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Akiva Peñaloza is a queer woman of color who creates content that exemplifies inclusive and diverse storytelling. After a distinguished 13-year career in publishing, Peñaloza rebooted and returned to her love of film. She attended the American Film Institute (AFI), where, as a Screenwriting Fellow, she studied with Oscar Nominee Anna Thomas (Frida, El Norte.) She was chosen by Oscar Winner Diane Keaton to receive a $10,000 scholarship. 

Straight out of AFI, she wrote and directed her first film, La Chiva, winning $10,000 from Mercury Latino Lens. The Mexican-themed film won Best Short at the Long Island, Miami and Boston International Film Festivals. 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.

Her script, Hannah Henri, was an official selectee of the Tribeca Film Institute’s All Access program. It went on to win the Best Screenplay honors at Newfest Film Festival. Her scripts have been finalists in Cinestudy, Stage 32, Emerging Screenwriters, Filmmatic, WE Diverse Screenplay, ScriptShark and the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Akiva has an extensive, multi-genre portfolio of shorts, series, and features.


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


She resides in New York City in a charming apartment with a Frida Kahlo flair with cats Hoodie, Little Frida and Gentleman Jack.

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