Meet Our Judges
Past & Present Judges
Film producer Elizabeth Avellánis president of EYA Productions and co-owner and vice president of Troublemaker Studios, which she founded in 2000 with director Robert Rodriguez. During the past decade, Avellan has produced a dozen films, including Sin City, Shorts, Predators, and Spy Kids: All the Time in the World. In addition to producing family and genre films that have collectively grossed over a billion dollars, she has played a key role in developing Austin, Texas, as a thriving film community.
Christy Turlington Burns
Christy Turlington Burns started her career as a supermodel, and her face graced the covers of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Allure. In 2010, after giving birth to her first child, she founded the nonprofit Every Mother Counts to help provide women around the world with access to maternity care. She is also a writer, entrepreneur, philanthropist, advocate, and filmmaker (No Mother, No Cry).
Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy
Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy’s documentary films shine a light on human rights and women’s issues and give a voice to marginalized women whose voices are rarely heard. Her film A Girl in the River, a harrowing true story of a girl who survived an honor killing, won an Academy Award in 2016. Her film Saving Face, about acid attacks on women in Pakistan, won an Oscar in 2012.
Richard Curtis is a screenwriter and director of such films such as Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones's Diary, and Love Actually. He is also a United Nations Sustainable DevelopmentGoals Advocate and founder of Project Everyone to support the SDG goals. Curtis was also a founding member of Make Poverty History and is the co-founder and vice chair of Comic Relief, which he started after visiting Ethiopia during the 1985 famine.
Eloise DeJoria, presenting sponsor of the Girls Impact the World Film Festival, has worked as a model, actor, businesswoman, and philanthropist. She is a partner and co-founder of several companies and has created successful health and wellness products. She is widely recognized as the original spokesmodel for Paul Mitchell haircare products. DeJoria supports many philanthropic causes, including SafePlace and She Is Rising.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee is a Liberian peace activist and women’s rights advocate. Gbowee led a coalition of Christian and Muslim women in a nonviolent movement that played a pivotal role in ending Liberia’s civil war in 2003. Gbowee is founder and president of the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa, head of the Liberia Reconciliation Initiative, and co-founder and executive director of Women Peace and Security Network Africa.
Since assuming her current role as president and chief executive officer of The Paley Center for Media in 2006, Pat Mitchell has guided the institution through an exciting rebranding effort. Under her leadership, the Paley Center has hosted countless media leaders and enthusiasts to explore the impact of media on society. Mitchell was named by The Huffington Post as one of the Most Powerful Women Over 50 in 2012, and she was featured in Fast Company’s special report “The League of Extraordinary Women.”
Since founding the Voice of Libyan Women at the age of 21, Dr. Alaa Murabit has championed global health, sustainable development, and women’s participation in peace processes and conflict mediation. She is one of 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goal Global Advocates and a United Nations High-Level Commissioner for health, employment, and economic growth. A TED speaker and co-founder of Omnis Institute, she has received numerous awards and recognitions.
Jean Oelwang is president of Virgin Unite and senior partner of the B Team. Virgin Unite works with Virgin businesses and other partners to create new approaches to social and environmental issues. Oelwang is also a senior partner in the B Team and sits on the advisory council for The Elders and on the boards of the Carbon War Room, Ocean Unite, Ocean Elders, and Just Capital.
Best known for her role as Rosalie Hale in The Twilight Saga, Reed won critical acclaim for her first feature, Thirteen, which she starred in and co-wrote. She played the historical figure Betsy Ross on Fox’s popular TV series Sleepy Hollow. Reed brings her longstanding passion for animals, youth, and the environment to her work as vice president of the Ian Somerhalder Foundation, which supports youth environmental activism and sponsors the Girls Impact the World Film Festival’s Green IS Environmental Film Award.
Jeff Skoll is founder of the Skoll Foundation, which drives large-scale change by investing in, connecting, and celebrating social entrepreneurs and other innovators dedicated to solving the world’s most pressing problems. Skoll also created the Skoll Global Threats Fund to focus on solutions to such threats as climate change, pandemics, and water scarcity. Skoll founded Participant Media to produce films that inspire social change, including Spotlight, He Named Me Malala, A Fantastic Woman, Lincoln, and An Inconvenient Truth.
Zainab Salbi is a humanitarian, author, and media commentator. She is the founder and former CEO of Women for Women International, a grassroots humanitarian and development organization dedicated to helping women survivors of war rebuild their lives. Salbi’s books, Between Two Worlds, The Other Side of War, and If You Knew Me, You Would Care, offer an intimate portrait of women living in the shadow of war.
Ian Somerhalder is an actor, environmentalist, and a UN Environment Programme Goodwill Ambassador. Known for his starring roles in The Vampire Diaries and the groundbreaking climate change documentary series Years of Living Dangerously, he is also the founder and president of the Ian Somerhalder Foundation, which supports youth environmental activism and sponsors the Girls Impact the World Film Festival’s Green IS Environmental Film Award.
Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus is the father of microcredit and social business, Founder of Grameen Bank and of more than 50 other companies. Fortune Magazine named him 'one of 12 greatest entrepreneurs of our time'. Professor Yunus received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work with the Grameen Bank Project and is one of seven people to have received the Nobel Peace Prize, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom and the US Congressional Gold Medal.