2021 College Television Summit Featured Speakers
Cris Abrego is currently CEO of Endemol Shine North America and chairman of Endemol Shine Americas. He oversees both the North American and Latin American divisions of Endemol Shine Group, the global independent content creator, producer and distributor with a diverse portfolio of companies that are behind some of the most prominent hit television formats and series in the world. The former co-founder and chief executive of Endemol Shine-owned studio 51 Minds Entertainment, Abrego is one of the leading creators and producers of reality television in the U.S., recognized globally for pioneering a new genre of unscripted programming with the breakout celeb-reality series, The Surreal Life.
Abrego oversees all of Endemol Shine North America's programming, including hits such as Big Brother (CBS), MasterChef (FOX), The Real Housewives of Atlanta (Bravo), MasterChef Latino (Telemundo), Mira Quién Baila (Univision), Ink Master (Paramount Network), Trading Spaces (TLC), Deal or No Deal (CNBC), LOL: Last One Laughing (Amazon) and the upcoming launch of Utopia (Amazon Prime), Ripley (Showtime), Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (HGTV), Lego Masters (FOX), Súbete a Mi Moto (Amazon), and The Biggest Loser (USA). Additionally, Abrego has oversight of Endemol Shine Latino, the company's Spanish-language sales and development arm that leads all programming initiatives across Latin America. He recently led the launch of Endemol Shine Boomdog, the division's newest studio that produces original content for both the U.S. Hispanic and Mexican markets.
As one of the highest-ranking Latinos in television, Abrego has made inclusion a top priority for his team at Endemol Shine and within the entertainment industry. He recently launched a fellowship program with the Television Academy Foundation focused on creating opportunities within the industry for diverse students. In 2013, Abrego started a scholarship fund at his alma mater, Mountain View High School in El Monte, California, which provides college tuition and additional resources for student athletes. The program, led by his mother Tina, currently has 14 students enrolled at four-year universities nationally and recently celebrated its first college graduating class with three scholarship recipients.
Sarah Bremner is President of Ava DuVernay’s Array Filmworks where she oversees a growing production slate encompassing film (including Oscar-nominated The White Tiger), television (including Queen Sugar, Cherish The Day, Home Sweet Home, One Perfect Shot and animation (Wings of Fire) projects.
Prior to joining Array, the UK-born Bremner spent five years as one of the founding executives of Netflix’s original film initiative where she managed the development and production of such films as the multi-Oscar nominated The Two Popes, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, and Will Smith’s Bright.
She previously held creative roles at A&E Studios, Exclusive Media, Paramount Pictures and began her entertainment career at Nina Jacobson’s Color Force.
Jamila Daniel was recently promoted to the role of Chief Diversity Officer for the entire company. In this expanded role, she will partner with the company’s leadership team to effect organizational changes in policy and culture that lead to a more diverse and inclusive workplace which ensures an equal path to success for all employees. She will lead a newly-formed Diversity Leadership team that will orchestrate company-wide strategies to realize structural and sustainable change.
Daniel also serves as Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Starz, consulting with business unit management to strategically plan and process the development of HR strategies that support the company’s goals for its employees.
At Crown Media Family Networks, Jamila spearheaded Talent Acquisition which included developing and executing a talent acquisition strategy focused on diversity, managing the full life cycle of recruitment including candidate sourcing, interviewing, hiring, orientation and on-boarding; affirmative action compliance and managing sourcing relationships.
Jill Dickerson serves as SVP Programming & Development at OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. She was formerly VP Programming & Development and has been with the network since 2009. A highly respected television executive and producer, she has helped launch and oversee a diverse slate of groundbreaking reality and documentary programming there, including Welcome to Sweetie Pie's, Our America with Lisa Ling, Deion's Family Playbook, and For Peete's Sake. Current projects include hit relationship series' Black Love, Family or Fiancé, Ready to Love, and Love & Marriage: Huntsville.
With two decades of experience in reality programming, she actively collaborates with producers in series development and supervises editorial management of outside production. Before joining OWN, she was consulting producer for the Sydney, Hollywood and Brooklyn seasons of MTV's The Real World, where she was responsible for developing all storylines and overseeing structure and editing of the landmark series.
Stephanie Noonan Drachkovitch is Co-CEO and Co-Founder of Peabody, Emmy®, Gracie and GLAAD award-winning non-fiction producer 44 Blue Productions, a Red Arrow Studios company. A former studio executive, Stephanie is the leading force behind 44 Blue’s dynamic slate of programming.
During stints as Senior Vice President of Development for Warner Bros. Telepictures, and Disney’s Buena Vista TV unit, Stephanie developed The Bachelor and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire for primetime broadcast.
Her experience has helped shape 44 Blue’s diverse slate, including Netflix’s breakout hit Jailbirds, E!’s top-rated Hollywood Medium with Tyler Henry, A&E’s twice Emmy-nominated Wahlburgers and critically acclaimed Nightwatch franchise with Dick Wolf, and the GLAAD-Award winning STRUT for Oxygen; the new series The Real Murders of Orange County; syndication’s Emmy-nominated Family Court With Judge Penny; Style Network’s Emmy-nominated Split Ends; VICETV’s No Mercy, No Malice with Professor Scott Galloway; OWN’s Grace Award-winning Married To The Army: Alaska; and the true-crime series Twisted Sisters and spin-off Twisted Love for Investigation Discovery, produced in association with Khloé Kardashian.
Ruben Garcia is Co-Head of the Cultural Business Strategy Group at leading entertainment and sports agency Creative Artists Agency (CAA). In this role, Garcia collaborates with company leadership to execute company-wide strategies and implement inclusive business practices that maximize creative and business growth opportunities for the agency’s diverse clients. In addition, he manages a custom slate of programs and initiatives, including CAA Amplify, a platform designed by the agency to leverage the collective influence of cross-industry thought leaders and cultural changemakers of color to create transformational change across business and society.
Garcia also oversees CAA’s corporate partnerships and liaises with clients, businesses and organizations interested in promoting and building philanthropic activities connected to diversity in business and creative fields. His clients include Kendrick Sampson, Anthony Ramos, Becky G, Laurence Fishburne, Edwards James Olmos, Connor Franta, Ricky Martin, and Karla Souza, among others.
Paul Garnes is Head of Physical Production for Ava DuVernay’s Array Filmworks, overseeing all areas of physical production for the company’s television and feature film slate. Garnes’ collaboration with DuVernay began in 2011 and includes her films Middle of Nowhere and Selma, as well as her television projects Queen Sugar and Cherish The Day. Garnes has also served as a producer, line producer and production manager on films and television series for Disney, Dreamworks, HBO, ABC, NBC, BET, Sony/Screen Gems, Magnolia and Paramount Pictures.
A graduate of Chicago's Columbia College, Garnes has worked as Vice President of Operations and Production for Foxx/King Productions, Head of Production for Simmons-Lathan Media Group and served as Vice President and Executive in Charge of Production for the Tyler Perry Company, supervising over 250 episodes of broadcast television while at the studio.
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 various 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.
Eric Kripke is the creator, executive producer and showrunner of Amazon’s series The Boys, based on the award-winning comic by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson. Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and Neal Moritz also serve as executive producers on the project. The pilot episode was directed by 10 Cloverfield Lane director Dan Trachtenberg while Kripke directed the season one finale.
Kripke also served as co-creator, executive producer and co-showrunner of the NBC time travel adventure series, Timeless, along with Shawn Ryan.
Previously, Kripke served as creator, executive producer and showrunner of NBC’s hit drama Revolution, (produced by JJ Abrams’ Bad Robot, with the pilot directed by The Lion King director Jon Favreau) and the long-running CW series Supernatural, recently given a fifteenth season, which makes it the longest running genre show in American history. Prior to that, Kripke wrote and executive produced The WB series Tarzan.
A Virginia native, Television Academy Foundation Internship alum, and Yale University graduate, Albert Lawrence is a media entrepreneur and TV personality with 12+ years of journalism and production experience. He currently serves as a technology correspondent for CBS' Emmy®-winning educational program Innovation Nation, a producer/host for the Amazon Live talk-show Night Light with Albert Lawrence, a film/TV correspondent for IMDb’s video series, and a producer/host for the BL Perspectives digital series that explores the relationship between pop culture and social issues. He created/hosts a series about diverse career opportunities for The Walt Disney Company called Working With, and he's contributed to specials for the Oscars, Emmys, and Comic-Con. As an actor/filmmaker, his short film Theo's Trade received honors at the National Black Film Festival and the Chicago Independent Film Festival.
Albert works with the Television Academy Foundation, the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, and the United Negro College Fund to support students as they construct their dream careers and contribute to the goals of others. He also enjoys emceeing national fundraising events for organizations like UNICEF, AVON 39: The Walk to End Breast Cancer, and Equinox’s Cycle for Survival.
Craig Mazin is the Golden Globe, BAFTA and two-time Emmy® Award-winning creator, writer and executive producer of the HBO limited series Chernobyl, for which he also won a Writers Guild, Producers Guild and Peabody Award. In addition to his work in television, Craig has written numerous hit feature films, which have grossed over one billion dollars in theaters worldwide.
Currently, Mazin is writing and producing a number of projects for HBO, including an adaptation of the acclaimed video game series The Last of Us.
Craig can be heard each week on the popular screenwriting podcast Scriptnotes, which he co-hosts with fellow writer John August.
Ryan O’Connell is an Emmy®-nominated and Writers Guild Award-winning writer, actor, and producer who can currently be seen starring in the critically acclaimed Special, a four-time Emmy®-nominated and Writers Guild Award-winning short form series on Netflix, which he wrote and executive produced. O’Connell also received a Special Recognition Award from GLAAD Award and a Visibility Award from the HRC. Special, which is also executive produced by Jim Parsons, is loosely based on O’Connell’s own upbringing and experience as a gay man navigating the world with cerebral palsy and is set to return later in 2021 for its highly anticipated second and final season. In what became a cultural phenomenon, Special premiered to rave reviews, with critics calling the show, “The television revolution you didn’t know you needed” (Romero, Refinery29) and “A rare, important perspective to TV” (Maple, Bustle). Fans around the world praised the series for its refreshing, honest, and long-overdue portrayal of a gay man living with cerebral palsy.
Next, O’Connell will re-team with Jim Parsons, Todd Spiewak and That’s Wonderful Productions to create the HBO Max original series, Accessible, which will follow Clare, a 15-year-old girl who's recently been in an accident and is forced to attend a boarding school for people with all kinds of disabilities while coping with the usual teenage dilemmas. The series will be another landmark milestone for representation for the disabled community.
O’Connell is also an accomplished, sought-after writer and his voice is both refreshing and unique. He is the author of I’m Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves, part-memoir, part-manifesto which was published by Simon & Schuster in 2015 to widespread praise. O’Connell’s forthcoming debut novel Just By Looking At Him will be published in Spring 2022 by Atria, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Additionally, O’Connell served as the Editor of Thought Catalog and has contributed to Vice, BuzzFeed, and numerous other publications. O’Connell’s writing career spans television as well. He previously served on the writing staff on NBC’s revival of Will & Grace, MTV’s Awkward, and Netflix’s The Baby-Sitters Club.
Daria Overby is Executive Director of Creative Diversity and Inclusion for Starz. She serves as strategic partner and ambassador in supporting and executing the company’s ongoing commitment to Inclusive Culture.
Ms. Overby leads the company in all facets of creative diversity outreach, providing opportunities for the underrepresented voices via events and activities that showcase our diverse creative talent. She has developed a strong network with other studios, programs, and creative talent including writers, directors, industry organizations, guilds and advocacy groups. Overby creates, establishes and oversees the talent diversity program by collecting, screening and managing the submissions process and procedures.
Prior to joining Starz in 2015, Overby served as Comedy Development Director and VP of Talent Relations for Home Box Office.
Ashley Park originated and starred as ‘Gretchen Wieners’ in Mean Girls on Broadway in 2018, which garnered her a Tony Award nomination, as well as Drama League, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and Chita Rivera Award nominations. In the same season, she starred in the award winning KPOP and won the esteemed Lucille Lortel award for Lead Actress in a Musical, and second Drama League and Drama Desk nominations. Park originated the national tour of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella as stepsister 'Gabrielle,’ was Lincoln Center Theater's ‘Tuptim' in the Tony-Award-winning Broadway revival of The King and I, appeared in Broadway's recent revival of Stephen Sondheim's Sunday in the Park With George, and made her Broadway debut in MAMMA MIA!.
Outside of theatre, Park can most recently be seen in the Golden Globe-nominated series Emily in Paris, starring opposite Lily Collins. Created, executive-produced, and written by Darren Star, the show centers on Emily Cooper (Collins) who moves from Midwestern America to Paris for an unexpected job opportunity. She befriends au pair and fellow expatriate Mindy Chen (Park) who helps her navigate her new life abroad. The 10-episode, half-hour series premiered exclusively on Netflix on October 2, 2020. Emily in Paris was renewed for a second season shortly after its debut, which will begin production in 2021. Park was individually nominated for a Critics Choice Award and MTV Movie & TV Awards on behalf of her role in Emily in Paris.
Up next, Park can be seen in the Peacock comedy series Girls5Eva, executive produced by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock. She is set to star in a recurring role as ‘Ashley,’ and other members of the cast include Sara Bareilles, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Paula Pell, and Busy Philipps. Girls5eva kicks off when a one-hit-wonder girl group from the ’90s gets sampled by a young rapper and its members reunite to give their pop-star dreams one more shot. The series will release on Peacock on May 6, 2021.
Gil L. Robertson IV knows firsthand how words and images enlighten, uplift and empower. As an entertainment journalist, the one-time political organizer excelled, penning over 50 national magazine covers, contributing bylines to a wide range of publications, including the Los Angeles Times, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Billboard, Fortune, Essence and Ebony, as well as launching his own nationally syndicated arts and lifestyle column, The Robertson Treatment, with a reach of nearly two million.
His many books, including the resource guide Writing As A Tool of Empowerment, the anthologies Not In My Family: AIDS in the African American Community, Family Affair: What It Means to Be African American Today and Where Did Our Love Go: Love and Relationships in the African American Community and Book of Black Heroes: Political Leaders Past & Present, raise issues of critical importance to the Black community.
In his critical role leading the African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA), the largest collection of Black film critics in North America known for its diversity and inclusion advocacy work within the industry as well as the AAFCA Awards and other programs celebrating Black excellence, the Cal State alum continues his successful track record as both a change agent and thought leader. As a public ambassador for diversity within the industry, Robertson appears on television regularly and lectures nationally on such issues as fostering diverse representation in the entertainment industry.