Jia Wertz is an independent documentary filmmaker pursuing stories that “explore wrongful convictions in the name of protecting the social order.” She is also a Forbes contributor and the founder of Studio 15, a socially responsible fashion brand. Since she was young, Jia has been passionate about social justice and “always wanted to do something to help people who have been wrongfully incarcerated.” When the Serial podcast was released in 2014, Jia was so moved by Adnan Syed’s story that she pivoted from her 20-year career in the fashion industry to advocate for him, and others. “That is what compelled me to switch careers and go into filmmaking,” Jia says. “By making this career change, I was able to align my work with my values, and I am so grateful for that.”
The Hall of Femme honoree was nominated by Liz Entin, who shouted her out for being “extremely supportive of other women” and devoting her time to help those who have been wrongfully incarcerated. Jia enjoys using films to grow public consciousness. “Not only is filmmaking something that I love every aspect of — from conducting interviews with my subjects, to the camera work and editing — but it’s also very fulfilling to do work that helps a cause,” she says. “It seems that wrongful convictions are not on most people’s radar, and yet there is a large population impacted by it. I like that we can shed some light on this issue through films and raise awareness.”Find Jia on Instagram.