Wavelength Sets 2024 WAVE Grant Recipients

EXCLUSIVE: Wavelength has revealed the 2024 recipients of its WAVE Grant. Ayesha Agarwal, Sharona D’Ornellas, Alaysia Renay Duncan, Amy B Tiong and Brittany Young each will receive $5,000 to create their first short film alongside production mentorship from Wavelength’s executive team. Read a bio for each recipient below.

The WAVE Grant, which stands for “Women at the Very Edge,” aims to help a female or non-binary first-time filmmaker of color with the production of their first short film (under 10 minutes). In addition to the grant, Wavelength — the production company behind such films as 32 Sounds and Athlete — provides mentorship in the producing, development and post-production of the filmmaker’s story as well as fundraising and distribution strategy.

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“Human stories drive everything we do, and this year’s WAVE Grant class is an exceptional embodiment of that principle,” said Jenifer Westphal, Wavelength’s founder, CEO and executive producer. “It’s inspiring to see the talent and diversity represented in this year’s cohort, and we are proud to support these women in bringing their stories to life.”

Here are the bios for the 2024 WAVE Grant class:

Ayesha Agarwal is a filmmaker, affordable housing developer and first-generation American based in Los Angeles. Born in Oregon, raised in Singapore and ethnically Indian, Ayesha draws on this multicultural perspective to nuance the way we internalize the human experience. Her work explores universal themes governing society, such as sexuality, mortality, power, and progress, from the lenses of immigration and globalization. Her short film, Coconut Girlfollows Swetha, the 7-year-old child of South Indian immigrants, who struggles to reconcile her Asian heritage, specifically the custom of oiling her hair, with prevailing cultural norms around her, creating a rift between her and her beloved mother.

Originally from Toronto, LA-based Sharona D’Ornellas is a writer, comedian, actor, and dancer. She is a mixed-race woman of Caribbean descent and a first-generation Canadian turned American immigrant. In her career as a performer, Sharona has worked on Broadway in the Tony Award-winning In The Heights and on TV/Film for prestigious projects including Schmigadoon, and the Kennedy Center Honors. Sharona believes that storytelling illuminates the humanity within us all and the power to see a piece of ourselves in another person’s story remains her inspiration as an artist. Her film, Keep My Brotherfollows a woman named Ava as she fights to maintain her own family, career and health while safeguarding her younger brother, Darryl, during his prolonged manic episode.

Alaysia Renay Duncan is a Brooklyn-based actress, writer, director, and producer from Saint Paul, Minnesota. With a BFA in Acting from Ithaca College, she can be found working as a creative producer for Black Girls Don’t Get Love, submitting endless self-tapes, or developing her various screenplay ideas. Alaysia hopes to create stories that expand the realm of representation for Black girls and women in the media. Her film, Abstractfollowspassionate young painter, Kae Beaumont, who struggles to live up to her father’s strict artistic expectations, even after his death, when she’s tasked with honoring him through a gallery exhibit.

Amy B Tiong is a filmmaker, advocate, and Gates Millennium and NYU Tisch Dean’s Scholar. As a BIPOC woman with a disability, Amy uses film to examine intersectionalities. She has produced and directed documentary shorts with the NAACP and Picturestart. Her co-directed short, Take Care Zora, was made in partnership with GFS and Dolby and premiered at AMC Lincoln Center. In 2023, her feature script, When You’re Ready To Go, was a WeScreenplay, ScreenCraft, and StoweStoryLabs finalist. She is currently a Production Coordinator at Vice Media across their branded, news, and digital teams. Her film, Deliveryfollows 7-year-old Maya accompanying her father at work on one of his usual Chinese fast-food delivery runs. However, this time she worries her father might be in danger.

Brittany Young is a Florida-born filmmaker based in LA whose mission is to make coming-of-age films following black, queer protagonists through a lens that diverges from traumatic plot expectations. She enjoys writing complex stories with comedic undertones. Following her career playing Division 1 lacrosse at the University of Delaware, she earned her MFA at Florida State University’s College of Motion Picture Arts, where she was honored with the program’s coveted Strickland Pathfinder Award. Her student films have screened at numerous festivals including the National Film Festival for Talented Youth, where she earned the Kathy Reichardt Inspiration Award. Her film, Munchies follows a group of stoned college girls with a complicated dynamic who are caught in the middle of a botched convenience store robbery, forcing them to squash their giggles to make it out alive.

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