In partnership with the Sundance Institute’s Women at Sundance program, Netflix, Shondaland, and GloNation three Latina directors participated in the inaugural Adelante Directors Fellowship, a groundbreaking program that supports up-and-coming directors’ professional development, creating a pipeline to uplift independent filmmakers as they grow in their careers and learn more about directing on a series.

The program helped guide the three fellowship recipients, who had the opportunity to shadow an episode of a series. They were provided a grant to help support them during the duration of the six-week period while shadowing and bespoke support from The Latinx House.

The Latina directors chosen for this year’s Adelante Directors Fellowship are Cecilia Aldarondo, an award-winning director-producer from the Puerto Rican diaspora who works at the intersection of poetics and politics; Yulene Olaizola, a prolific film director originally from Mexico (her most recent film, “Tragic Jungle,” premiered in competition at the Venice Film Festival 2020); and Nicole Mejia, born in Honduras and a recent graduate of the American Film Institute Directing program who creates stories about the resilience of the human spirit through drama, thriller, and magical realism.

Inaugural Adelante Directors Fellows

Cecilia Aldarondo

Cecilia Aldarondo is a director-producer from the Puerto Rican diaspora who works at the intersection of poetics and politics. Her feature documentaries MEMORIES OF A PENITENT HEART (2016) and LANDFALL (2020) premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and were co-produced by the award-winning PBS series POV. LANDFALL’s many awards include the 2020 DOC NYC Film Festival Viewfinders Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary, as well as Cinema Eye and Film Independent Spirit Award nominations. Currently, she is directing her third feature, a co-production with HBO. Among Aldarondo’s fellowships and honors are the 2022 IDA Emerging Filmmaker Award, the Guggenheim, a two-time MacDowell Colony Fellowship, the 2021 New America Fellowship, and Women at Sundance 2017. In 2019, she was named to DOC NYC’s 40 Under 40 list and is one of 2015’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film. She teaches at Williams College.

Nicole Mejia

Nicole Mejia is a Los Angeles-based director, writer, and producer. Her first feature, A PLACE IN THE FIELD, premiered at the 2022 Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Nicole’s short film, MANCHA, was awarded the LALIFF/NETFLIX Fellowship and premiered at the festival in June 2022. Her AFI thesis film MY LIFE STOPPED AT 15, based on her personal story of healing from sexual abuse, won the ASC Heritage Award. Originally from Honduras, she is the first in her family to hold a BFA in Theater from Cornish College of the Arts as well as an MFA in Directing from The American Film Institute, where she was awarded the Audi Fellowship for Women.

Yulene Olaizola

With five feature films, Yulene Olaizola is one of the most prolific female directors from Latin America. Her debut film “Shakespeare & Victor Hugo’s Intimacies” received more than 30 awards. Her films have been presented at the most important film festivals such as Cannes, Venice, Toronto, and San Sebastian. Her movies are known for being daring cinematic proposals that usually mix documentary and fiction, leading the audience to go deep into remote and extreme geographies. Her most recent production is “Tragic Jungle,” a thriller set in the early 20s in the Mayan jungle and a film that combines a variety of cinematic genres. It was launched as Netflix Originals, in 190 countries, in 2021.

Olga Segura, Adelante Fellowship Creator and Director

“It’s essential that the industry dedicates the resources needed to develop a strong pipeline of Latina and non-binary Latinx directors. We are so excited to be working with Women at Sundance, Netflix, and Shondaland and GloNation allies who can help us build opportunities for talented creators. We believe it is critical to be working with like-minded partners in Hollywood to accelerate change in the industry. We hope that this Fellowship is just the beginning and will inspire even more studios and companies to open doors for Latinx directors.”

Our Partners

Adella Ladjevardi, Associate Director, Women at Sundance. 

“We’re thrilled to be collaborating with The Latinx House, Netflix, Shondaland and Glonation on the inaugural year of the Adelante Directors Fellowship. Women at Sundance continues to support filmmakers from underrepresented communities and recognize the impact that can be made by working together with our partners to build a more inclusive community of creators. Providing a shadowing opportunity is one of many ways we hope to increase access and exposure for Latina and non-binary Latinx directors.”

Bela Bajaria, Head of Global TV, Netflix.

“We know that great representation on screen begins with who’s behind the camera. We’re honored to be a part of this incredible coalition to help support Latina and non-binary Latinx directors who are looking for a pathway into television.”

Tom Verica, Shondaland’s Head of Creative Production.

“Shondaland is committed to finding ways to ensure equal representation both in front of and behind the camera. We are incredibly excited to partner with The Latinx House and the Sundance Institute’s Women at Sundance to establish this wonderful program that will mentor and nurture Latina and non-binary directors.”

 Gloria Calderón Kellett, award-winning showrunner, producer, writer, director and actress. 

“I am so proud of the work my sisters at The Latinx House have been spearheading,” It is in line with the mission of my production company, GloNation Studios, and I’m thrilled that we will have a deserving Latina director on our ‘With Love’ stage this year ready to thrive and grow.”