Festival Director - Michelle “Andrea Meshel” Smith, a native of Kingston Jamaica, started her career as a filmmaker in 2008 with a documentary entitled “I Wanna Be President.” Michelle “Andrea Meshel” Smith has written directed and produced several projects over the last eight years, including three short films “Descent,” “Alone,” and “Necrophilia.” She also co-produced the web series “Real Life.” In addition to producing, Michelle “Andrea Meshel” Smith has acted in numerous film and theatrical productions throughout the country. She is committed to portraying positive images of African people.
Michelle “Andrea Meshel” Smith loves and appreciates the power entertainment has to impact the lives of people around the globe. Along with Smith’s passion for the arts in its various forms, Smith has always been a strong proponent for Social Justice. She started the Central Baptist Church Social Justice Ministry and initiated a rights of passage program for the young congregants. The Pembroke Taparelli Arts and Film Festival is Smith coupling of her love for the arts and her passion for social justice. She wanted to take action and provide a platform for those “Artivists” (artist and activist) who seek to use their artistic voice for social change.
Smith’s festival experience was honed during her stint as Programmer for the inaugural Diaspora program for the Hollywood Black Film Festival in 2013. Michelle “Andrea Meshel” Smith holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Adelphi University, and a Juris Doctorate from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.
Business Affairs and Legal - Vical R. Peterson is a graduate of DePaul University’s College of Law and earned a B.S. in Finance from the University of Arizona. Ms. Peterson began her career providing counsel to senior management on employment issues at Pactiv Corporation and subsequently transitioned to a position in media at TV One. She has always had an interest in promoting artistic endeavors, which includes being a member of the California Lawyers for the Arts. To this end, Ms. Peterson has provided legal counsel for nonprofit arts organizations, musicians, managers and producers.
The Pembroke Taparelli Arts and Film Festival is important for artivists because it gives them the opportunity to showcase their work in a setting designed to promote the issues they are passionate about. The social justice issues most important to Ms. Peterson are those relating to and promoting equality for those facing discrimination.
Ronald Jackson - Digital Media Analyst - Ronald Jackson is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles with B.A. degree in Psychology.
His primary professional experience is as a Financial Analyst building financial models for environmental remediation, antitrust, acquisitions and asset valuation reports. A long-standing interest in design and technology has lead him to digital media analytics where identifying, analyzing and presenting data can enhance problem solving and decision making.
A Los Angeles resident, Mr. Jackson enjoys music, art, biking, hiking, beaches, and sports.
New York Outreach and Co-Events Coordinator Deirdre Fisher-Kemp, works as a Project Manager at New York State Affordable Housing Corporation. Deirdre is also a Minister at New Light Baptist Church, where she also serves as Director of the Social Justice Ministry. Deirdre takes an avid interest in service and volunteers for several organizations including Habitat for Humanity, the Red Cross, Gods Love we Deliver and NYC Relief Bus. In addition to her volunteer work Deirdre serves as an Ambassador and Faith-based Coordinator and is an AIDS advocate. Deirdre is a supporter and lover of the arts, which brings her to joining the PTAFF team as our New York Outreach Coordinator. Deirdre is excited to be a part of the Pembroke Taparellli Arts and Film Festival.
Assistant Coordinator Melodi Gulsen graduated from the University of California, Fullerton with a B.A. in Communications: Entertainment and Tourism in 2015. Coming from an extensive background in Music Performance and Creative Assisting in the industry, she has spent the past two years shifting gears into the field of film. Since graduating, she has worked for an educational, acting-based web series as the head Production Manager, Social Media Director and Wardrobe Stylist, as well as, a Personal Assistant to a world-renowned painter in Venice, CA. During Melodi’s final semester in college, she discovered a love for film and television production and screenwriting. Thus far, she has completed scripts for a full episodic pilot and a short film. This year, she has been enjoying volunteering for various film festivals and events in Los Angeles and is thrilled to be a part of the PTAFF Team as Michelle’s right-hand Assistant coordinator.