NYC Web Fest Announces 2017 Jury

The 4th Annual NYC Web Fest (NYCWF) has announced its Jury members today – a diverse group of entertainers and producers from film, television, stage and the digital space. They’ve also revealed a new programming department, with Program Director Austen Jaye and Programming Consultant Liz Spaulding, a former marketing director for Tribeca Film. The festival will take place November 9th-11th in Manhattan, location to be determined.

NYCWF is open for submissions following its biggest edition yet, and have added a pilot competition this year, for first episodes of new web series’. More creators than ever before attended in 2016, guests came in from as far away as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and all across the United States. Backstage Magazine named them ‘One of Six Great New Media Festivals,’ and new streaming service Seeka TV signed 12 shows directly from the festival.

“The NYC Web Fest was a great venue for someone like me to interact with the best filmmakers in the web series world.” Said George Reese, Seeka’s Vice-President of Programming.

Other 2016 highlights included the premiere of India’s first same-sex series The Other Love Story and the introduction of the Audience Choice Award. That was won by Haunted or Hoax, starring Natasha Negovanlis. Multi-nominee Situationships has since been signed signed a distribution deal with media company Blavity.

NYCWF also hosted the world premiere of Best Drama winner Trap Plane from Houston Texas.  “When Trap Plane became an official selection for 2016 NYC Web Fest, I was excited to premiere in the Big Apple. When our name was called for Best Drama it was incredible!  After being at the festival, and feeling the energy I really wanted the award.”  Said writer/director Juan C Vazquez.

Another new member of the team is Sarah Grieco, Director of Sales and Marketing, who has managed multiple events in NYC for the past 5 years. With NYCWF growing so quickly, the goal is to integrate more brands into the event.  

Submissions are open until August 14th - already entries have increased by 65% from this time last year. For more information see www.nycwebfest.com More information on this year's jurors can also be found below.


Natasha S. Alford is a journalist, host, producer and writer.  Her work covers a wide range of issues relating to politics, race, gender, education, as well as entertainment and pop culture.  Natasha is Deputy Editor of theGrio.com and hosts the original web series True Story with Natasha Alford.  She has also been a contributor to Salon.com, Sirius XM’s Sway In the Morning, WDKX and WBEZ radio.  She is a winner of the CBS Meredith-Cronkite Fellowship and a member of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), as well as the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ). Natasha was recently awarded the 2017 Rising Leader Award at the 20th Annual Harvard Women’s Leadership Awards.  She resides in New York City.

Ashley C. Ford lives in Brooklyn NY by way of Indiana. She is (mostly) a writer, editor, and public speaker. She is currently writing a memoir, and working as a senior features writer at Refinery29.  Ford has written or guest-edited for The Guardian, ELLE, BuzzFeed, Slate, Teen Vogue, I-D, Lenny Letter, and various other web and print publications. She's spoken at SXSW, Earlham College, Hippocamp Nonfiction Writing Conference, and various other events and universities. She also taught writing at The New School and Catapult.Co.  Ford previously worked as a development executive for Matter Studios, where she focused on web series and documentaries, and was also the host of the first season of Audible.Com's interview series, Authorized. She has been named among Forbes Magazine's 2017 30 Under 30 in Media, and Brooklyn Magazine's 2016 Brooklyn 100.

Austen Jaye is a native Californian, Austen grew up in Los Angeles and attended Mira Costa High School. While studying sign language at El Camino College, he took an acting class and immediately realized his true passion for the arts. Studying at the Stellar Adler Theatre and later, The Beverly Hills Playhouse, Austen refocused his drive of becoming a professional actor. Theatre credits include the Solo Show BELAFONTE UNAUTHORIZED: A SHARED HUMANITY, the West Coast premier of THE GOOD NEGRO and BLACK WOMEN STATE OF THE UNION. Television credits include The Bold and the Beautiful (CBS), Back in the Game(ABC), Angie Tribeca (TBS), Roomie Lover Friends (BET) and Hello Cupid (BET).

Neil Mossberg initially started his career in the fashion world as an assistant buyer with The Doneger Group.  A leading analyst of global trends and merchandising strategies for the retail and fashion industry, he became a men’s buyer for the Urban Outfitters Group. Neil left Urban Outfitters to become Creative Director of the national retailer County Seat, where he successfully managed all brand acquisition, product planning and marketing for County Seat’s 600 stores nationwide generating sales in excess of $500 million.  Neil has worked with NBC and the Bravo Network on products for reality TV shows, partnered with Mead Johnson Bristol Myers and Served as fashion editor for Urban Latino magazine.  Today Neil is a partner in a portfolio of brands and companies such as World Marketing, FRANK151, Steve Harvey Collection, colossal brands  and more .  Neil also sits on the board of advisory board exClone.

Drew Phillips is a transgender genre filmmaker and graphic designer from Indiana whose films Beautiful and Digital Syntax have garnered international acclaim. She currently works in the graphics department at REVRY, the only global LGBTQ+ streaming platform.

Sherrod Small started performing stand up at New York’s Comic Strip Live in 1998.  Six months later, he was performing at the Comedy Cellar as well.  Sherrod was a regular on VH1's The Best Week Ever and serves as a guest, occasional ombudsman, and stand-in host of Fox News's late-night satire program Red Eye w/ Greg Gutfeld.  He has appeared onTough Crowd, Premium Blend, and The Chris Rock Show.  He can also be seen with John Mayer on the parody cover of Tay Zonday's "Chocolate Rain" and on the G4's International Sexy Ladies.

From 2012 to 2014, Sherrod was an infrequent guest on the Opie and Anthony radio show and took a more regular role on its successor, Opie with Jim Norton.  For the past 5 years he’s hosted the RaceWars Podcast with Kurt Metzger.  Guests have included Tracy Morgan, Colin Quinn, Ann Coulter, Tony Rock, and more.  In 2016, he won the Special Guest Star award at NYC Web Fest for his work on the series Long Island Divas which spoofs the Real Housewives franchise.

Liz Spaulding is a seasoned marketing & communications executive with over 10 years in the media & entertainment industry. She is currently working on a Marketing contract for Citibank’s Global Consumer Bank division on Customer Experience and Digital Engagement. Prior to Citibank, Liz was named the first ever New York Director for the SAG-AFTRA Foundation, and previously managed the $4M+ annual incentive: The “Made in NY” Marketing credit while at the NYC Mayor’s Office. Liz also worked in the private sector of the entertainment industry, as Marketing Coordinator for Tribeca Film, the newly launched distribution arm of the Tribeca Film Festival. She managed the promotional assets, marketing strategy and release windows for over 15 feature films per year, marketing independent titles to a wide audience in a new distribution model.

Sasha Stone has been writing about film and the entertainment industry for going on twenty years. She began her website Oscarwatch.com in 1999, was sued by the Academy and was forced to change the name to AwardsDaily.com. She graduated from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television and briefly attended Columbia Graduate Film School. Although she mostly covers the Oscar race, her writing extends to diversity in the industry and awards race, and freelances for Women’s Media Center. She has a daughter in college, a dog and two cats and lives in Burbank, California.