Spring 2015

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30 SAG-AFTRA | Spring 2015 | Shattering Barriers and Ratings David Oyelowo plays Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma. B lack performers in the entertainment and media industries are making headlines with award-worthy films and ratings- shattering primetime shows. Diversity is progressively becoming more relevant and desired by audiences, and content creators are beginning to take note. To highlight this issue, SAG-AFTRA partnered with Variety magazine and The Black List, a group of filmmakers that create an annual list of highly regarded, unproduced scripts, to host an event in collaboration with ICON MANN, a lifestyle media company that aims to positively change the dialogue relating to black males. The event, ICON MANN Sessions, consisted of a two-panel program designed to support crucial conversations about black filmed entertainment. Presented by Lexus and held at SAG-AFTRA headquarters in Los Angeles on Feb. 17, the event sparked discussions in two panels focusing on the inclusion and portrayal of minorities in film and television. SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director David White moderated the first panel, The Evolution of Character. The panel, which focused on how actors, producers and executives approach diversity in entertainment, featured actor David Oyelowo (Selma), casting director Robi Reed (Do The Right Thing), Blair Underwood (L.A. Law) and Oscar- winning actor Louis Gossett Jr. (An Officer and a Gentleman). The takeaway message to performers from the panel was to embrace differences and to use them as a tool for self- empowerment. "This idea of seizing upon your own professional strengths is very powerful," White said. "It allows performers to use their own experiences to catapult their career forward." Oyelowo, who played Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, encouraged a continuous flow of diversity in entertainment in hopes of making a multicultural landscape as common in entertainment as it is in everyday life. VALERIE MACON ATSUSHI NISHIJIMA SAG-AFTRA NED David White Moderates Discussion of Continuing Struggle for Diversity

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