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Akiva Peñaloza is a prolific screenwriter and designer from New York City specializing in the drama genre.


After a distinguished 13-year career in publishing, Peñaloza rebooted and returned to her first love: film. She attended the American Film Institute (AFI), widely considered "the best film school in the world," (Hollywood Reporter, 2015.) As a Screenwriting Fellow, she studied with Academy Award Nominee Anna Thomas (Frida, El Norte,) and was awarded by Academy Award Winner Diane Keaton with a $10,000 scholarship. Her short, Shelia Bloom, was considered by AFI as one of many benchmarks for achievement in screenwriting.


Straight out of AFI, she wrote and directed her first film, La Chiva, winning $10,000 from Ford/Mercury Latino Lens. Widely screened at film festivals around the country, the Mexican-themed film won Best Short at the Long Island International Film Festival, the Miami International Film Festival and the Boston International Film Festival. By popular vote and an esteemed judging panel, La Chiva earned a screening on Channel 13’s Reel 13 shorts program. She was then named a Fellow for the Urban Artist Initiative in New York City.

She teaches at Reelworks Teen Filmmaking to mentor, inspire, and empower underserved NYC youth to share their stories through filmmaking.

Akiva is a #metoo activist who advocates for the mentally ill. She lives in a charming, Frida Kahlo-themed basement apartment with her cats, Hoodie, Little Frida and  Gentleman Jack.



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