(Above: Jeff Bewkes moderates a discussion on diversity and storytelling at the BFF Summit, featuring J.J. Abrams, Shonda Rhimes, and Alan Ball.)
Time Warner takes a lead role in promoting diverse voices and perspectives across our outlets in television, film, and journalism—and an event last week in Santa Barbara brought these efforts to life. Creative executives from across Time Warner and some of the top established and up-and-coming storytellers in our industries gathered last week for a summit focused on cultivating diverse voices and engaging new audiences. The Time Warner Summit took place on the same day as the kick-off of the annual BFF Conference (formerly the Black Filmmakers Foundation), which HBO has been an active supporter of for the past 16 years, and Time Warner has joined in supporting. Setting the backdrop for the day was a discussion about the changing composition of our audiences, as demonstrated by the chart below:
Image Credit: Added Value Cheskin
Time Warner Chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes hosted a series of sessions where the company’s top creative executives heard from creative leaders and up-and-coming artists whose efforts have been supported by the Time Warner Foundation through such organizations as NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, the Tribeca Institute and the Sundance Institute. Speakers included the actor/writer/director Ruben Santiago-Hudson, who is known (among many other things) for writing the play and later HBO film, Lackawanna Blues, and a panel of upcoming film-makers including Rashaad Ernesto Green, who wrote and directed Gun Hill Road, Lucy Mulloy, the writer/director of Una Noche, and Aurora Guerrero, who wrote and directed Mosquita Y Mari. As Guerrero later noted, programs of the kinds that are supported by Time Warner and its divisions can be invaluable: "The industry is made up of relationships, and [a lot of diverse filmmakers] don't have those relationships--either in our families or we don't have that lineage in the film industry. We just don't have access to people who can make our films happen, and these programs provide that."
The group also heard from A-listers including Ice Cube and writer/producer/director Tim Story, who shared their perspectives on the role of diverse content in more mainstream entertainment. And to kick off the BFF summit that afternoon, Bewkes moderated a discussion with J.J. Abrams (director of Super 8 and Star Trek, and creator of shows including Lost and Alias and the new Warner Bros. hit Person of Interest); Shonda Rhimes (creator of Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, and the new Scandal) and Alan Ball, (academy award winner for American Beauty, and creator of HBO mainstays Six Feet Under and True Blood.)
Overall, it was a day that informed, educated, entertained and inspired—just what you’d expect from some of the world’s best storytellers.
Here’s an exclusive video of some of the guest participants in the Multicultural Creative Summit and their views on these important issues: