Mehret Mandefro is an Emmy-nominated producer, writer, and director that champions the creative arts as a path to developing a more just society. Mandefro draws on her interdisciplinary training as a physician and anthropologist to create compelling narratives she calls “visual medicine.” She cofounded the multimedia production companies Truth Aid in New York and its sister company A51 Pictures in Ethiopia and was most recently executive producer of Kana Television. Her credits include the Sundance and Berlinale Audience Award winner Difret, the New York Times Critic’s Pick Little White Lie, the viral digital series The Loving Generation, and is showrunner of Ethiopia’s first-ever teen drama series Yegna. She recently executive produced the American Masters feature documentary film How It Feels To Be Free which is nominated for an Emmy and is a member of the American Television Academy.
As a member of the Jobs Creation Commission of Ethiopia’s Advisory Council, she has helped advocate for and shape policies that will enable the creative sector to thrive and serve as an engine for economic growth and is a sought after speaker on this topic. She recently gave a TED talk on the job-creating, democracy saving power of the creative industries that has over one million views and is being developing into a book. Mandefro is also a founding member of Ethiopia Creates, a multidisciplinary effort dedicated to strengthening Ethiopia’s creative economy, and cofounder of Realness Institute, which aims to build the film and television industry across Africa. Her track record at the intersection of social impact and media earned her a spot on Variety’s 2021 list of most impactful women in global entertainment.
She has an AB in Anthropology from Harvard University, an MD from Harvard Medical School, a Masters in Global Public Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine as a Fulbright Scholar, and a PhD in Anthropology from Temple University. Her distinctions include being named a “Great Immigrant” by the Carnegie Corporation, a White House Fellow in the Obama administration, and a Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar. She is an alumnus of the Sundance Institute’s New Voices Lab, Film Forward, American Film Showcase, and the EAVE Producers Workshop. She lives between Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Alexandria, Virginia with her husband and three children. She is represented by CAA for film and television and TED Speakers Bureau. In 2022 she became an official member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.