Akiva Penaloza is an award-winning, multi-genre televisión and film screenwriter, director and producer from New York City. She attended the prestigious AFI and flourished under the tutelage of Oscar Nominee Anna Thomas (“Frida,” “El Norte,”) and was recognized by Oscar Winner Diane Keaton with a $10,000 scholarship.
Her directorial debut, “La Chiva,” a Mexican-themed film about a girl living in poverty, earned Best Short honors at the Long Island International Film Festival in Southampton, the New York International Latino Film Festival and the Miami International Film Festival. Championed by Rodrigo Garcia, it premiered nationally on Channel 13’s “Reel 13” program and went on to be screened at film festivals around the world -- including in Mexico.
Other distinctions include Best Screenplay honors by Script Pipeline for her co-written Western, “Brazen,” an Urban Artist Initiative/New York City Fellowship and acceptance into the renowned Tribeca Film Festival. Her feature romantic comedy, “The Virgin Heart,” a lesbian "Annie Hall,” also swept Newfest Film Festivals’ Screenwriting honors and was deemed “a charming New York story,” by Sony Pictures Classics.
Akiva's creative portfolio of all original scripts includes romantic comedies, romantic dramas, westerns, sci-fi, epics, historical, mythological adventure, satires, thrillers, crime features and/or one-hour TV/Cable series. Akiva teaches the art and craft of screenwriting to private students in New York City (including to NYU students whose graduate film program does not cut the mustard on teaching screenwriting - shh!) Teaching is, indeed, her second calling.
Maya Angelou said, “If you learned — teach. If you received — give.” Akiva's
life’s work, then, is to fund a free program to teach, empower and inspire women of color from all social classes to master the art and craft of visual storytelling. Akiva is compelled to give voice to the voiceless and to give rise to the next generation of female storytellers so that no woman's story will ever again be overlooked, ignored or deemed incapable of driving home the bottom-line.