In light of a recent USC study on the state of diversity within the entertainment industry, the SAG Foundation's The Business program is presenting a panel populated by Latino actors and industry professionals who will share their thoughts and experiences on the current and future trends of Latinos in the media.
Dr. Stacy L. Smith
Dr. Smith (Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara, 1999) is the Director of the Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative at USC Annenberg's School for Communication & Journalism. As the Director, Dr. Smith oversees all of the MDSC Initiative's research activities, and routinely presents her research findings to academic, industry, and advocacy groups. Dr. Smith has written more than 100 journal articles, book chapters, reports, and conference papers on content patterns and effects of the media. She has received multiple "top paper" awards for her research from the Instructional Developmental Division of the International Communication Association. In terms of the popular press, Dr. Smith’s research has been written about in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, fivethirtyeight.com, The Atlantic, The Huffington Post, Newsweek, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Slate.com, Salon.com, The Boston Globe, and USA Today, to name a few. She also has a co-edited essay in Maria Shriver’s book, A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything (2009). Her work has been funded by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, Sundance Institute, Women in Film Los Angeles, The Jacquelyn and Gregory Zehner Foundation, the Harnisch Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Cristela Alonzo, actor
Cristela is the co-creator, co-executive producer and star of the ABC sitcom, "Cristela," an achievement which caps a whirlwind year. Cristela rose to fame in the world of standup and has since topped multiple comedy powerplayer lists including "Variety's Top 10 Comics to Watch," "Top 10 Comedy Acts to Watch in 2014" by LA Weekly, Cosmo Latina's "8 Women You Should be Following on Twitter," Time Out's "Comics to Watch," Cosmo's "13 Female Comedians to Watch For in 2014," and "One of the 50 Comedians You Should and WILL Know" by Vulture.com. Cristela recently made a deal with Comedy Central to release her debut CD, "Some of the Hits," this fall."The Half Hour," her first half hour special in Boston, premiered in June 2013 on Comedy Central to rave reviews. Cristela has also made multiple appearances on "Conan," Gabriel Iglesias' "Stand Up Revolution," Showtime's "Legally Brown," "Last Comic Standing" and "Live at Gotham." In addition, she performed at the Bonnaroo Music Festival and the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal. One of the most popular standup comedians in the college market, she showcased at the NACA (National Association of Campus Activities) national convention in Charlotte, NC, and was the most requested act of the convention. In the past three years, she has performed for almost 300 colleges. Originally from San Juan, Texas—Cristela is based in Los Angeles, and when not on the road, can be found performing at various area clubs, including her home club The Comedy and Magic Club in Hermosa Beach.
Carmen Cuba, Casting Director
For the past nine years Carmen has been working primarily with director Steven Soderbergh on experimental, independent and studio films and, most recently, premium cable television.Outside of the feature work she does with Soderbergh she recently finished casting Ridley Scott’s “The Martian” (starring Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain), and has “Dark Places” (written by Gillian Flynn, starring Charlize Theron), “Blood Father” (written by Peter Craig, starring Mel Gibson), and “The Reach” (starring Michael Douglas) coming out in the next year. And “Now You See Me” is a feature that came out last year which earned over $100M with a cast featuring Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffallo and Woody Harrelson.Since winning the Emmy for “Behind The Candelabra” in 2013, she has transitioned into television working with HBO/Cinemax (“The Knick” with Soderbergh, “Looking” for director Andrew Haigh, “Open” for Ryan Murphy, “Brothers in Atlanta” for Lorne Michaels) and Netflix (“Sense8” with The Wachowskis, “Narcos” with Jose Padilha) and has an upcoming series with Amazon (“Red Oaks” with director David Gordon Green). It was her collaboration with the controversial filmmaker Larry Clark on the films “Bully” and “Ken Park” where her eye for edgy and raw talent was first truly highlighted. Prior to that she worked as an Associate for Margery Simkin on Ted Demme’s “Life”, Frank Oz’s “Bowfinger”, Richard LaGravenese’s “Living Out Loud” and Terry Gilliam’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”.
Nicholas Gonzalez, actor
A graduate of Stanford University with a BA in English, Nicholas burst onto the scene in the critically acclaimed Showtime series, RESURRECTION BLVD., where he played young boxer/medical student, Alex Santiago for 3 seasons. He very quickly went on to star in several movies and television projects. Nicholas is best known for his turn as Detective Mike Sandoval in NBC’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Detective Luke Morales in FOX’s hit show SLEEPY HOLLOW. Gonzalez also starred in ANACONDAS, DIRTY, SWAT II and BEHIND ENEMY LINES II. He can next be seen in the upcoming indie film, SYMPATH SAID THE SHARK, JANE THE VIRGIN, MODERN FAMILY and the FOX/Seth McFarlane animated series, BORDERTOWN.
Jenn Vigil, Contracts Manager, El Rey Network
Jennifer currently holds the position of Manager, Contracts Administration, at El Rey Network, the English-language cable network launched by maverick filmmaker, Robert Rodriguez, in December 2013. Jenn is also highly involved in El Rey’s development and coordination of community empowerment strategies and diversity initiatives in Los Angeles. Jenn brings with her a long history of network experience, including a strong background in irreverent programming aimed at English-speaking Latino and multicultural audiences. Jenn played an integral role in the launch of SiTV, Inc. (now NUVOtv), the first exclusively English-language network for adult Latinos. Originally hired as “Employee #3”, Jenn quickly proved her talent in programming and development and advanced to Associate Producer of SiTV’s original series, “Not-So-Foreign Filmmakers Showcase”. As an active member of NALIP, NCLR, and NHMC, Jenn has strong ties to the Latino community and has served on various panels, including the Mercury Latino Lens Short Film Challenge and the San Diego Latino Film Festival. Jenn is a graduate of Colorado State University and enjoys returning to her hometown of Pueblo, Colorado to spend time with her family. An avid hiker, Jenn enjoys exploring new trails with her Boston Terrier, Zooey.
Gustavo Arellano, Moderator
Gustavo is the editor of OC Weekly, an alternative newspaper in Orange County, California, author of Orange County: A Personal History and Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America, and lecturer with the Chicana and Chicano Studies department at California State University, Fullerton. He writes “¡Ask a Mexican!,” a nationally syndicated column in which he answers any and all questions about America’s spiciest and largest minority. The column has a weekly circulation of over 2 million in 39 newspapers across the United States, won the 2006 and 2008 Association of Alternative Weeklies award for Best Column, and was published in book form by Scribner Press in May 2007. Arellano has been the subject of press coverage in national and international newspapers, The Today Show, Hannity, Nightline, Good Morning America, and The Colbert Report, and his commentaries regularly appear on Marketplace and the Los Angeles Times. Gustavo is the recipient of the Los Angeles Press Club’s 2007 President’s Award and an Impacto Award from the National Hispanic Media Coalition, and was recognized by the California Latino Legislative Caucus with a 2008 Spirit Award for his “exceptional vision, creativity, and work ethic.” Gustavo is a lifelong resident of Orange County and is the proud son of two Mexican immigrants, one whom was illegal.
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