DAY 1:  WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 11, 2021 (All Times Pacific)

Watch Panel Recording 

12:30 pm — 12:35 pm PT (3:30 pm ET) OPEN

Host, Dana Blair, officially launches the virtual event by introducing the program and its theme. Expectations for participants will be outlined along with an understanding of the importance of fomenting inclusive storytelling across diverse communities in a time of disruption.

Watch Panel Recording

Host: Dana Blair, Journalist, TV Host & Producer — Instagram @justdanablair

 Dana Blair                                       

12:35 pm — 12:45 pm PT (3:35 pm ET) WELCOME

Opening remarks delivered by the Foundation’s executive director underscoring the theme, the importance of storytelling and the methodology that helps to connect diverse content creators with decision-makers. Joined by the event’s co-founder, they will provide keen insights into how the industry has changed since the Forum’s founding, including how social media, databases and streaming platforms have significantly shifted the scale of the playing field and everyone’s access to it. You will hear how the Forum has responded to industry shifts by expanding its focus from hiring to development opportunities.

Watch Panel Recording

Welcome: Michelle Ray, Executive Director, Walter Kaitz Foundation

Speaker:  DMA, President, Planet DMA — Instagram & Twitter @planetDMA

Welcome Panel

12:45 pm — 1:15 pm PT (3:45 pm ET)  IN CONVERSATION | Writing Your Breakthrough Script 

The entertainment industry depends on new voices with new ideas to deliver content, but writing that breakthrough script that gets you noticed in Hollywood is never as easy as it looks. Former television executive turned writer, Kelly Edwards, provides invaluable insights from the gatekeeper’s POV on finding the one idea that will set you apart from the rest. Edwards’ book, The Executive Chair: A Writer’s Guide to TV Series Development, will be published in October.  250 randomly selected lucky participants will receive a copy of the book.

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Moderator: MaryAnne Howland, Founder & CEO, Ibis Communications — Instagram @IbisfliesTwitter @Ibiscomm

Presenter: Kelly Edwards, Writer, Executive, Diversity Thought Leader — Instagram & Twitter @kellyedwards_co, website

Kelly Edwards and Maryanne Howland

1:15 pm — 1:45 pm PT (4:15 pm ET)   KAITZTALK | The Journey and the Path Forward

Award-winning journalist and former television executive, Paula Madison, embodies the essence of intersectional diversity. Known widely for her role as principle owner of The Africa Channel and for her personal crusade to tell the story of her Chinese ancestry from China to the Caribbean and back, Madison will share the power of broadening our perception of racial identity through unique storytelling. This is an opportunity for NextGen creatives to hear about the power of diasporic stories.

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Speaker: Paula Madison, Chairman & CEO, Madison Media Management LLC & Principle Owner, The Africa Channel — Instagram @pamadison, Twitter @findingsamlowe

In partnership with:

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1:45 pm — 3:00 pm PT (4:45 pm ET)  PANEL | Diversity Exclusion: Understanding the Native American Voice in Entertainment 

An insightful panel exploring the current state of Native Americans in entertainment as measured by inclusion in the Writer’s Room, representation on set and how the community maximizes its current growth moving forward. The panel, represented by a diverse group of tribes, will provide their perspectives in navigating the industry by sharing their experiences working with networks, studios, and Showrunners. Panelists will further unveil the lack of awareness regarding diversity within indigenous communities and the Native American “Diaspora” including cultural insights, proper Two-Spirit representation, and lack of resources that tribes in the US receive in comparison to their indigenous counterparts throughout the world.

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Moderator: Ian Skorodin (Choctaw), Director of Strategy, Native American Media Alliance & CEO, Barcid Foundation


Doane Tulugaq Avery (Inupiaq), Filmmaker

Siena East (Choctaw), Writer, Comedian & Actress

William Jehu Garroutte (Cherokee Nation), Writer

Jason Grasl (Blackfeet), Actor, Writer

Cara Jade Myers (Wichita), Actor, Writer

Diversity Exclusion Panel

In partnership with:


3:00 pm — 4:30 pm PT (6:00 pm ET)   SCREENING & CONVERSATION | Stateless 

The Forum’s inaugural film screening presents Stateless, a documentary by award-winning director Michèle Stephenson. Following the families of those affected by the Dominican Republic’s 2013 legislation stripping citizenship from Dominicans of Haitian descent, the film uncovers the complex history and present-day politics of Haiti and the Dominican Republic through the grassroots electoral campaign of a young attorney named Rosa Iris.

Watch Panel Recording

Host: Vania André, Communications & Marketing Director, THE CITY; Board Chair / Special Investigations Correspondent, The Haitian Times — Instagram @vaniaandre_

Panelists:   Michèle Stephenson, Producer & Director, Stateless” — Instagram: @michele_0608 & @radastudioNYC, Twitter @michele0608

View the full-length film:
Password: stateless2021POV

Film Screening Panelists

4:30 pm — 4:35 pm PT  (7:30 pm ET)    WRAP 

Highlights of the day’s program and a tease of the second day’s content and speakers will conclude Day 1.

Watch Panel Recording

Host: Dana Blair, Journalist, TV Host & Producer — Instagram @justdanablair


DAY 2:  THURSDAY, AUGUST 12, 2021 (All Times Pacific)

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10:00 am — 10:05 am PT  (1:00 pm ET)  OPENING 

Dana Blair returns to open the second day of the program outlining the day’s agenda. Highlighting an agenda rich with content she will help participants navigate our understanding of Stories from the Diaspora and the many voices that contribute to a navigable path to diverse storytelling.

Watch Panel Recording

Host: Dana Blair, Journalist, TV Host & Producer — Instagram @justdanablair

Dana Blair

10:05 am — 10:15 am PT (1:05 pm ET)  WELCOME 

Michelle Ray welcomes the attendees and discusses the critical work of the Walter Kaitz Foundation and programs like the Hollywood Creative Forum.

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Speaker: Michelle Ray, Executive Director, Walter Kaitz Foundation

Michelle Ray Headshot

10:15 am — 10:20 am PT  (1:15 pm ET)   SPONSOR SPOTLIGHT | Charter Communications 

Presenting Sponsor, Charter Communications, underscores their commitment to DEI including the development of exclusive original content to enhance the viewing experiences of their customers.

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Speaker: Rhonda Crichlow, SVP & Chief Diversity Officer, Charter Communications

Rhonda Crichlow Headshot

Sponsored by:

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10:20 am — 10:45 am PT (1:20 pm ET)  KAITZTALK | Taking Our Narrative Back

There’s an African proverb that Detavio Samuels often repeats, “until the lion learns to tell his own story, the story of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” It’s a proverb that underscores the theme of the Forum and sets the stage for this talk.  As a Black media trailblazer, Samuels will share his vision on the power of authentic storytelling and why it’s critical that stories from across the Black diaspora are told by those from inside of “the culture” and what it takes to bolster content that addresses important topics such as socioeconomic discrimination and identity intersectionality.

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Speaker:  Detavio Samuels, CEO, REVOLT Media & TV

Detavio Samuels

10:45 am — 11:45 am PT (1:45 pm ET)  PANEL | The Original Content Pipeline 

Development executives across all platforms discuss the organic pathway to pitching and selling original live-action content both scripted and unscripted.  Discussion will include content mandates, assessing the marketplace, the art and creative elements of a great pitch, navigating with and without representation, and the bridge between creating content and engaging in its execution. At the end of this panel, attendees will walk away with understanding the key best practices to undertake and what to avoid in selling original content.

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Moderator: DMA, President, Planet DMA — Instagram & Twitter @planetDMA


Maitee Cueva, Executive Producer, Development & Production, A&E Networks

Brett King, VP of Creative Programming, Diversity & Inclusion, Sony Pictures Entertainment — Instagram & Twitter @itsbrettking

Lynnette Ramirez, Head of Development, Bassett Vance Productions

Sponsored by:

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11:45 am — 12:45 pm PT (2:45 pm ET)   PANEL | Global Greenlight: Content Creators & Platforms Expanding the Global Lens 

As the new distribution landscape intersects with an ever-expanding global marketplace, producers and executives alike provide insights on new market opportunities and developing content across the international spectrum.

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Moderator:  Steven Adams, Manager/Producer, Co-Founder, Alta Global Media


Samad Davis, International Content Producer & Distributor

Brendan Gabriel, VP of Production & Creative Director, The Africa Channel

Peres Owino, Writer/Director/Producer

In partnership with:

Entertainment Speakers Bureau Logo

Global Greenlight Panel

12:45 pm — 1:45 pm PT (3:45 pm ET)   PANEL | Inside the Writers’ Room

Leading Showrunners will share their experiences, insights and advice on how to successfully navigate a Writers Room from what it takes to be hired on staff to what it takes to become invaluable to the room and how to move up. Following the live panel there be audience Q&A.

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Moderator:  Carole Kirschner, Director, CBS Diversity Writers Mentoring Program & Director, WGA Showrunner Training Program — Twitter @carolekirsch


Dayna Lynne North, Writer, Producer, Showrunner — Instagram @daynalynnenorth, Twitter @classicdayna / @loudsisprods

Nichelle Tramble Spellman, Writer, Producer, Showrunner

Alexander Woo, Writer, Producer, Showrunner

Inside the Writer's Room Panel

1:45 pm — 1:50 pm PT (4:45 pm ET) CLOSE

The formal program will close with highlights and the many take-aways from the two-day event. Planned announcement about the 2022 event in Los Angeles.

Watch Panel Recording

Host: Dana Blair, TV Host & Producer — Instagram @justdanablair

Dana Blair

2:15 pm — 3:30 pm PT (5:15 pm ET)   Networking RECEPTION | Zoom Breakout Rooms

Creatives will have an opportunity to meet and engage directly with each other to expand relationships, share insights from the event and unpack the many takeaways from the two-day event.

Introduction: DMA, Founder, Planet DMA — Instagram @planetDMA

Room Hosts: TBD

Sponsored by:

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