Jana Smith is a Gary, Indiana-bred, NY based screenwriter, documentarian, and programmer. She studied filmmaking and African American Studies at Sarah Lawrence College. She's made it her mission to create consciousness-elevating content that centers women, girls, and femmes of color. Jana's passion for storytelling is not something she takes lightly. With every project, she aims to revolutionize the way stories are told! Her debut personal essay was recently published in Essence magazine!
Her pilot Melissa for Mayor was a semi-finalist in the Lena Waithe & Eva Longoria MACRO Episodic Story Lab. She has also been nominated for several screenwriting competitions including ChicagoShort100 and the SLCReelies. Jana has directed independent documentary projects in the US and abroad. She's worked in the casting department for hit shows such as The Good Wife and Madam Secretary and has lent her helping hand to shows such as HBO's Random Act of Flyness and WorldChannel's America ReFramed. Jana has strived to use film as a means to further social justice in her role at American Documentary with the PBS series POV and continued this effort in her most recent role on the programming team at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival. During the quarantine, Jana created Relax, Relate, Release, a meditation series of various themed audio tracks featuring empowering messages from Dr. Angela Davis, Dr. Maya Angelou, Lena Horne, Tabitha Brown, Nina Simone, Denzel Washington, and many others over soothing soundscapes.
Most recently, Jana wrote for a pod/vodcast by American Express highlighting small Black-owned businesses. You can listen to Built to Last hosted by former editor and chief of Teen Vogue, Elaine Welteroth on all major podcast platforms!