Increasing Representation in the Director's Chair
April 9, 2021
STARZ #TAKETHELEAD TRANSPARENCY TALKS
Increasing Representation in the Director's Chair
April 9, 2021
April 9, 2021
April 9, 2021
AnnaLea Arnold is the Executive Director of Alliance of Women Directors, a non-profit organization dedicated to the professional development, peer-to-peer support, craft enrichment and advocacy of more than 400 women directors ranging from emerging voices to established veterans. AnnaLea is responsible for setting organizational strategy with the Executive Board, overseeing program and curriculum development, and nurturing meaningful industry and corporate partnerships to further the AWD mission of a more equitable entertainment industry.
AnnaLea is a Founding Partner at WeForShe where she launched their annual WriteHer List and DirectHer Program advocating for over 120 women writers and directors over the past five years. As well, she oversaw the development of the WeForShe Showrunner Salon Series. Arnold has a Master of Science in Social Entrepreneurship from USC Marshall and has been a strategic consultant for global brands in inclusion and diversity at Talk to Jess, LLC.
Tasha Smith is an unstoppable force. Carrying the motto to “stay on your mark and stay focused”, this actor, director, producer and teacher has done just that to the delight of moviegoers and television watchers. Smith has been dazzling audiences behind the camera as much as she has shined onscreen.
Since making her directorial debut in 2015 with the short film, “Boxed In,” where Smith tackles the complex issue of mental illness, her work as a director and producer strives to reflect real-life and open audiences up to experiences and circumstances outside of their own. In 2017, Smith was once again at the helm for TV One’s film “When Love Kills: The Falicia Blakely Story,” starring recording artist and actress, Lil Mama. For this project, Smith takes on a bevy of tough topics including teen pregnancy, the dark side of exotic dancing and the fight for survival. Smith’s work illustrates, with careful intricacy, stories that too often go unnoticed or forgotten. Her other credits in directing include several episodes of successful television series including FOX ‘s hit shows “911” starring Angela Basset, and “STAR” with Queen Latifah, the CW’s “Black Lightning,” Amazon’s upcoming Tracy Oliver series “Harlem” with Meagan Goode, BET and Irv Gotti’s “Tales” where she and the industry vet detailed the cinematic song story of Jay Z’s “99 Problems,” and the STARZ drama “P-Valley.”
Fans have been delighted by Smith’s accomplished acting career for years. Her exceptional work in the acclaimed films “WHY DID I GET MARRIED?” and its sequel, “WHY DID I GET MARRIED, TOO?” landed her character of “Angela” a spin-off series with Tyler Perry’s “FOR BETTER OR WORSE” on OWN and earned her an NAACP Image Award nomination as Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series. A former comedienne, Tasha previously let her comedic credentials shine in “Couples Retreat” before enamoring audiences as a captivating cougar in “Jumping The Broom”, later she became a skilled psychotherapist in the 2014 erotic thriller “Addicted.” On Lee Daniels’ “Empire” she breathed life into flawed family woman Carol Hardaway opposite Taraji P. Henson. Her affinity for making characters authentic and relatable is what fans expect when they see Smith, but there’s more to this multifaceted performer.
Already well accomplished and astute in her craft, Smith takes pride in nurturing and mentoring new talent through her Tasha Smith Actors Workshop (TSAW). In her acting academy, artists dedicated to development hone their skills, tapping into their innate artistic potentials. Smith’s work at TSAW is multi-beneficial: her students leave polished and equipped with skills for interplay, movement and expression; and she receives spiritual fulfillment from watching them bloom.
“I started TSAW because I wanted to empower other actors to pursue their purpose in the arts,” says Smith. “I thought I was just giving to them but teaching for the past 15 years has helped me transition in my directing career. It empowered me.
”Her passion for teaching has taken her across continents and cities, from Los Angeles to New York and Atlanta to Africa.
Most recently, Smith took on the role of Executive Producer for the upcoming STARZ series, “Black Mafia Family” where she also directed the premiere episode, several episodes including the season finale. She also severed as Executive Producer for BET Documentary, “Strip Down: The Naked Truth,” where she also serves as host and narrator. The BET Original is an in-depth examination of stripper culture and features real-life stories of female strippers from around the country – providing a look at a lifestyle that is often misrepresented and glorified in pop culture.
On and off screen, Smith’s commanding presence draws the attention of people enamored by her vigor and inspirational life story. Smith is adamant that her career is not per chance, but an intangible calling summoned to her since childhood.
“I always had the dream,” says Smith. “I always say dreams are not figments of our imagination but God showing us a glimpse of our future.”
“I just believe that the circumstances you’re born in don’t necessarily determine your future,” she adds. “I believe that our passion give us purpose and our purpose gives us prosperity.”
In September 2020, Lionsgate named Mignon Clyburn to its board of directors. Clyburn was appointed by President Obama to serve as Commissioner of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission in 2009. She was appointed acting chair in 2013. While at the FCC, she was committed to closing the digital divide and championed the modernization of the agency’s Lifeline Program, which assists low-income consumers with voice and broadband service. She promoted diversity in media ownership, initiated Inmate Calling Services reforms, supported inclusion in STEM opportunities and fought for an Open Internet. Clyburn is the fourth woman on the company’s Board of Directors and the first Black woman.
Madelyn Hammond is President of Madelyn Hammond and Associates, a company specializing in event production and marketing strategies.
Several events she started from scratch, which have become more successful every year, include Deal with It: A Women’s Conference for the Motion Picture & Television Fund, as well as a series of Contenders events for Deadline which showcases all the potential Oscar and Emmy titles that are in contention during the Awards season.
Her company also produces a number of award shows and virtual events including most recently, the American Cinematheque Tribute to Spike Lee, the Critics Choice Celebration of Black Cinema, the Final Draft Award Show and Half Hour With, a series of video livestream conversations with the creative talent from various films and television shows.
Additionally, MHA programs 25 panels and over 100 speakers for the annual Produced By Conference for the Producers Guild of America. Sessions cover a wide variety of topics about film, television and technology.
Prior to launching her own Company thirteen years ago, Madelyn was the Chief Marketing Officer for Variety where she oversaw marketing, promotions, sponsorships, advertising, research and PR. She was the first person in the paper’s 100+ year history to hold the title of Chief Marketing Officer. Before joining Variety, she worked in various positions for Landmark Theatres, Sony Pictures, AMC Theatres, MGM/UA and The Coca-Cola Company.
Jeffrey A. Hirsch is President and Chief Executive Officer for Starz.
As CEO, Hirsch will shape the overall business and programming strategy for Starz and oversee the continued evolution and expansion of the STARZ premium subscription platform around the world.
Hirsch joined Starz four years ago, was promoted to COO in 2016 and has been running the network for nearly a year. Under his leadership, Starz increased its overall domestic subscriber base from 23.5 million to 24.7 million last year and continued the rapid growth of one of the industry’s most successful domestic OTT businesses. Starz already has more than 4.4 million domestic OTT subscribers with successful launches during the last year on Apple, Hulu, Roku, YouTube TV and an array of other platforms.
Hirsch has shepherded the launch of the STARZ app in the U.S. and orchestrated STARZPLAY’s rapid expansion into nearly 50 countries in Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa as well as Canada, making STARZ one of the world’s leading pure-play subscription platforms. Already ahead of schedule, Starz plans to continue its rapid international growth and, as previously announced, expects to have as many as 15-25 million international subscribers by 2025.
Hirsch recently announced that STARZ delivers the highest composition of female viewership in premium cable, and the network continues to build on its success with a focused strategy of developing and producing premium programming that appeals to women and other traditionally under-served African-American, Latinx and LGBTQ audiences. Under his leadership, Starz continues to deliver a deep slate of original hit series including “Power,” a top-rated premium pay series for African-American audiences and over 10 million multi-platform views per episode and “Outlander,” a perennial ratings favorite among women.
Hirsch also recently greenlit three new series written and/or executive produced by women including a reimagined “Dangerous Liaisons,” the third season of “The Girlfriend Experience” and the dark comedy “Shining Vale.” The network is also preparing the launch of “Power Book II: Ghost,” starring Mary J. Blige in a lead role, the first of several “Power”-inspired series that include a prequel shepherded by “Power” creator and showrunner Courtney A. Kemp and executive producer Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson as Starz continues to expand the “Power” Universe into a year-round viewing experience.
Hirsch has played a key leadership role at Starz since joining the company in July 2015 as President of Global Marketing and Product Development. Since Lionsgate’s acquisition of Starz in December 2016, Hirsch has played a lead role in integrating Starz into the Lionsgate family and exploring opportunities for the two companies’ combined suite of OTT offerings.
Prior to joining Starz, Hirsch served as Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Residential Services at Time Warner Cable.
Hirsch was recognized in 2012 as the sole recipient of the Vanguard Award for Young Leadership and twice ranked by Forbes for his executive talents and influence in marketing and social media.
He received a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of Pennsylvania and a Masters of Business Administration from The Amos Tuck School at Dartmouth College.
Liz Hilton Segel is the managing partner for McKinsey in North America. She is a member of McKinsey’s Shareholders Council, the firm’s equivalent of the board of directors, and a member of the global partnership service team, the firm’s 16-person leadership team. She formerly led McKinsey’s Marketing & Sales Practice in the Americas and the New York office.
Since joining the firm, Liz has partnered with clients on their transformations, including strategy, implementation, and capability building. She has largely focused on consumer marketing, growth strategy, and performance improvement. She has served clients across several consumer-facing industries including media, telecommunications, travel, entertainment, retail, financial services, and automotive.
Liz serves on the boards of the Partnership for New York City, the Conference Board and the Central Park Conservancy. She is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Marketing Association’s Marketing Hall of Fame Academy and is a founding member of the Harvard Business School Women’s Club of New York. Liz was recognized by Working Mother as a 2018 Working Mother of the Year and included in Crain’s New York’s 2019 list of Most Powerful Women and 2018 list of Notable Women in Accounting and Consulting. Previously, she served on the board of ClickFox, a customer journey analytics technology company, and the education not-for-profit, Prep for Prep.