About Us

The Black Women Film Network (BWFN) was founded to increase the numbers of women of all cultures in the film industry and related areas. The organization seeks to preserve the voice of Black women, and unheard part of Black History, through programs that empower and educate.

The Black Women Film Network was established in 1997 for the sole purpose of preserving the voice of Black women through film. The organization provides scholarships to students who are actively pursuing a career in film, screenwriting or a related areas; screenings; workshops and seminars, and is a 501(c)3 nonprofit group. Support to women who are trying to make a career in film is a primary goal of the organization. Annually, the group salutes those who have excelled in this difficult industry. The works of black women on film can be an inspiration and teaching tool for us all, a valuable means for capturing an often unheard of part of Black History. BWFP seeks to preserve that voice.


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Donald Woodard
Board Chairman

Donald Woodard is Chairperson of the Black Women Film Network, the first man to ever serve in that capacity. He is a member of the Advisory Board of Future of Music Coalition, Leadership Council for Zoo Atlanta, 100 Black Men of Atlanta, The Copyright Society of The U.S.A., and Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyers Association among other organizations. Mr. Woodard is originally from the Washington D.C. metropolitan area and is a graduate of Morehouse College and Indiana University School of Law.

He is a Partner in Gordon & Rees’ Sports, Media and Entertainment and Business Transactions Groups. He is a prominent lawyer in the entertainment industry with specialized experience in music, motion picture and television industry transactions, emerging media, digital rights and strategy, social media, copyright and intellectual property, and rights of privacy and publicity.

Mr. Woodard provides comprehensive business and branding counsel to entertainment businesses and corporate clients with respect to all areas of entertainment law, including, recording agreements, music publishing agreements, production and development agreements, reality television talent and production agreements, literary property, content licensing and acquisition agreements, distribution agreements, co-branding agreements, sponsorship agreements and executive compensation agreements.

Mr. Woodard’s counsels high profile celebrities and entertainers, business owners and mid-market entities including recording artists, songwriters, actors and writers affiliated with all of the major record and music publishing companies, Black Entertainment Television, motion pictures such as “Ray,” “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” “American Idol,” “The Voice,” “The New Atlanta”, “Sorority Sisters” and many others. Mr. Woodard has been recognized as a Georgia Super Lawyer, 100 Most Influential People in Entertainment by Rolling Out, Who’s Who in Black Atlanta and was among the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s “40 Under 40 Rising Stars.”

He was the first African American federal judicial clerk on the Northern District of Georgia’s Bankruptcy Court, and oversaw the high profile bankruptcy of best-selling recording group TLC. Mr. Woodard is a frequent lecturer in the entertainment industry and has served on the Board of Governors for the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (the Grammy’s).


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Tomika DePriest
Board Chair Emeritus

Tomika DePriest is Board Chair Emeritus of Black Women Film Network, and has been a member of the board since 2005. She has served as Chair of the Public Relations/Marketing Committee, Chair of the PR/Technology Committee, and on the Executive Committee. With a background in journalism, and television/film production, DePriest has worked on projects with Black Entertainment Television (BET), Turner Broadcasting Systems Inc., and Public Broadcasting Atlanta, where she also serves as a board member.

DePriest served as executive producer of SpelBots: A Documentary, the story of Spelman College’s first all-black, all-female robotics team to qualify to compete in the international Robocup in 2005, which aired on Public Broadcasting Atlanta. In 2007, she was field producer for Spring Break Diaries: Spelman College, broadcasted on BET and BET London. Through her work at Spelman College, she is currently working with author Rachel Vassel on a documentary in partnership with the Digital Moving Image Salon on campus. The title is Daughters of Men, which will take an intimate look at black fatherhood.

A Detroit native, DePriest is currently Executive Director of Communications at Spelman College. She is a member of the President’s cabinet and has overall responsibility for branding, media relations, social media, executive communication, publications, and interactive/web communications. She works with an award-winning team to showcase Spelman's role as a world-class institution with a consistent track record of producing extraordinary leaders, community servants and change agents. Bulldog Reporter, PR News, Atlanta Association of Black Journalists represent some of the organizations that have recognized her team with awards for excellence.

PR News named her PR Person of the Year in Education Finalist in 2009, and in 2004 actually recognized her as PR Executive of the Year in Education Award. In 1999, she received the Spelman College Alumnae Achievement Award. A former journalist, her byline has graced the pages of PR News, Black Enterprise, Dollars & Sense, Upscale, Atlanta Tribune, blackamericaweb.com and creativeloafing.com. She has also published essays in African American Women: An Historical Encyclopedia, Hip Hop Encyclopedia and African Americans in Education.

A Detroit native, DePriest holds a bachelor’s degree from Spelman and master’s degree from Clark Atlanta University.


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Sheryl Riley Gripper, Founder

Sheryl Riley Gripper is Founder and executive director of the Black Women Film Network, an organization that prepares women for work in the film industry and preserves the untold stories of women of all cultures in film and digital media. The organization has given more than $30,000 in scholarships to women pursuing careers in film, broadcast and related areas. BWFN scholarship winners have worked at MTV, NBC and BET. Scholarship winner Alicia Hailey won the prestigious Directors Guild of America (DGA) fellowship and has worked as a 2nd AD on many films, including “Let the Church Say Amen.

A multi-Emmy Award winner, Gripper was Vice-President, Community Relations, for WXIA-TV, 11Alive and WATL-TV 36, for 29 years. She is a Community Relations Consultant for WXIA-TV, 11Alive and Atlanta Technical College. A graduate of Spelman College and Georgia State University, she holds Masters Degrees in Education and Film.

Additionally, Gripper was Founding Executive Director of the BronzeLens Film Festival, a festival that promotes diversity in film. She is also founder of Rosey Posey Pictures, LLC, a company that produces film and digital media that encourage and inspire.

The mother of three, she is the wife of Jeff Gripper, Atlanta’s First World Karate Champion. As a member of Elizabeth Baptist Church, she serves in the Intercessory Prayer and Encouragers ministries. Gripper wrote and produced the documentary, “I Didn’t Make Him, God Did,” the story of three media moms who lose their adult children to murder. Her short film, choreopoem “In the Last Days”, will debut in 2015.