The Hollywood Reporter hosted the inaugural “Raising Our Voices: Setting Hollywood’s Inclusion Agenda” luncheon, presented by Walmart at the Maybourne Beverly Hills on Wednesday, April 20th.

Marlee Matlin speaks onstage during The Hollywood Reporter's Raising Our Voices
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“Raising Our Voices” brings together the industry’s most influential and inspiring executives, storytellers and thought-leaders for a groundbreaking series of discussions on the state and future of Hollywood’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) movement.

During the program, keynote speaker Marlee Matlin (Academy Award-winning actor, star of Apple Studios’ 2022 “Best Picture” Oscar-winner CODA and disability advocate) was introduced by Troy Kotsur (2022 “Best Supporting Actor” Oscar-winner, CODA). During the speech, Matlin discussed the lack of representation of the deaf and disabled community within the entertainment industry and the importance of working together to help amplify these authentic and diverse voices.

Additional key moments from the program included:

  • Bird Runningwater (producer and global Indigenous activist) and Crystal Echo Hawk (President and CEO at IllumiNative) opened the program and discussed the importance of inclusion.
  • Nekesa Mumbi Moody (Editorial Director of The Hollywood Reporter) introduced Geena Davis (Oscar-winning actor, Founder/Chair, The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, The Bentonville Film Festival) who recognized the need for more female inclusion within children and family media and made it her career goal to bring about more diversity and inclusion in front of and behind the camera.
  • Geena Davis introduced Jean Batthany (Walmart Chief Creative Officer) who discussed Walmart’s commitment to driving greater equity and the power of Hollywood to inspire systemic change in society.
  • Rebecca Sun (The Hollywood Reporter’s Senior Editor, Diversity and Inclusion) introduced Dr. Yalda Uhls (UCLA assistant adjunct professor and Founder of the Center for Scholars and Storytellers) who shared details regarding data included in the first inclusion report in 2020 and how diversity affects Hollywood production.
  • Stacey Wilson Hunt (award-winning entertainment journalist) led the State of Inclusion in Hollywood panel, which included questions posed to Alex Schmider (Director of Transgender Representation, GLAAD), Dr. Sharoni Little (Head of Global Inclusion Strategy at CAA), Gloria Calderón Kellett (writer, producer, director and actor), Latasha Gillespie (Head of Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Amazon Studios, Prime Video and IMDb), Samata Narra (Senior Vice-President, Equity + Inclusion, Content, Warner Bros. Discovery) and Wilmer Valderrama (actor and activist).
  • Julie Gehrki (Vice President of Philanthropy, Walmart) and Tony Waller (Vice President, Constituent Relations and Racial Equity, Walmart) discussed Walmart’s efforts to advance racial equity and announced a $1 million grant to the Ghetto Film School to create a storytelling training program for Black businesses in partnership with WOCStar Capital.
  • Colleen Bataille (Head of Marketing and Communications, WOCStar Capital) and Ghetto Film School student, Alyse Arteaga discussed how Walmart’s grant allows the organizations to help Black businesses market their companies and secure capital through storytelling, in turn helping to grow their businesses.
  • Carlos Lopez Estrada discussed the Ghetto Film School’s mission to teach its students how to use their voices to tell authentic, impactful stories and how the support from Walmart aligns with this mission.
  • Richie Siegel (Co-founder and President of Inevitable Foundation) and Nic Novicki (Founder and Director of the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge) discussed representation and accommodation for disabled individuals. Novicki also outlined the goals of the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge.
  • Heather Rossi (American Sign Language interpreter and chief ASL consultant on CODA), Jack Jason, Justin Maurer and Rorri Burton acted as interpreters during the program.

Additional notable talent in attendance included Amy Landecker, Daniel Durant and Natalie Morales.

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