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BAFTA New York Announces First Recipient of Woman of Her Word Disabilities Scholarship

19 December 2016
BAFTA/Marc Hoberman

The new BAFTA Scholarship is specifically reserved for a student with a disability, awarded through the support of Michele Spitz of Woman of Her Word.

New York, 19 December 2016:  The British Academy of Film and Television Arts New York (BAFTA New York) has announced today the first ever recipient of its new Woman of Her Word Disabilities Scholarship. Granted through the generous support of lifelong patron of the arts Michele Spitz of Woman of Her Word, this is the first time that BAFTA has awarded a scholarship specifically reserved for a student with a disability. 

Shannon Ryan has been awarded a $5,000 BAFTA New York Woman of Her Word Disabilities Scholarship to continue her studies at the Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema at Brooklyn College. Shannon, a first year MFA student in the Feirstein School is specializing in producing.  

BAFTA's Scholarships Program awards students in need of financial assistance funding for post-graduate course related to a career in film, television or games, offering a range of global scholarships annually, with programmes in the UK, USA and China. In addition to support for course fees and living expenses, recipients receive free access to BAFTA events and a mentor from the industry. To find out more about BAFTA’s global scholarship programme, visit:

The BAFTA New York Scholarships Program launched in the fall of 2012 with four scholarships for undergraduates enrolled in the Film & Media Studies Department of Hunter College. Over the past four years the program has grown to include MFA students at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, MFA students at Brooklyn College’s Department of TV and Radio and Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema as well as MFA students in the Film Department of City College of New York. This year BAFTA New York awarded eight scholarships to graduate media studies students, with concentrations in TV and film. For more information, visit

With the BAFTA New York Woman of Her Word Disabilities Scholarship, BAFTA New York hopes to broaden its goal of providing access and opportunities to underserved communities in the New York area, specifically offering support to talented students with disabilities.

Michele Spitz of Woman of Her Word said: “I am most honored to provide this scholarship to a very talented and deserving graduate student, such as Shannon Ryan. It's very apparent that Shannon will appropriately integrate her life experience and artistry into her media endeavors that will inevitably impact many people. Given my passion for audio describing film for blind and low vision audiences, I greatly support accessible media to all. This scholarship is in perfect alignment with my heartfelt advocacy to bring us together in pursuit of sharing true life experiences amongst all communities.”

Luke Parker Bowles, Chairman of BAFTA New York said: “It is no exaggeration to say that of the many opportunities provided by BAFTA New York, the scholarship program has always been a shining star. The passion and determination that the Scholarship Outreach team brings to what they do is palpable and the fact that they have now managed to broaden this program even further is incredibly exciting for the future of BAFTA New York.”

Linda Kahn, BAFTA New York Board of Directors and Outreach Committee Chair said: "In today's world, barriers are slowly disappearing from every sector of the population so a diversity of voices is increasingly being heard and multiple viewpoints are represented. While BAFTA New York has always sought to support a diverse group of scholars, to date we have not targeted the community of students with disabilities.  This scholarship from Woman of Her Word is another step in our commitment to helping bring the experience of filmmaking and television production to students of all backgrounds.”

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For further information:
Julie La’Bassiere Chief Executive at BAFTA New York
T 212 235 2088
E [email protected]

About BAFTA and BAFTA New York 
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts is an independent charity based in London with branches in the UK, Los Angeles and New York that supports, develops and promotes the art forms of the moving image by identifying and rewarding excellence, inspiring practitioners and benefiting the public.  To access the best creative minds in film, TV and games production, visit For more, visit 

BAFTA New York, founded in 1996, recognizes and promotes the achievements of British film and television in New York and all along the East Coast. It hosts an extensive roster of feature film, television and documentary screenings, panel discussions, premieres and co-produced events with other established organizations in the film and television industry, and runs an educational outreach program aimed at underserved youth in New York City that includes the BAFTA New York Media Studies Scholarship Program. It is also committed to looking ahead, exploring the intersection of entertainment and technology while ensuring its programming and partnerships serve its audiences, its members and the public. BAFTA New York is a 501(c)3 Non-Profit Corporation and relies on income from membership subscriptions, individual donations, trusts, foundations and corporate partnerships to support its ongoing work.

About Woman of Her Word
Professional voiceover artist and lifelong patron of the arts, Michele Spitz, is dedicated to making the world infinitely accessible to people with disabilities and various other communities by providing her vocal talents to filmmakers, publishers, speaking venues and charitable organizations. Michele's endeavors are ongoing and endless in the pursuit for inclusion in the arts. Her presence is an inclusive and uniting force which brings equality of experience to all that she touches .

About Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema - Brooklyn College
The Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema, which opened in 2015 in a brand new, purpose-built facility at Steiner Studio at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, offers a three-year Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Cinema Arts and a two-year Master of Arts (MA) in Cinema Studies. It is the first public graduate school of cinema in New York City and the only film school in the country built on a working film lot. Recognizing the importance of expanding diversity in the $9 billion New York entertainment industry, the Feirstein School currently has 170 students enrolled, of which 50% are women and 45% are from underrepresented groups. Feirstein offers specialized programs in: Screenwriting, Directing, Producing, Cinematography, Post Production, Media Scoring, Sonic Arts, Cinema Studies, and recently announced the addition of a program in Digital Animation & Visual Effects starting next fall. The school is committed to cultivating diverse new voices in cinema and providing students a pipeline to the industry. Another 130 students are expected to enrol in fall 2017 with the first class graduating in 2018. Learn more at: