N.A.Z. Pankey’s story is one of redemption, hope, and inspiration about overcoming the adversities of life, and the faith that got her through the hardships and the abuse that she had to endure. She was born in New York City “The Big Apple” at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital on April 10, 1976 to a mother who was a junkie, addicted to heroin, and to a father who was a married man, so Pankey was abandoned by her father from birth. Growing up, she had to raise her 5 younger siblings, so her early education suffered. She persevered through to attend Norfolk College where she discovered a passion for writing. N.A.Z. took as many writing classes as possible, enjoying creating character arcs, receiving correction from professors, and the process of storytelling.
While in college, N.A.Z. drove a school bus, which led her to an internship and eventually a full time job at NBC Universal’s Steve Wilkos show, Jerry Springer Show and the Maury Povich show. In the meantime, she finished with a degree in Media Studies and Television Production, earning a place on the Dean’s List, becoming a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and being nominated for Women of Promise and Distinction.
In 2012, Pankey moved to Atlanta, Georgia where she continued writing, and joined Screenwriter’s Anonymous group to learn how to write screenplays. She soon produced a 48 Hour Film called Awake on the Train to Hell, that was so big, the project drew people from all around that wanted to work with her. A meetup group soon arose from this with filmmakers coming together to film, edit and critique while building each others’ confidence. Through this same group, N.A.Z. discovered her own confidence in acting, through demonstrating how a character should work that she developed herself.
Having started a film company called Beastmode Entertainment, N.A.Z. has written, produced, directed, edited and acted in numerous short films and documentaries. She’s even directed a SAG feature, I Thought You Was a Nice Man. In 2017 her short film, RAPE (Recovering After Post Traumatic Experience), made it into a Spotlight Documentary film festival and won Spotlight Documentary Film Award, starring Jason Louder and Anjil Jeter. Her screenplay, Secret, made it to the semifinals of the Austin Film Festival and was in the top 8 films of the WEScreenplay Festival. A Road to Georgia was another screenplay that make it to WEScreenplay semifinals and won a Screencraft award. Her short entitled Dear Jody has also been featured in the Real Black Men Film Festival.
After directing and starring in her latest short film, N.A.Z. is enjoying post-production of Evergreen Uprooted: Memoirs of Secret, based on her autobiography. She looks forward to transforming it into a television pilot and eventually a feature film. As she continues to write, N.A.Z. seeks to inspire others, knowing that her life struggles have purpose and that God is using her light to shine in dark places