The LearningTimes Foundation Emerging Filmmakers Grant Panel

Cherline Bazile is a Haitian American writer from Florida. She graduated from Harvard University and received her MFA in Fiction from the University of Michigan. Her fiction has been featured in NPR, The Sewanee Review, Symphony Space, and the Best American Short Stories 2023. Cherline has received fellowships from the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Mass Cultural Council, among others. She lives in Philadelphia. 

Fredi Bernstein (she/her) is an actor/writer/creator based in NYC. TV: Fleishman is in Trouble, Monsterland (Hulu), The Watcher (Netflix), Love Life, The Other Two (HBO Max), American Horror Story (FX). Film: Annunciation, A Morning in March. Theater: Adaptive Radiation (Denizen Theater Co.), The Merchant of Venice (PICT), The Hard Problem (Quantum Theater Co.), and a sold out show at Joe’s Pub as Patrina in Birthday Sax. Recently recorded a lead role on the album for the original musical, I AM, the new Radio Play, Crackin’ Fox, and the Tetra Stories scripted podcast The Box playing AICS. She is currently working with Pollywog Films to find a home for her original TV series, C U Next Tuesday, based on her own reproductive issues and her love of puppets. Fredi strives to make work that will help people feel less alone.

Sarah Lynn Brown (she/hers) has worked as a director, adaptor, educator, and actor for the past two decades. She is a freelance facilitator of Playwriting, Classic Adaptation, Gender Performance, and Creative Mindfulness workshops. Sarah Lynn currently serves as a script adaptor/writer for both Edison Creative and Creighton University. Additionally, Sarah Lynn has worked for Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, Utah Shakespeare, Folger Library Theatre, Denizen Theatre (NY), Opera Omaha, and Nebraska Shakespeare. She has a Masters of Arts in Theatre Education from the University of Northern Colorado and is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health. Sarah has trained with TIE (Theatre Intimacy Education) and is passionate about instilling artist agency into all creative rooms.

Kalee Burrows (she/her/hers) is a queer theatre artist, writer, and educator in Boston, MA.  She teaches and works with young people and adults in schools, studios, and theatre spaces across the globe. These participating organizations include The Boston Conservatory at Berklee, The Huntington Theatre, Boston Lyric Opera, SpeakEasy Stage Company, The Hanover Theatre & Conservatory, Boston Center for the Arts, Little Theatre of Fall River, Company One, Flat Earth Theatre, Actors’ Shakespeare Project, and The New Art Center. Officially recognized as a Certified Artist by the City of Boston, Kalee is a skilled practitioner in devised theatre and arts education. Kalee holds a MA in Applied Theatre: Drama in Educational, Community and Social Contexts from Goldsmiths, University of London, as well as a BA in Theatre Arts and Performance Studies from Stonehill College. For more information about Kalee, visit

Mark Kaplan has been a graphic artist for nearly 5 decades. For over 25 years, he taught airbrush, then Photoshop at the School of Visual Arts and later at Parsons School of Design, part of the New School in New York City.  He became a filmmaker during the last presidency after becoming inspired to take on the rising threat of hate and fascism that was Trump and Trumpism, first by using his Photoshop expertise, and then later by creating short videos using After Effects. He built a following on Instagram of nearly 14,000 individuals, until his account was deleted without explanation, or the ability to appeal. He wound up making a multi-award-winning feature documentary about that journey. He continues to post his new work daily at

Karoline is an actor and writer who goes by a mononym. They are best known for playing Eleanor Chun in the Hulu original series Death and Other Details. Theater credits include Tom Stoppard’s The Hard Problem at Lincoln Center Theater, [Veil Widow Conspiracy] at NYTW, and the lead in Exclusion at Arena Stage. They are currently developing their first feature. 

­­Nia Lourekas is a former educator, actor, and writer, living in New York City.  She first made her living as a high school English teacher, with a Masters in Teaching English in Secondary Education.  Nia acted in regional theaters, summer stock and off-Broadway. She taught computer software programs in large international law firms for more than 25 years.  Nia had staged readings of her one act plays at Ensemble Studio Theatre and The Woodstock Fringe Festival of Theatre and Song.  She is currently working on rewriting the first draft of a murder mystery.

Lane Michael Stanley is a transgender writer and filmmaker. Their award-winning debut feature film ADDICT NAMED HAL played at festivals including Austin Film Festival, Santa Barbara International Film Festival, and Dances with Films, and is now available on Amazon, iTunes, and other VOD platforms through the distributor Freestyle Digital Media. Their award-winning short films have played at Outfest, Sidewalk Film Festival, Toronto Short Film Festival, Seattle Queer Film Festival, Oxford Film Festival, Dance Camera West, American Dance Festival, and more, and their plays have been produced and developed by 19 theaters in 8 states and Australia. They have been a commissioned artist and/or fellow with Lambda Literary, Tin House,

Ground Floor Theatre, and Art with Impact; won awards from the Film Fund, Baltimore City Paper, and Creative Baltimore Fund; received film grants from the Queen Anne’s County Cultural Arts Division, Maryland State Arts Council, and Austin Cultural Arts Division; and hold an MFA in Directing from the University of Texas at Austin. Lane is currently the Resident Artist with coLAB Arts and Mission First Housing Group, where they are creating art directly with residents of two permanent supportive housing developments in Edison, NJ as they recover from houselessness. For more information, please visit and

Jason Trucco is an experimental artist and director based in New York. Jason has recently directed plays including Hi-Fi / Wi-Fi / Sci-Fi at La MaMa ETC, Richard III And They’ve Never Heard Of Love at Barcelona’s Festival Grec, and Elegy For An Underground Playwright at Lungs Festival. He’s directed music videos with Billy Idol, Devo, Glen Campbell, and Queens Of The Stone Age. Recent cinema and broadcast includes Erased by Colleen MacPherson and Especial. Jason shows visual arts and video in gallery shows such as EXHIBIT A: New Works By Jason Trucco at AWLA; JASON TRUCCO A4 at Angell Gallery in Toronto; Con text, an artistic paradox at Cozmos NYC. In all his projects, Trucco combines whimsy, artistic panache, and a deep love and curiosity to the most intractable and muddy problems that confront individuals in relationships. 

Shanelle Chloe Villegas is a Queer, Non-binary, Boston-based theatre artist and teacher who is dedicated to being a student and lover of humanity. This pursuit, to love and question human beings in the midst of all our complexities, leads her to be intensely expressive in multiple disciplines of art such as, poetic and dramatic writing, acting, visual arts and music-making, with the aim of using art as a portal to connect humankind at the heart-level. She is a Playwright in Residence at the Boston Center for the Arts and was named one of WBUR’s 15 BIPOC Makers in Massachusetts. When she is not creating her own work, Shanelle can be seen performing all around Boston. Shanelle is a proud graduate of the first graduating class of Boston Conservatory at Berklee’s BFA Contemporary Theatre program.