Kicking off its 2021 in-person edition this Thursday, Lille’s Series Mania has announced the creation of two new initiatives which will run under its Series Mania Forum banner. This year, the festival is establishing the Woman in Series Award to honor a key female figure in the European TV industry, as well as the launching the Series’ Women program to enhance the careers of women working in the European drama series industry.

Awarded in association with the European Women’s Audiovisual Network (EWA Network) and Pour Les Femmes Dans Les Médias (PFDM), the first ever Women in Series Award will be given to Christina Sulebakk, general manager of HBO Max EMEA.

In January of this year, Sulebakk was handed the reins for the territories, replacing Hervé Payan, who served as CEO of HBO Europe for eight years. With the company for more than eight years, Sulebakk previously served as executive vice president, CMO and head of distribution. During her time at the company, she worked at offices in Madrid, Budapest and New York, and was key in transforming the Central European business into streaming and launching HBO España and HBO Portugal. She played a major role in developing the market strategy for HBO Max’s Latin America launch earlier this summer, with a European launch set for later this year.

Established by the Erich Pommer Institut (EPI), a leading provider of professional training for the German and European media industries, Series’ Women is as a career enhancement initiative for women producers working in the European drama series industry. The program will invite 20 participants to train in visibility and leadership, while simultaneously offering access to industry markets and promoting professional networking.

The initiative will include a series of live online workshops and come with access to EPI’s catalog of online courses. Among the skills emphasized in the mentoring and training will be pitching, and participants will have access to exclusive pitching and networking opportunities at this year’s Series Mania Forum.

Series Mania also announced that this year’s Women in the Industry Photo Shoot will take place on the evening of Monday, Aug. 30. Established in 2018 to enhance visibility among women working in the industry, the photo shoot will be the first time in nearly two years than many old friends and colleagues will see each other face-to-face, and promises to be one of this year’s Series Mania highlights.

“Creating, developing and implementing these initiatives in order to highlight and value the work of women within our industry is something that is incredibly close to my heart,” said Series Mania founder and general director Laurence Herszberg. “I could not be prouder than to present Christina with our first Woman in Series Award as she epitomizes that of a remarkable leader with true vision.  And I have no doubt that the Series’ Women program will be a first-class event aimed to increase the visibility of female producers and projects.”