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The Creative Coalition’s Spotlight Initiative announces Shorts Competition Winners




The Creative Coalition today awarded $220,000 in grants to four filmmakers who will produce short films about the untold story of obesity. The grant recipients include writer/director Greg DePaul (“Bride Wars”), Emmy Award-winning scenic designer David Gallo (“Sesame Street”), Emmy Award-nominated actor Kelly Jenrette (“The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Manhunt”), and Academy Award-nominated director Stephen Kessler (“Paul Williams Still Alive”), whose film treatments were selected by a jury of leaders from the television and film arenas, as well as independent topic experts.

DePaul’s film will center around a rideshare worker living with obesity who confronts an unruly passenger, who flouts concern about COVID and casts blame on others. Gallo will use shadow puppets and silhouettes to tell the story of two people living with obesity, who battle demons throughout their lives but ultimately find hope and healing in each other. Jenrette will share the story of a young Black girl who goes on a journey to combat obesity and free herself from her family’s “big boned” label. Kessler will explore obesity in comedy and speak to some of today’s biggest comedians about the weight of being overweight.

“These talented filmmakers are using the power of the arts as a force for good, shining light on an issue that affects one in every three Americans,” said The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk. “By turning the lens on obesity through The Creative Coalition’s Spotlight Initiative, we can help reduce stigma and empower people to take action.”

The grant-making program is part of The Creative Coalition’s Spotlight Initiative, a multi-platform project to showcase the efficacy of the arts in bringing issues of social welfare importance to the forefront of the national agenda. The theme of this year’s competition is “The Untold Story of Obesity in America.” The program is made possible thanks to the gracious support of Novo Nordisk Inc.

Jurists included actor Yvette Nicole Brown (“Community,” “Mom”), Academy Award-nominated film producer David Dinerstein, Executive Producer of Netflix’s “The Umbrella Academy” Mark Goffman, actor Nicholas Gonzalez (“The Good Doctor,” “How to Get Away with Murder”), President of The Hideaway Entertainment Matthew Rhodes (“Men In Black: International,” “Whiplash”), President of Production for Trevor Noah’s Viacom-backed Day Zero Productions Haroon Saleem, as well as medical experts including Nutrition Professor at Boston University Dr. Joan Salge Blake and Adult and Pediatric Obesity Medicine Specialist and Associate Professor of Medicine, Pediatrics & Surgery at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology & Metabolism Dr. Gitanjali Srivastava.

The Spotlight Initiative is a prestigious program in the independent film arena. For over a decade, The Creative Coalition’s Spotlight Initiative Honors have been bestowed during the Sundance, Cannes, and Toronto Film Festivals. Honorees include Nicholas Cage, Uzo Aduba, Alan Arkin, Ellen Barkin, Kathy Bates, Jennifer Connelly, Lee Daniels, Jonathan Demme, Roland Emmerich, Vera Farmiga, Josh Gad, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Taylor Hackford, Dustin Hoffman, Imogen Poots, Jeremy Irons, Anna Kendrick, Barbara Kopple, Barry Levinson, William H. Macy, Alfred Molina, Demi Moore, Tracy Morgan, Julia Ormond, Sean Penn, Quentin Tarantino, Stanley Tucci, and Shailene Woodley, among others.

For more information, please contact Seth Adam at

About The Creative Coalition
The Creative Coalition ( is the premier nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) social and public advocacy organization of the arts and entertainment community. Founded in 1989 by prominent members of the creative community, The Creative Coalition is dedicated to educating, mobilizing, and activating its members on issues of public importance. Actor Tim Daly serves as the organization’s President. The Creative Coalition also creates award-winning public service campaigns including #RightToBearArts to promote the efficacy of the arts. The Creative Coalition harnesses the unique platforms of the arts community and entertainment industry to make positive impacts on social welfare issues.


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