WIFT (Women in Film Television) NSW Is Set To Shake up The Australian Entertainment Industry

WIFT (Women in Film Television) NSW is expanding and is shaking things up. With a growing team, they expect flow overgrowth in advocacy and industry change.  

As a WIFT Australia member, you automatically become a member of your state chapter. COVID has impacted their footprint, but with a new team and fresh energy they are shaking things up. They want to hear your voice, see your face, and invite you to collaborate, network and make changes together.   

Women in Film & Television Australia (WIFT Australia) is dedicated to achieving gender equality in the Australian screen industry through research, advocacy, education, and support for all identifying women and non-binary screen industry practitioners. WIFT NSW sits under the umbrella of WIFT Australia and holds a strong voice on the national board as well as home to valuable WIFT flagship programs, such as WIFT Virtual, Raising Films, and Mentor Her to name a few.

The NSW committee is made up of dedicated volunteers. They give their time and energy to ensure their members get the most of their membership. The more involvement from the members with their Chapter committee, the more it can shape activities and actions to fulfill the reason why members joined WIFT in the first place, and how they can turn values and propositions into action. It starts local to affect the National to, in turn, affect the global.

Yolandi Franken is the new NSW representative on the WIFT Australia board, following in the footsteps of Megan Riakos, to further invigorate and energise its WIFT NSW chapter members, ready to fuel positive change within the film and television industry at a state level. Yolandi has multiple roles in WIFT as NSW Board member, the Co-chair of events (NSW committee), Interim Secretary of WIFT Australia board, and Chair of WIFT Virtual (National). 

There is strength in numbers and Yolandi surrounds herself with other strong women of WIFT who work alongside her, helping WIFT NSW make an even bigger impact.  Each team member brings something unique and special to the table.  The current team is based on members who have reached out and offered support and those that have been there since WIFT Australia was formed.

After the WIFT Australia AGM in November, there will be a NSW Chapter AGM to vote for an official committee. WIFT NSW members over 12 months subscribed can be nominated. Stay tuned for our nominations form coming out in mid-October. 


WIFT NSW Board Member, since 2021

WIFT NSW Co-Chair, Events Committee, since 2019

WIFT Australia Interim Secretary (National Level), since 2021

WIFT Virtual – Chair (On national Level), Since 2020

Yolandi Franken (she/her) is a South African Born, Australian citizen. She has a background of strong advocacy work in multicultural communities (nominated Australian of the Year in 2015 for her community work). She is a successful, up and coming Film & TV Producer, with a number of feature films and TV Shows behind her. She was the founder of Cause Film Festival and was its Festival Director for 3 years. Yolandi is also the Editor in Chief for Film Central Magazine and a co-producer on several multi-cultural film projects currently in development.  

Co-Chair, NSW Events Team – since 2019

Vanessa Klingler(she/her) is a German born Australian resident. She has over 10 years of marketing and communications experience across Industry and Commerce, Arts and Film and Book publishing.   Vanessa works closely with Yolandi in the NSW events.  Her marketing and communications skills have helped manifest many successful WIFT NSW events.

Team Member, NSW Events Team – since 2018

Sally Williams (she/her) is Australian born with Anglo-Saxon descendants.  She is an actor who works with diverse community groups and has worked on a variety of art mediums. She brings her skills from previous event and performance management into the NSW Events team. Sally volunteers at WIFT NSW to support and collaborate to help women in the film industry progress.

LGBTQI+ Advocate, WIFT NSW team – since 2021

Nicole Pastor (she/her) is Australian born with Anglo-Saxon descendants. An emerging actor having worked with Directors including Alex Proyas, Jennifer Van Gessel, and Michael Budd. She has an enthusiastic approach to her role as an advocate having been recently open about her own LGBTQI+ status.  ‘I am always eager to grow and learn more and I’m super excited for this next chapter in my life” says Nicole.  Her role will help bring equal opportunities for our LGBTQI+ members’ voices to the table to ensure WIFT NSW offers a safe and inclusive environment and events.  

Grants Manager, WIFT NSW – since 2021

Nicole Pesa (she/her) is Australian born with Anglo-Saxon descendants. Nicole has joined the team as Grants Manager and will source and oversee the funding and grants applications. She holds a degree in English Literature and Psychology (Hons). Leveraging her background in psychology, she soon found her passion for writing all things genre.  Her first feature film, a psychological thriller, is currently in development.  Of recent note, Nicole was longlisted in this year’s Australian Writer’s Guild Monte Miller Awards and shortlisted for the Screen NSW Emerging Writer’s Incubator.  

Copywriter, NSW WIFT Team – since 2021

Karen Witt (she/her) is an Australian born with Anglo-Saxon descendants.  She is an author with long-term experience dealing with government bureaucracy. She has published two children’s books and a couple of her screenplays have been acquired and are in development.  With decades of experience working for the NSW Government in Emergency Management, Disaster Welfare, Child Protection, Adoption, and Foster Care, Karen also brings a wealth of knowledge around pastoral care for our members and community.

Indigenous Awareness Representative (temporary), since 2021

Ljudan Michaelis-Thorpe (she/her) identifies as a Bidjara and Dhunghutti woman. She sits on the WIFT Australia board as the Indigenous Lead. Currently, she is assisting the NSW Team to find a local NSW representative. Ljudan calls Northern Rivers, NSW, home but lives in Qld.  Ljudan is an emerging writer/producer for Drama & Factual with experience in Indigenous governance, entrepreneurial business development, leadership, philanthropy, and cultural awareness training and facilitation. 

Diversity Advocate, WIFT NSW Team – since 2021 

Aska Karem (she/her) is a Kurdish woman who came to Australia as a refugee from her home country of Kurdistan.  She is a psychologist, writer and actor who recently appeared in George Miller’s film ‘Three Thousand Years of Longing’.  Speaking three languages fluently, Kurdish, Persian, and Turkish, Aska is devoted to culture and diversity, ensuring that all stories and experiences are presented in a variety of ways. She brings a cultural lens to the way that WIFT NSW will move forward in 2021 and beyond. 

Diversity Advocate, WIFT NSW Team, since 2021 

Bolude Watson (she/her).  Bolude is a Nigerian-born, American-raised, Actor.  Moving to Sydney, Australia, in 2014 from Los Angeles, ignited her career with the kickoff of her starring role in Ché Baker’s Sci-fi film ‘Blue World Order’ as the female lead, Marion Connors.  Most recently Bolude wrapped on the feature film ‘Hearts and Bones’ starring opposite Hugo Weaving.  Directed by Ben Lawrence this landed Bolude the nomination of Best Supporting Actor for her role of Anishka.  Soon after, Bolude was awarded CGA Rising Star – a prestigious award given by Casting Guild Australia.  As an African American with a deep passion for storytelling, Bolude’s goal is to be part of the movement that creates a space for diverse voices in film and television.

Diversity Advocate, WIFT NSW Team, since 2021 

Kathy Luu (she/her).  Kathy is an Actor, Director, Photographer, Writer, and Artist.  Born in Sydney to Vietnamese refugee parents, she studied law and film at UNSW, before becoming all these other things.  Driven by her deep care for humanity and people’s wellbeing, and the unlimited joy and creativity of being human, she is inspired by work that is emotionally responsible and simultaneously bold, funny, unique, and playful. 

The world is hungry for real art that nourishes our souls, and we as women carry a kitchen full of the best produce with us!  If I can help my sisters, even in a small way, to get their kitchen fire started up, I and the world will have the joy of sharing in and celebrating the delicious feast they cook up!  What a banquet that will be!  I’m a soul foodie after all” says Kathy.

Industry Connect, WIFT NSW Team, since 2021 

Georgina Lloyd (she/her) is a Sydney-based actor, singer, and voice-over artist. She most recently voiced the R U OK? 2021 campaign and read for Rough Drafts at the Sydney Theatre Company. Celebrating her mixed heritage, British-Australian with Assyrian heritage, Georgina is passionate about championing culturally and linguistically diverse communities and their cultural expression. Her journey is about staying true to what your heart desires and pursuing it with integrity, fearlessness, and unrelenting tenacity. Her role will be to source and connect WIFT NSW members with external industry-related opportunities.

WIFT NSW and WIFT Australia has an open-door policy for anyone wishing to join the team and to help make a difference.  Whether it be in events or advocacy, there’s plenty of opportunities.

WIFT is a membership driven organization.  By just signing up you are already contributing to change.

For more information about WIFT events, advocacy, and memberships, please visit: www.wiftaustralia.org.au