Screening will be followed by a conversation with film subjects Shawnee Benton Gibson and Omari Maynard moderated by PBS Newshour’s Nicole Ellis.
Following the preventable deaths of their loved ones due to childbirth complications, two families galvanize activists, birth-workers and physicians to reckon with one of the most pressing American crises of our time – the US maternal health crisis.
Produced by Paula Eiselt and Tonya Lewis Lee. Executive Produced by Dawn Porter, Jenny Raskin, Geralyn White Dreyfous, Davis Guggenheim, Rahdi Taylor, Tegan Acton, Emma Pompetti, Janet Tittiger, Patti Quillin, and Jennifer and Jonathan Allan Soros.
Courtesy of Disney’s Onyx Collective.
Tonya Lewis Lee
Tonya Lewis Lee is a director, producer, writer whose work often explores the personal impact of social justice issues. As a television producer, Tonya served as Executive Producer on the episodic series SHE’S GOTTA HAVE IT which is currently streaming on Netflix. As a film producer, Lee produced MONSTER which premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and is now available on Netflix. Most recently Lee co-directed and co-produced AFTERSHOCK which premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, which examines the U.S. maternal mortality crisis winning the Special Jury Award for Impact for Change and was acquired by Onyx and ABC News to stream on Hulu. IndieWire named Tonya as one of 22 rising female filmmakers to watch in 2022.
Shawnee Benton Gibson
Shawnee Benton Gibson is the CEO of Spirit of A Woman (S.O.W.) Leadership Development Institute, an organization established in 2002 and designed to educate, elevate and effect positive and sustainable transformation in the lives of individuals, groups, families and communities. Under Shawnee’s leadership and vision, S.O.W. offers innovative coaching, counseling, workshop and training experiences to individuals, groups and organizations seeking to expand their power, purpose and impact in the world. Ms. Benton Gibson is a graduate of New York University’s Silver School of Social Work and is a licensed practitioner with over 28 years of professional experience in the areas of substance abuse prevention, treatment and recovery, adolescent development, individual, family and group counseling, women’s health, birth equity, social justice, grief, loss, bereavement and trauma. Shawnee is a master teacher, trainer, healer, vision coach, performance artist, inspirational speaker, officiant, mother and friend. Her principal teaching and healing tools consist of spiritual counseling, coaching, writing, sacred rituals, psychodrama, sociometry, energy work, the performing arts and storytelling as mediums to ignite transformation and initiate catharsis.
Omari Maynard is an educator by trade and an artist by craft. He has received his bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Hampton University, an MBA and a Masters in Sport Business Management from the University of Central Florida, and a Masters degree in Special Education from Long Island University. With these degrees, he has worked for the NBA, for sports marketing companies, not for profit organizations, and the Department of Education.
As a child, he watched his uncle, Leo Carty, a highly accomplished artist, and Fulton Art Fair alumni, create beautiful masterpieces. He dabbled in exploring his artistry at an early age but did not pursue his artistic talents until he graduated from college. In 2016, Omari and his life partner, Shamony Gibson, started their own business. Art-fulliving is a lifestyle and event planning business with an emphasis on artistic expression. Unfortunately, Shamony transitioned in October 2019, due to complications after giving birth to their second child. Her untimely passing has provided Omari with a drive to live his life as creatively and purposefully as possible.
Today he draws his creative inspiration from his family, life experiences, cultural influences, and his environment. His use of color, dimension, and texture exhibits true, raw, and natural talent. The evolution of artistry is evident in his work. His pieces tell stories that are thought provoking, intellectually inspiring, and technically sound.
Nicole Ellis is PBS NewsHour’s digital anchor where she hosts pre- and post-shows and breaking news live streams on digital platforms and serves as a correspondent for the nightly broadcast. Ellis joined the NewsHour from The Washington Post, where she was an Emmy nominated on-air reporter and anchor covering social issues and breaking news. In this role, she hosted, produced, and directed original documentaries and breaking news videos for The Post’s website, YouTube, Amazon Prime, Facebook and Twitch, earning a National Outstanding Breaking News Emmy Nomination for her coverage of Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Ellis created and hosted The Post’s first original documentary series, “Should I freeze my eggs?,” in which she explores her own fertility and received the 2019 Digiday Publishers Award. She also created and hosted the Webby Award-winning news literacy series “The New Normal,” the most viewed video series in the history of The Washington Post’s women’s vertical, The Lily.
She is the author of “We Go High,” a non-fiction self-help-by-proxy book on overcoming adversity publishing in 2022, and host of Critical Conversations on BookClub, an author-led book club platform.
Prior to that, Ellis was a part of the production team for the Peabody and Emmy Award-winning series, CNN Heroes. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and Human Rights from Columbia University, as well as a Master’s in Journalism from Columbia Journalism School.