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CAPE, the Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment, has selected its 2023 class of creative executives for the seventh annual CAPE Leaders Fellowship, the organization announced Tuesday. It’s a program that equips rising Asian and Pacific Islander senior creative executives in Hollywood with the skills and professional network to break into the VP ranks and beyond.
The class is being celebrated as a joint graduation and fundraiser event in Los Angeles on Tuesdayhonoring both the 2023 CAPE New Writers Fellowship and CAPE Leaders Fellowship classes.
“I am passionate about finding ways to amplify underrepresented voices, “ said VP Albert Cheng, Prime Video U.S. head and the program’s co-chair. “CAPE’s investment in the next generation of API creative executives ensures they have the tools they need to advance in their careers and continue to develop authentic Asian and Pacific Islander stories.”
The fellowship is co-chaired by CAPE Board Members Albert Cheng (VP, head of Prime Video – U.S.), Naia Cucukov (cofounder, Working Barn Entertainment) and Peter McHugh (partner and manager, the Gotham Group). The 2023 CAPE Leaders Fellowship is supported by Netflix, Paramount+, East West Bank and L.A. County Arts and Culture.
“CAPE has long viewed creative executives as the one of the most critical yet overlooked components of the narrative change ecosystem, as they hold the power to greenlight authentic and diverse Asian and Pacific Islander narratives,” said Michelle K. Sugihara, CAPE executive director.
“In our recent study with The Asian American Foundation surveying Asian creative executives, lack of connections and mentorship were identified as the most common barriers to advancement,” Sugihara said. “The CAPE Leaders Fellowship strengthens the networks of API creative executives across all levels in order to advance representation in the executive ranks and drive systemic change in Hollywood.”
The program has seen more than 40 promotions since its start in 2017. The 2023 CAPE Leaders Fellowship class joins a distinguished alumni network that includes Nikitha Menon (VP, Destin Daniel Cretton’s Family Owned Entertainment), Rebecca Cho (SVP, film development & production, Ryan Coogler’s Proximity Media), Jon Wu (producer and head of filmed content, The Green Room), Emily Furutani (VP, comedy development, Hulu), Kenny Tsai (SVP, current programming, UCP), Grant Torre (VP, film development and production, Stampede), Janice Lee (VP, film development and production, Fifth Season) and more.
The CAPE Leaders Fellowship is one of CAPE’s talent development programs alongside the CAPE New Writers Fellowship, the CAPE Animation Directors Accelerator, the CAPE Emerging Executives Committee and the Julia S. Gouw Short Film Challenge for Women & Non-Binary Filmmakers (with Janet Yang Productions).
The 2023 CAPE Leaders Fellowship Class includes:
Ashley Mathew (Manager, Sri & Company)
Ashley Mathew is a Manager at Sri & Company, a production company founded by Sri Rao with a focus on South Asian storytelling. As an executive, she and their team have developed and sold a variety of scripted and unscripted television projects. Prior to Sri & Company, she worked in film and television development at Hillman Grad Productions. She received her B.A. in Journalism from Loyola University Chicago and her M.F.A. in Screenwriting from Boston University.
Liana Oja (Director, Streaming & Animation Ops Marvel Studios)
Liana Oja is the Director of Streaming & Animation Operations at Marvel Studios. She has worked in facets of programming, development, production, post, distribution, and overall strategy for television starting with the company’s first aired show, WandaVision. Her goal is to bring more influential, diverse, and fun stories to the small screens (while staying on budget). She graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering.
Michelle Truong (Manager, Original Animated Series, Warner Bros. Discovery)
Michelle Truong is a Vietnamese-American creative executive, with a fiery passion for storytelling and animation. She is currently the Manager of Original Animated Series at Warner Bros. Discovery, and serves as an executive on a number of original series in the Kids & Family/Young Adult space, including ADVENTURE TIME: FIONNA & CAKE, CRAIG OF THE CREEK, and INVINCIBLE FIGHT GIRL. She also oversees development and commissioning for Cartoon Network.
Phuong Thai (Director, Creative Content – TV & Film, Shondaland)
Phuong Thai is Director, Creative Content in TV and Film at Shondaland, the pioneering storytelling company founded by Shonda Rhimes and producing partner Betsy Beers. In this role, Phuong is responsible for developing and creatively supporting projects on Shondaland’s slate, and has worked on projects including BRIDGERTON and THE RESIDENCE for Netflix. Phuong was born in Vietnam and raised in Los Angeles.
Shuyu Cao (Manager, Extracurricular)
Shuyu Cao currently serves as Manager at Extracurricular Productions, a production company founded by Malala Yousafzai that aims to tell stories about women of color and people from marginalized communities that define them by their iconic personalities rather than by their trauma. She and her team develop and produce scripted and non-scripted film and television projects for an international audience, all run through their overall deal at Apple TV.
Soham Joglekar (Manager, Books & IP, Netflix)
Soham Joglekar is a Manager at Netflix, where he and his team identify and acquire books & various IP for adaptation purposes globally, across film and television. He works hand-in-hand with Netflix content teams and producer deals around the world to help curate material for their specific slates.
Tara Joshi (Manager, Comedy and Drama Development, Lionsgate Television)
Tara Joshi is a manager of development at Lionsgate Television, which focuses on left-of-center content that spans a variety of tones and genres. Prior to Lionsgate, Tara was a CE at Sutton Street Productions, a production company with CBSTV. Tara graduated from Dartmouth College with a BA in Geography and Spanish. She loves uncovering new perspectives and hopes the next generation has access to shows that represent their upbringings and backgrounds.
Trisha Kaleo’onālani Tamashiro Gray (Manager, Current Series, Disney Junior, The Walt Disney Company)
Trisha Kaleo’onālani Tamashiro Gray is a Manager of Current Series at Disney Junior, where she oversees writing and production for several large franchises, including Mickey Mouse Funhouse and Firebuds. Previously, Trisha was a manager in Disney Junior’s Educational Resource Group, where she championed social-emotional learning themes and diversity in storytelling, and more recently at Netflix as a Kids and Family Content Analyst, creating tools for more inclusive and representative collections on the service.