Originally from the UK, Joanna’s love of storytelling began at an early age with her study of drama and dance and photography and continued well into adulthood when she graduated from the University of Leeds with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.
Her professional career began directing theatre productions for the Sun International Hotel group in Dubai before relocating to Los Angeles to work in television commercial production, working her way up in the film and television industry with roles including content development for Warner Music Group and networks including MTV, VH1 and CMT, and casting director for independent feature films and digital television content for the Publicis Advertising Groupe.
Joanna began her film directing career with the short Inviolate Rose, and leveraged her years of theatre directing, casting and production knowledge to create a very well received film, her original feature script based on it was then optioned by Natalie Portman’s Handsome Charlie Films. Having found her passion in directing, this project was quickly followed by a television pilot and a range of other commercial, fashion and narrative projects.
In 2011 Joanna relocated to Hong Kong where projects have seen her filming for Cheeky Monkey Productions throughout mainland China, Nepal, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines as well as returning to the United States. Recent commercial clients have included brands such as Cathay Pacific, HSBC and The North Face.
Having told several successful female-driven short-form stories, in 2015 she was inspired to explore the issues facing migrant workers in Hong Kong and ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund The Helper documentary. The film, Joanna’s feature directorial debut, chronicles the diverse stories from Hong Kong’s migrant domestic “helpers,” exploring the immense contribution they make to society in the face of heart-breaking separation from their loved ones. The Helper premiered in Hong Kong in May 2017, followed by a theatrical release with Hong Kong’s Edko films. The film’s Thanks A Million social impact campaign has inspired thousands of public gestures of gratitude towards the migrant worker population, creating a marked shift in their perception within the community.
Joanna has subsequently written a children’s book entitled “My Extra Special Auntie” in collaboration with migrant domestic workers art collective Guhit Kalay to continue her work advocating for migrant women. Proceeds from book sales will support the migrant worker focused NGOs Enrich and Pathfinders.
Her second feature documentary film “reFashioned” was released in 2021 following three passionate Hong Kongers attempting to disrupt throwaway consumer culture in the city by developing radical solutions that challenge both the population and fashion industry’s ability to recover and regenerate in a race against the clock before the landfills overflow. The film premiered at Doc DMZ festival in Korea, screened at Hawaii International Film Festival and and Hong Kong’s MovieMovie Life Is Art festival before a theatrical run in Hong Kong and international distribution.
Recently Joanna has directed TV commercial campaigns for The Hong Kong Jockey Club that have won Gold at the Transform Asia Awards.
Joanna’s focus is telling inspiring, international stories featuring ethnically diverse casts including strong women and unique perspectives. To that end she is also currently developing original content including scripted feature films and television series incorporating those elements.
Joanna believes in the importance of nurturing the next generation of women in film and is a keen mentor and supporter of women in the creative industries.