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Shalini Kantayya Competes in FOX's "ON THE LOT"

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Shalini Kantayya Competes in FOX's "ON THE LOT"

By Michelle Yozzo Drake

I am sitting in my living room, getting ready to watch a young woman whom I have mentored for the past two years take the first step toward realizing her dream of directing feature films with a social message.

When Shalini Kantayya first told me that she was thinking about submitting her film to a new reality show called "On the Lot" - launched by Steven Spielberg, Mark Burnett and DreamWorks - I asked her: "What is there to think about? Just do it!"

Don't you know...SHE DID!!!

When I first met Shalini Kantayya, she was screening her film A Drop of Life at a women's leadership retreat in Texas. Utne Magazine sponsored Shalini's film screening at their Revolutionary Women Retreat in Austin, TX. Kathy LeMay (CEO of Raising Change) and I met Shalini for all of three minutes at that retreat, and we immediately knew that there was something special about Shalini and her work. We knew that we could really help Shalini get her message out there on a very large scale.

I began mentoring Shalini within a few weeks of the retreat. When Shalini asked Kathy and I to sit on the Board of Directors for 7th Empire Media - Shalini's production company - we were both happy to be a part of Shalini's dream. Over the past few years, I have become very close to this amazing young filmmaker. I am happy to share some of what I know about Shalini and her favorite causes with you through my new blog "Our Voices in Media."

Oh! "On the Lot" is about to begin! Guess I'll write while I watch!

As a social activist, Shalini had to pitch A Drop of Life to potential funders to get her message out. What a great first challenge to highlight her poise and passion! How wonderful that her pitch was about a struggling priest! Her spirituality is a strong part of who she is. She and I have had many long conversations about the role of religion and spirituality in our lives. I am not surprised that she made it over that hurdle.

24 hours to put a short film together...quite a challenge, especially among strangers and fierce competitors! I guess we'll have to wait until Thursday at 9:30 p.m. to see the outcome of that challenge!

As Shalini opened the show, my wish for Shalini is: "May The Force be with you!" I hope you feel all of the people sending positive thoughts out to you!

Want a sneak peek at who Shalini Kantayya is and what she stands for? I'll be sharing moments from my interviews with Shalini for my upcoming book and will be interviewing many of Shalini's friends to get their favorite Shalini stories on my "Our Voices in Media" blog.


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“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” – Helen Keller