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Melissa Goodman, Shay Bentley-Griffin, Wilbur Fitzgerald and Ric Reitz to be honored with Governor’s Award


NATAS SE will present the prestigious Governor’s Award which recognizes individuals for outstanding achievements in the arts, sciences or management of television or allied media. This year’s award will be shared by Shay Griffin, Wilbur Fitzgerald, Melissa Goodman and Ric Reitz. This group was instrumental in securing tax credits that have propelled Georgia into a leading position for network television production.

Editor’s note: The below is a press release issued to us from a representative of Shay Bentley-Griffin.

“Bentley-Griffin has been instrumental in revitalizing the economy of Georgia, with a $9.5 billion economic impact to the state in 2017 alone. She’s also been an influential representation of women in an industry dominated by men.  A widely respected powerhouse in the film industry, Shay has been an Emmy-nominated casting director since 1988, long before Georgia became the number one location for film production in the world. In fact, Los Angeles tried to lure her out west where the business was booming in the 90’s, and where Shay was born.  But she stayed in Atlanta and took the more challenging path – – one that has played out like a good Hollywood drama.

“I’m extremely happy with what we’ve accomplished in our film community, but now I believe it is time to do the same thing for women,” says Bentley-Griffin, “One of my major goals is for Georgia to be known as the state that promotes women in the entertainment industry.” Her latest projects include content creation and production of women-centric characters and their stories.

Shay has cast more than 300 television and film projects since the late 80’s. In 2015 alone, directors Clint Eastwood, Jamie Foxx and Ang Lee called upon Shay to fill their films with talented locals.

A champion for the Atlanta acting community, Shay has made a sizeable contribution toward the recognition of local actors, launching innumerable careers through her company, The Chez Group. From Walton Goggins to “Rectify’s” Ray McKinnon and “Cougar Town’s” Dan Byrd to “Friday Night Light’s” Kyle Chandler and “Army Wives” Skyler Day.  She also brings to Atlanta regular workshops and programs through Chez Studios, offering industry experts and insider information to aspiring actors, agents and casting directors.

Helping to create talent is what inspires Shay. “There is great joy in seeing something in a budding actor, finding the right role for them and watching them flourish,” says Bentley-Griffin. It is Shay’s innate skill as a storyteller that has likely helped her become the notable casting director she is today.  Her gift is bringing the character on paper to life.

Shay has served under two governors on the Georgia Film, Music and Digital Entertainment Advisory Board, was appointed as Georgia’s film liaison to Los Angeles, is founder of the Georgia Production Partnership and is a board member of the Rome International Film Festival.  She has received numerous industry awards, including the Crystal Obelisk Award from the Casting Society of America, the ‘Icons of the Industry’ award from the Entertainment Society of the Technology Association of Georgia and is a three-time Emmy nominee for her work in casting.  She was honored as an Atlanta Business Chronicle Women Who Means Business winner in 2017.

Founded in 1973, the Southeast Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences is one of 19 chapters throughout the United States identifying and celebrating excellence in television and other broadcast visual media via its unique EMMY® Awards production.


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