Last night AWT attended Bustle’s 2014 Upstart Awards, an event honoring 13 young women who, at the cusp of academic transition, have already accomplished great things in art, social good and entrepreneurship. Navigating the empanadas and Grey Goose martinis, AWT snapped shots of partygoers and caught up with some of the women of honor.

Award recipients included Indrani Kopal, director of the award-winning film “The Game Changer,” a documentary about teaching modern dance to incarcerated men; Liana Rosenman, founder of Project HEAL, a nonprofit devoted to helping women with eating disorders; and Jess Zutz Hilbert, co-founder of Red Duck Foods, Inc., a specialty food company that makes gourmet ketchup.

When award winner Janaya Greene wrote a short story about an African-American girl who gets outed in high school as an assignment for her film studies class, she had no idea that her work would turn into a short film produced by the nonprofit Scenarios USA. “Veracity” addresses the cultural and religious taboo of being gay in the African-American community, a topic that Janaya wanted to explore after hearing conflicting opinions from friends and family members. Writing the story was a way for her to express her own view: “I don’t see why I should have any decision on somebody else’s life.” “Basically I wanted people to reflect on how they treat people and how it can affect them,” she told us. A Chicago native, Janaya just completed her first semester of journalism study at Ohio State. As a photographer as well as a budding journalist, she ultimately wants to combine writing and visual storytelling to help remedy the under-representation of black people in the media, citing Gina Prince-Bythewood, director of “Love And Basketball,” as one of her greatest inspirations.

When artist Krista LaBella got an email from Bustle last fall informing her that she was being nominated for an award her reaction was: “Is this real?” Krista works in photography and sculpture with an emphasis on the female body. Recently she has been using herself as the subject of her work, with the goal of “moving towards a body positive acceptance for all kinds of bodies, larger female forms.” A recent MFA graduate from Pratt, she has settled in Brooklyn and is gracefully navigating the challenges posed to all young creatives. “I’m sort if in that space where I’m not sure exactly what I want to do, but I definitely want to keep making art, because obviously it’s making an impact on someone—and I love to do it, so I’m going to keep doing it.”

Did you attend Bustle’s Upstart Awards? Find yourself in our photo gallery!




Photos by Frances F. Denny