KAMALA LOPEZ – DIRECTOR/WRITER/PRODUCER
Actress, filmmaker, activist and President of Heroica Films, Kamala Lopez, has launched the movement and the film EQUAL MEANS EQUAL to educate Americans about the importance of equal rights under federal law for women. Born in New York City to an Indian mother and a Venezuelan father, Lopez has worked as an actor in over 30 feature films including Born in East L.A., Deep Cover, The Burning Season (winner of two Emmys, three Golden Globes and the Humanitas Prize), Clear and Present Danger, Lightning Jack, and I Heart Huckabees. She has starred in over 60 television shows including Medium, 24, Alias, NYPD Blue, Hill Street Blues, Miami Vice, and 21 Jump Street (winner of the Imagen Award). She also hosted the PBS series Wired Science.
A Yale University graduate in Philosophy and Theatre Studies, Lopez formed her production company Heroica Films in 1995 with the mission to write, direct and produce media for women, about women and utilizing women both in front and behind the camera.
Her film, A Single Woman, about the life of first Congresswoman Jeannette Rankin, won the 2009 Exceptional Merit in Media Award from the National Women’s Political Caucus. In 2013 her short Spanish-language film Ese Beso won the Jury Award at the Senorita Cinema Festival and the Audience Award at the Boyle Heights Latina Film Festival.
In 2009 Lopez began the ERA Education Project, creating multi-media PSAs and FAQs, social media campaigns, and educational videos, and piloting curriculum and speaking around the country. She has been the Keynote or Featured Speaker in venues as disparate as the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery and The United Nations to The National Arts Club and the Yale Women Global Conference. She’s met with “at-risk” girls and other children through Mayor Villaraigosa’s Partnership for Los Angeles schools.
Her work on behalf of women and girls has been recognized by Los Angeles County’s Board of Supervisors and the Women’s Commission, who named her 2015 Woman of the Year (Arts/Media). In 2012 Women’s eNews selected her as one of the 21 Leaders for the 21st Century and the National Women’s Political Caucus named her the 2011 Woman of Courage.
EQUAL MEANS EQUAL is a labor of love that Lopez embarked on six years ago when she first realized that women still did not have Constitutional protections in the United States and that, like she, most Americans were unaware of this fact.
LIZ LOPEZ – EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
An educator, Liz Lopez was the Founder and Director of “Escuela Uno,” a private school in Caracas, Venezuela. Her belief in making truthful information available for the young and old so that they can make educated and forward-thinking decisions concerning themselves and the world has been an integral part of her life.
Born in Rangoon, Burma and educated in India, Kansas and New York City and having lived in South America, she holds the view that our differences are few and our commonality when shown openly, holds us together globally for a great and better future.
JOEL MARSHALL – PRODUCER
Raised in the Seattle area, Joel began his career in the theater interning at Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago; and working with Shakespeare & Company in Massachusetts. Then in Los Angeles he produced and starred in the play Boy’s Life, at Theatre West and developed the hit play Resa Fanstastisk Mystisk with the renowned theatre troupe The Burglars of Hamm. More recently Joel has collaborated with his wife Kamala Lopez, writing, producing, editing, technical supervising, acting and directing on various projects, including the movie A Single Woman, the indie film podcast FatFreeFilm, the successful WGA online media campaign Speechless Without Writers, and the short films Coffee Clutch, Filet of 4, Ese Beso, Dark Knight Aurora and SLOB90X. Joel has also produced and built media websites such as Regina Taylor’s CrownstheGospelMusical.com, ReginaTaylor.com and the workout spoof site SLOB90X.com.
Joel was one of the founders of the ERA Education Project and produced and built the ERAEducationproject.com site and ERAUniversity.com, where he and Kamala did a pilot program working with students from Santa Monica college to create media and blogs centering around the Equal Rights Amendment. He is on the board of the Heroica Foundation, and also holds a technology position at the law firm Latham & Watkins. Joel has a BFA in Drama from the University of Washington in Seattle, and an MFA from CalArts.
GINI SIKES – CO-WRITER/PRODUCER
Gini Sikes is a documentary filmmaker and investigative journalist, a web editor/writer, magazine editor and an author, who creates films and writes stories on subjects ranging from homeless kids in America to female circumcision in Africa. She’s captured the inner lives of ingénues and prostitutes, priests and prisoners, vice cops and vice presidents, drug mules and chimpanzees (they spoke sign language).
Sikes’ area of expertise and passion is women’s and youth issues. For MTVNews’ True Life documentary series, she directed episodes on club drugs, gang violence, prostitution and teen sexual health. She received a News Emmy nomination for Where Were You At 22?, a Rock The Vote/Choose or Lose election special, which covered the lives of the 2000 presidential candidates when they were the age of MTV’s viewers. She has created programs for PBS, Discovery Health, Court TV, Vh1, Investigative Discovery, TLC, Voice of America radio and more.
Sikes was a producer on the film by award-winning director Ilan Ziv, Jesus Politics, a look at how God entered the voting booth during the 2008 presidential race. In 2012 she joined Ziv’s team for a six-part international television series for ARTE (French-German TV) about capitalism and the global economic crisis.
On the web Sikes helped create and launch http://executionchronicles.org, a site connected to a documentary about the conviction, imprisonment and execution of Mark Stroman, who killed two people as revenge for 9/11. She was also a producer and writer with the ERAEducationproject.com and ERAUniversity.com, working on a pilot program for high school and college students.
Sikes was senior editor/writer at Metropolis and Mademoiselle magazines. Her articles have appeared in The New York Times, Vibe, Essence, Washington Post, Ebony, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, Travel and Leisure, among others.
Sikes’ book 8 Ball Chicks: A Year in the Violent World Of Girl Gangsters (Anchor/Doubleday), chronicles a year spent with female gang members in three American cities. 8 Ball Chicks received favorable coverage in The New York Times Magazine, Elle, Glamour, MS, Kirkus, Publishers’ Weekly, Library Journal. She has appeared on TV and radio shows and lectured on gangs around the country.
Among her honors, she was awarded a Knight Fellowship for journalists from Stanford University and a Planned Parenthood Maggie Award for exceptional media coverage of reproductive health. She earned a master’s from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
PATRICIA ARQUETTE – EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Actress, writer and activist Patricia Arquette has spent her career portraying memorable characters in film and on television. Winner of both the Academy Award and the Emmy for her acting, Arquette has chosen to use her considerable visibility to shine a light on issues and speak for people whose voices are rarely heard. Her work post Katrina and then in Haiti after the devastating hurricanes in 2012 led to the creation of the organization “Give Love” to help those still suffering.
As a young single mother, Arquette struggled to make ends meet with her son, Enzo. Later, in the film Boyhood, which was filmed over the course of 12 years, Arquette portrayed a woman faced with many of the struggles raised in EQUAL MEANS EQUAL – single motherhood, poverty, domestic violence and abuse. When Arquette raised the issue of equality and fair wages for women at the 2015 Academy Awards, the world took notice. She has galvanized a growing movement determined to achieve equality for women in the United States. She has been a steadfast champion of the film and the women it seeks justice for over the course of many years.
JYOTI SARDA – CO-EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Jyoti Sarda currently serves as Vice President of Marketing at Paramount Home Media International. Since 2011, she has led all facets of global marketing operations for Paramount partner brands including Dreamworks, Marvel, Lucasfilm, CBS, Showtime, MTV & Nickelodeon while overseeing international marketing of Paramount’s film catalog and acquisitions. Prior to Paramount, Jyoti worked at Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, spearheading the international new releases of high profile franchises (Avatar, X-Men) and specialty titles from Fox Searchlight. She also managed the domestic TV DVD group during the heyday of 24, The Simpsons, and Family Guy.
Before transitioning into entertainment, Jyoti was a successful advertising executive at agencies like Ogilvy & Mather, JWT and MZA working with clients such as Kraft, Dole, and Mattel. Jyoti resides in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter. Having received her Bachelor’s from USC and EMBA from UCLA-Anderson, she’s both a Bruin & Trojan and won’t entertain requests to choose a favorite.