2012 Athena Award Winners

Nekisa Cooper

Nekisa Cooper, producer of Pariah, is a 2008 Sundance Institute Creative Producing Fellow and represented the Independent Filmmaker Project at the 2009 Cinemart/Rotterdam Producing Lab. Cooper has also produced the short films Orange Bow (as co-producer) and Colonial Gods, and is currently in post-production on the feature documentary La muñeca fea, a Creative Promise Award winner from the 2009 Tribeca All Access Program and 2010 Elizabeth Peña Fellowship Award Winner through Film Independent.  She earned a BA from The College of William & Mary and an MBA in marketing from Clark Atlanta University.



The Fempire: Diablo Cody, Dana Fox, Liz Meriwether, and Lorene Scafaria – This Hollywood powerhouse writing posse includes four writers, each of whom have demonstrated remarkable success in her own right. Cody won an Oscar® for Best Original screenplay for Juno. Her film Young Adult was released to critical acclaim in December 2011. Lorene Scafaria is the screenwriter for Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist and made her directorial debut with Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, which she also wrote. Dana Fox wrote What Happens in Vegas, The Wedding Date and co-wrote Couples Retreat. She also did rewrites on 27 Dresses and Knight and Day. Liz Meriwether is the screenwriter of the 2011 film, No Strings Attached, and the creator and executive producer of the hit Fox comedy New Girl, starring Zooey Deschanel.

Rachael Horovitz

Rachael Horovitz, a veteran of the film industry, is a producer of the Oscar®-nominated hit Moneyball one of the most critically acclaimed films of 2012. Horovitz’s producing credits also include HBO’s Grey Gardens (2009) for which she received an Emmy, a Golden Globe, Best Film from the Broadcast and Television Critics Awards and the 2010 David Wolper Producer of the Year Award from the Producers Guild. About Schmidt (2002) was also produced by Horovitz (the film won Golden Globe Awards for Jack Nicholson’s performance as well as the screenplay, and was nominated for two Academy Awards®). Other films include State and Main (2000), Next Stop Wonderland (1998) and No Telling (1990).

Theresa Rebeck

Theresa Rebeck is an award-winning and widely-produced playwright, and a successful author of books, films and television. Her play Seminar, starring Alan Rickman, was on Broadway. She made her Broadway debut in 2007 with Mauritius, which won Boston’s prestigious IRNE and the Elliot Norton Award. Some of her recent plays include Poor Behavior; What We’re Up Against; and  Bad Accounts, which was commissioned by Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park.  On the television side, Rebeck was the creator and Executive Producer for Smash. Rebeck has written a number of films including Harriet the Spy, Gossip, Sunday on the Rocks and Seducing Charlie Barker, and two novels: Three Girls and Their Brother (Random House/Shaye Areheart 2008) and Twelve Rooms With A View (Random House/Shaye Areheart 2010)

Dee Rees

Dee Rees, the writer and director of one of 2011’s standout feature films Pariah, was named “Breakthrough Director” at the Gotham Awards. An alumna of NYU’s graduate film program and a 2008 Sundance Screenwriting & Directing Lab Fellow, Rees has written and directed several short films, including Orange Bow and Pariah. The latter, completed in 2007, screened at over 40 festivals worldwide (including Sundance), garnered 25 Best Short awards and was a finalist for the 2009 Sundance/NHK International Award. Rees was also selected as a 2008 Tribeca Institute/Renew Media Arts Fellow for her work, was chosen as one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film” for 2008, and was nominated for a USA Fellowship in 2009.

Julie Taymor

Julie Taymor, in her distinguished career that spans the globe, Julie Taymor has directed a wide range of theatrical performances on and off Broadway, classical operas and Hollywood films. She directed The Lion King which won five Tony Awards including two for Taymor for best costume design as well as for best direction of a musical, making her the first woman to receive that honor. Her film Frida (2002), was nominated for six Academy Awards®  Taymor’s other films include Titus (2002), Across the Universe (2007), and The Tempest (2010) starring Helen Mirren. Her work developing and directing SPIDER-MAN: Turn Off the Dark on Broadway has helped the show become one of the top grossing shows currently in production.