024 Awardee

Ahdeya Al Sayed, former President of the Bahrain Journalists Association, is currently the Editor-in-Chief of the Times of Bahrain. She was the first female to be elected to chair the Bahrain Journalists association since its establishment in the year 2000. During her presidency, Ahdeya campaigned for higher administrative posts for women in the field of the press and media. She won the 2019 Female Arab Journalist of the Year Award, from the London Arabia Organization; the theme of the event focused on ending honor killings.

She currently writes for several regional newspapers and has been the most active female journalist in the Arabian Gulf region advocating for peace, advocating bringing an end to extremism and terrorism to create a more stable and secure Middle East, where all peoples and religions coexist in peace. She’s appeared on BBC, Sky News Arabiya, Al Hadath, MBC, I24, and France 24, defending her belief in peace, women’s empowerment, and highlighting how women should not be sidelined in the political arena.

Ahdeya also worked as a media advisor for Bahrain’s government, and served as a spokesperson for Bahrain’s parliamentary and municipal elections in 2006. She is a founding member of the Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society and was its spokesperson.

Lilan Bowden

2023 Awardee

Lilan Bowden is an actor/director most notable for her role as “Bex” on Disney Channel’s Television Academy Honors and GLAAD award winning show Andi Mack. You can see her currently on Apple TV’s Shrinking, or Netflix’s series Murderville. Credits also I Think you should Leave, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Drunk History, Future Man, Parks and Recreation, and many more. 

She is a proud participant of the Disney/ABC Director’s Program, and recently directed the Disney Channel show Villains of Valley View. Her directorial debut Becoming Eddie was an Official Selection at numerous film festivals, and is the inspiration for developing the TV series version in collaboration with Sony Pictures Entertainment. 

She comes from an improv comedy background and performs often in Los Angeles. Since college she has kept an interest in community organizing and politics, and in her work, she is drawn to telling and amplifying stories that feature people from underrepresented backgrounds.

Sujata Day

2022 Awardee

With her infectious personality and unique sense of humor, Pittsburgh native Sujata Day has established herself as a multi-talented performer, creator, writer, and director. Sujata is known for her starring role as CeCe in Issa Rae’s “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl”. 

She’s recurred for four seasons on HBO’s “Insecure”. Sujata is a Sundance Lab fellow, Sundance Film Festival influencer, and HBO Visionaries Ambassador. 

Her short film, “Cowboy and Indian”, sold to a major studio for series development. She produces and directs “This Is My Story”, a series in which beloved storyteller LeVar Burton narrates real life personal experiences of everyday racism. Sujata’s debut award-winning feature film, “Definition Please”, was acquired by Ava DuVernay’s Array and streams on Netflix.

Gina Brourman-Sacks

10 Years of Excellence in Board Service

Gina was born and raised in South Korea where she attended the prestigious Yewon School of Arts in Seoul. At the age of 15, she and her family emigrated to the United States. After winning a piano competition, Gina won a full scholarship to the University of Illinois, where she earned a degree in Classical Music with a minor in Business. She has worked as a medical administrator/manager, and is a co-founder of the ALS Research Fund.

Gina is actively involved in numerous philanthropic causes, specifically those which support medical and humanitarian endeavors. Growing up in South Korea, she witnessed cultural, economic, and gender inequality firsthand. Gina has served as the Board Chair of Women’s Voices Now since 2013, and continues to fight for the equal rights of all women, in honor of her late-husband and founder of Women’s Voices Now, Leslie Sacks.

Previous Keynote Speakers at Our Festival.

Jaina Lee Ortiz

2022 Keynote Speaker

With humble beginnings as a professional salsa dancer in the Bronx, New York, Jaina Lee Ortiz set her sights on her dream of becoming an actor. After moving to Los Angeles, California, she made her television debut in Amazon’s “The After,” created by Chris Carter (perhaps best known for his writing of the drama series, “X-Files”).

Jaina starred as the female lead in Fox’s “Rosewood,” then completed a major recurring arc opposite Ryan Phillippe in the second season of the USA hit series “Shooter.” Jaina stars in ABC’s drama “Station 19”, the series from Shonda Rhimes follows a group of heroic firefighters in Seattle.

She was asked personally by Chief Justice Sonia Sotomayor to voice her audiobook, The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor. She is also heavily involved in the Skid Row Housing Trust, in Los Angeles, California, which helps to provide permanent and supportive housing so that those who have experienced homelessness, poverty, poor health, disabilities, mental illness and/or addiction – can lead safe, stable lives in wellness.

Helen Mirren

2021 Keynote Speaker

Helen Mirren is one of the best known and respected actresses with a career that spans stage, screen and television over five decades. Renowned for her performance in The Queen for which she won an Oscar and is the only actress to have portrayed both Queen Elizabeth I and Elizabeth II on screen. 

She’s played the tough talking DCI Jane Tennison in Prime Suspect and has had a distinguished theatre career including working with the RSC and the National Theatre. She has scooped numerous awards throughout her career and in 2014 was awarded the prestigious BAFTA Fellowship. 

More recently she appeared in the TV series Catherine The Great and her forthcoming film with Jim Broadbent is The Duke. She was appointed Dame of the British Empire in 2003.

Shohreh Aghdashloo

2011 Keynote Speaker

Shohreh Aghdashloo is an Iranian and American actress. She has received various accolades, including a Primetime Emmy Award and a Satellite Award, in addition to a nomination for an Academy Award. Following numerous starring roles on the stage, she made her film debut in Chess of the Wind. 

Shohreh’s other prestigious TV credits include: The Punisher, Grimm, Grey’s Anatomy, House MD, Law and Order, Portlandia, Will and Grace, among many others. Shohreh’s work in film includes blockbusters such as: Star Tred Beyond, X-Men -The Last Stand, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and The Lake House. 

Shohreh is also an author, her memoir titled The Alley of Love and Yellow Jasmines was released by Harper Collins publishing in 2013. In the book Shohreh shares her fascinating personal journey of growing up in Tehran and the path that lead her to Los Angeles, where she juggled work, acting, and a family before landing the roles that would make her a star.

Festival Sponsors.

In a world that is so connected, yet, at the same time, so polarized, we need exposure to stories that remind us of our shared humanity. Women’s Voices Now carefully selects films and filmmakers telling stories that move us to empathy.

~ Helen Mirren, Actress (Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe winner), 2021 WVN Film Festival Keynote Speaker ~

July 15: "Screams Before Silence" Screening & Reception.