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tia a. smith

CEO - Executive Producer/Director
talentedSOL Productions
Award-winning executive producer and consultant, Tia A. Smith is one of the most sought- after creatives in the industry, continually developing culturally shifting projects that leave lasting imprints.  Known for spearheading and identifying commercially marketable projects, Smith is a rare creative whose work spans digital, independent, corporate, scripted/unscripted television, film, development/current production, and live events.  Most recently, she received the Trail Blazer Award from the African American Women in Cinema (AAWIC), a Proclamation from the City of New York and a “Day of Recognition” honoring her artistic contributions.  Ms. Smith is a National Member-At-Large within the Producers Guild of America, and was selected to represent the guild as a speaker at the United Nations’ “Commission on the Status of Women: The Role of the Producer” Summit.  As a leading value agent, she serves as a judge for the Emmy’s, New York Film Festivals, NAACP Image Awards; and sits on the national board of directors for the Gospel Music Association and Grammy Recording Academy, respectively.  Smith is the owner of talentedSOL Productions which specializes in developing and producing compelling, cultural content to studios, streaming services, and networks domestically and internationally.  

For six years, Smith served as Network Executive at TVOne, LLC., and has launched some of its' most successful and record-breaking programming. The wide range of shows consist of the Emmy nominated "A Ray Charles Tribute: In Performance at the White House", "The Gospel Tradition: In Performance at the White House", The "47th, 48th, 49th &50th  NAACP Image Awards"; sitcoms "Born Again Virgin", "The Rickey Smiley Show"; movies "Hear No Evil", "For The Love Of Ruth", "To Hell & Back", "Girlfriend's Getaway 2"; and true crime franchises "Fatal Attraction"(Cablefax Award), "For My Man", and "Find Our Missing with S. Epatha Merkerson" (Best Practices Award). After Smith's success in developing the network's Monday night true crime block, she was tasked to procure and executive produce one the network's most controversial stories into the biopic, "When Love Kills: The Falicia Blakely Story." Under her leadership, this movie ranks as the networks #1 telecast of all time amongst key demos while reaching 2 million unique viewers increasing the company's profile as "one to watch" in the scripted arena.

Prior to her post at TVOne, Ms. Smith founded talentedSOL Productions in 2006. From script to screen the company traveled the world to create and ensure the best visual representation for its clients. talentedSOL Productions was chosen by The Bill Gates Foundation to document the results of malaria vaccine trials conducted in Africa to reduce the inequities and improve lives around the world. The company produced and consulted on projects for MTV, VH1, BET, TVOne, Lifetime Networks, Burrell, Uniworld, Verizon, Coke, RCA Records, SONY Music Group and many more. talentedSOL produced/directed successful commercials for FORD Motors campaigns, and directed the critically acclaimed documentary “NAACP-Women of the Movement.”

Ms. Smith's career began at Black Entertainment Television (BET), where she became the youngest Music Director to program the billion-dollar network which had over 80 million viewers. Smith continuously proved herself at the network, serving as Executive Producer for the highly rated and longest running show in cable history, "Bobby Jones Gospel." Smith also co-created a myriad of programs such as "Lift Every Voice", "Jam Zone", "Top 25 Countdown", "BET New Year's Countdown", and the network's first "All Access Granted" shows. In addition, Smith also created innovative, specialty programs for the network on Mariah Carey, Usher, Alicia Keys, Jay Z and the highly rated special --"A Conversation with The Queen" featuring Queen Latifah, and "Faithfully Yours: 10 Years of Celebration of Gospel" tribute special.

Smith also produced several prime-time documentaries for conglomerates such as VH1's"Black in the 80's: Color in Film" (critically acclaimed), "All Access: Rock Star Makeovers featuring Kevyn Aucoin", "Save the Music Foundation with Lenny Kravitz", "Hard Rock Live Presents", "Fairway to Heaven: Celebrity Golf with Will Smith", and Lifetime Network's "One in Three" and "Silence" PSA's raising awareness for Women's Abuse Campaigns.
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karen bailey

Executive Vice President
Starz Original Programming
Karen Bailey is Executive Vice President of Original Programming for Starz. 

Based in the company’s Santa Monica office, Bailey recently expanded her leadership role as EVP within the originals team while continuing to spearhead the network’s inclusion initiatives across the slate with a focus on narratives by, about and for women and underrepresented audiences. She continues to expand the drive toward adequate and authentic representation programming, overseeing new development and current productions for the network including the critically-acclaimed “Outlander” and “P-Valley,” as well the upcoming series “Dangerous Liaisons” and “Becoming Elizabeth.” 

Bailey joined Starz in 2006 as an executive producer, overseeing development, production and post-production for the company’s studio slate of television movies and mini-series. She was promoted to Vice President of Production in2007, overseeing the physical production for the company’s newly launched original programming department. Bailey spent the next few years building the internal production department and focusing on the networks’ new slate of original series, including fan favorite “Party Down,” “Crash,” “Boss” and Starz's first international series “Spartacus” and “Camelot.”  

In 2011 she transitioned to creative development and was promoted to Senior Vice President of Original Programming in 2012. Since then she has worked on a number of international co-productions including Golden Globe® and Emmy®-nominated STARZ Original Miniseries “The White Queen” and the critically acclaimed STARZ Original Limited Series “The White Princess;” Golden Globe® and Emmy®-nominated limited series “The Missing” and its sequel; “Howard’s End,” a 4-part TV adaptation written by Academy Award®-winner Kenneth Lonergan; and Starz’s first movie for television, “The Dresser”  starring Ian McKellen and Anthony Hopkins.  

Bailey has been invited to speak at several events and conferences including BAFTA Women Director’s Panel in London, Create and Cultivate Panel in Los Angeles and the College TV Summit at the TV Academy of Arts and Science in North Hollywood. 

Among her honors and awards, Bailey has been recognized as one of Cablefax’s “Most Powerful Women” and “Top Women in Cable” many times over.  

In 2018, Bailey mentored a UCLA student seeking a master’s degree in Film and Television Studies, working with her throughout the year in preparation for her thesis, which went on to be chosen as one of the top three in the graduating class.
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jess wu calder

Executive Producer
One Night in Miami & Blindspotting
Jess WuCalder co-founded Snoot Entertainment in 2004 to develop, finance and produce film and television across all genres and media. Most recently, Wu Calder produced the feature film adaption of Kemp Powers’ Olivier-nominated play “One Night in Miami,” which was released theatrically on December 25, 2020 and premiered on Amazon Prime on January 15, 2021. This powerful story finds Cassius Clay, Malcolm X, singer Sam Cooke, and football star Jim Brown spending time together at a Miami motel, a meeting that would change the course of history. Oscar® winner Regina King has made her directorial debut with this film that stars Leslie Odom Jr., Aldis Hodge, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, and Lance Reddick. One Night in Miami made festival rounds at Venice Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival, among others, and has been honored as a Top 10 Movie of the Year at the 2020 American Film Institute Awards and received the 2021 Independent Spirit Awards Robert Altman Award. The film has since been nominated at the 2021 Academy® Awards, Producer Guilds of American Award, Golden Globe® Awards, BAFTA Awards, SAG Awards, DGA Awards, NAACP Image Awards and WGA Awards, among others.  

Under the Snoot Entertainment banner, Wu Calder recently premiered the Charli XCX documentary Alone Together, which was fully conceived, recorded and released during the COVID-19 pandemic quarantine. The documentary had its world premiere as the closing night headliner at the SXSW in 2021. Additionally, Wu Calder is developing a feature film adaptation of the critically acclaimed video game, Firewatch, as well as adapting the Christopher Paolini novel To Sleep in a Sea of Stars.  

Wu Calder’s additional production credits include Little Monsters and Corporate Animals, which both premiered in the “Midnight Category” at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Little Monsters, starring Lupita Nyong'o, Josh Gad and Alexander England, is a zombie comedy-horror crossover about a washed-up musician Dave (Alexander England) whose fondness for his nephew’s teacher, Miss Caroline (Lupita Nyong'o) motivates him to volunteer to chaperone his nephew’s kindergarten field trip. A sudden zombie outbreak then throws the trip into chaos, and Dave and Miss Caroline must protect the children. Little Monsters was picked up for joint distribution by Neon and Hulu in a bidding war shortly after its Sundance premiere and was later released on October 11,2019. In the comedy Corporate Animals starring Jessica Williams, Demi Moore and Ed Helms, Moore plays the egotistical CEO of Incredible Edible Cutlery, America’s premier provider of edible cutlery. During a mandatory team-building caving trip in New Mexico, disaster suddenly strikes, trapping them underground. Corporate Animals was quickly acquired by Screen Media Films and released on September 20, 2019.  

In 2018, Wu Calder produced the award-winning, timely film Blindspotting which premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival in the “U.S. Dramatic Competition” section and was later released via Lionsgate in July 2018. This dramatic comedy, featuring Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal, explores the realities of gentrification, police brutality and race relations in Oakland, California. Blindspotting hit the pulse of the cultural zeitgeist and received rave reviews, including from former President Barack Obama who named it one of his top films of 2018, and Variety’s Chief Film Critic Peter Debruge who declared this the best film of the year. Wu Calder is currently in post-production for the upcoming “Blindspotting” spin-off television series for STARZ, which will premiere summer 2021. Centered on Ashley (played by Jasmine Cephas Jones) who was nipping at the heels of a middle-class life in Oakland until Miles, her partner of 12 years and father of their son, is suddenly incarcerated, leaving her to navigate a chaotic and humorous existential crisis when she’s forced to move in with Miles’ mother and half-sister. Calder also previously produced Charlie Kaufman’s Academy Award®-nominated animated film Anomalisa.

Wu Calder previously experienced success in Sundance’s “Midnight Category” with Adam Wingard's critically praised film The Guest. Additional Adam Wingard features produced by Calder include the award-winning You’re Next; the horror-thriller Blair Witch and the NAACP Image Award-nominated documentary Thunder Soul.   

Wu Calder is a graduate of the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. She currently resides in Los Angeles.   
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maikik0 james

Director of Programs
Women in Film
Maikiko is Director of Programs of WIF, overseeing member programs including the Emerging Producer Program, Mentoring, the Financing Strategy Intensive with Sundance Institute, the WIF/Black List Episodic and Feature Labs, and the Film Finishing Fund, among others. She co-founded INSIGHT, a WIF community for women of color in entertainment, in 2018. She previously produced impact campaigns with Active Voice, including those for Food Inc., Welcome to Shelbyville, Gideon’s Army, and Kids for Cash, and was a Special Project Advisor on the WIF-supported documentary Seeking Asian Female. Maikiko holds a BFA in Dramatic Writing from Tisch School of the Arts at NYU.
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ben lopez

Executive Director
NALIP
Ben Lopez (@vientofuego )is responsible for the overall design, strategic vision and execution of all domestic and global endeavors for the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP). Ben serves as the year-round industry liaison for executives and content creators in the Latino Lens Incubator programs, working with the top agencies in the world to curate and match these creators with key industry professionals who can move their careers forward. Ben has been quoted on domestic and global publications and outlets, such as Variety and Slate France, and has delivered keynotes, led workshops and participated in the world's leading festivals and markets including Telluride, Sundance, Toronto, SXSW, Tribeca, FICG & Morelia. 
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rafael casal

Co-Creator, Showrunner, Executive Producer
Blindspotting
Rafael Casal is a critically acclaimed writer, producer, actor and poet. He made his feature film debut in Blindspotting, which he wrote, produced and starred. The celebrated film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and Lionsgate won a major bidding war. Rafael is currently in production as the showrunner for the series adaptation for STARZ. He recently acted opposite Hugh Jackman in the Emmy®-winning HBO film “Bad Education” and Ethan Hawke in Showtime's “The Good Lord Bird.” He wrote music for the Apple series “Central Park” and is writing and composing for season two. Casal is also well-known to audiences for his work on HBO's “Def Poetry.” His digital content and music albums have garnered millions of views and listens. His Theatre-in-Verse Works have been presented at venues across the country and his music has been featured on MTV and Showtime series as well as at SXSW and Sundance. Casal is the co-founder and the artistic director of the landmark Bars Workshop at the famed New York City’s Public Theater. He founded and served as the creative director for the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s First Wave Undergraduate Arts Program and Scholarship, which was their first Four-Year Contemporary Performing Arts Program.
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tery lopez

Director of inclusion and Equity
Writers Guild of America West (WGAW)
Tery Lopez is an inclusion strategist, thought leader, change agent and film and television producer.

As head of the Writers Guild of America West (WGAW) Inclusion and Equity Department, Tery works with producers, studio and network executives, and writers to advance diverse representation. Under Tery’s leadership, her department works closely with the WGW Board appointed Inclusion and Equity Group (IEG), co-chaired by showrunners, Glen Mazzara and Shonda Rhimes.

Prior to joining the WGAW, Tery was the Conference Director for the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP). She began her career working for producers, Moctesuma Esparza and Robert Katz (Selena, Gettysburg, Introducing Dorothy Dandridge). Tery quickly advanced to development executive, producing film and tv, and served as Post Production Coordinator on the HBO film, Walkout. She also co-produced Innocent Voices, Mexico’s official Oscar entry for the International Feature Film in 2005.

Tery serves on the advisory board of the Latino Communications Institute (LCI) at Cal State Fullerton and was recently appointed chair of the Entertainment & Arts Alumni Network for Cal State Los Angeles. She is also a founding member of NALIP’s Diverse Women in Media Initiative (DWIMI).

Tery received her Bachelor of Arts in Telecommunications and Film from the California State University at Los Angeles and received the Outstanding Alumni of the year award from the TV, Film and Media Studies department.

STARZ #TakeTheLead Transparency Talks:
Producing for Television and Building Inclusivity

July 29, 2021
12pm - 1pm PT/3pm - 4pm ET

STARZ, in partnership with the Producers Guild of America (PGA) hosts a conversation with creators that will focus on the efforts to be more inclusive in all aspects of producing for television.  The discussion will also include how ratings affect the decisions of networks and studios and the race to attract audiences in this new television landscape.

In Partnership With:

Karen Bailey

Executive Vice President
Starz Original Programming

Jess Wu Calder

Executive Producer
One Night in Miami
& Blindspotting

Daveed Diggs

Executive Producer
Blindspotting

Maikiko James

Director of Programs
Women in Film

Diana Galbadon

Author
Outlander

Ben Lopez

Executive Director
NALIP

Alanna Brown

Writer
Blindspotting

Daveed Diggs

Executive Producer
Blindspotting

Diana Galbadon

Author
Outlander

Elizabeth Méndez Berry

Writer, Editor
Random House

Rafael Casal

Executive Producer
Blindspotting

Tery Lopez

TBD
Writers Guild of America

AnnaLea Arnold

Executive Director
Alliance of Women Directors

Mignon Clyburn

Former FCC Commissioner,
Diversity Champion and
Lionsgate Board Member

Jeffrey A. Hirsch

President and CEO
STARZ

Liz Hilton Segel

Managing Partner,
North America

McKinsey & Company

Tasha Smith

Actress, Director and Acting Coach

Tia A. Smith

CEO - Executive Producer/Director
talentedSOL Productions

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