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Panelists include Victoria Alonso, Lisa Cortés, Debra Martin Chase, Carmen Cuba, Lee Daniels,
DeVon Franklin, Whoopi Goldberg, Nadia Hallgren, Franklin Leonard,
Delroy Lindo, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Bao Nguyen, Dawn Porter, Gina Prince-Bythewood,
Ivette Rodriguez, Bird Runningwater, Misan Sagay, Bryan Stevenson, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Ligiah Villalobos, Lulu Wang, Emil Wilbekin and Roger Ross Williams

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recently announced the launch of a new series of virtual panels for members and the public, as a part of its Academy Aperture 2025 equity and inclusion initiative, called Academy Dialogues: It Starts with Us,” with conversations about race, ethnicity, gender, history, opportunity and the art of filmmaking.  These discussions focus on the industry-wide systemic changes that are needed to afford greater opportunities to women and people from underrepresented ethnic/racial communities and to create a new narrative for recovery. 

“With our ‘Academy Dialogues’ series, the Academy is creating a space for our members – and the public – to talk about inclusion in a way that is timely, relevant and allows for a meaningful exchange on how to bring systemic change to Hollywood,” said Lorenza Muñoz, EVP, Member Relations and Awards.  “These conversations may be uncomfortable for some, but they are necessary to broaden the stories that are getting told and increase opportunities for those who have been excluded.”

Academy Dialogues: “The Power of Narrative”
The first presentation in this ongoing series, “The Power of Narrative,” took place on July 21 for Academy members and featured a live conversation between Academy governor Whoopi Goldberg and civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative.  They discussed the role of narrative storytelling in addressing racial and ethnic inequity and touched upon the lasting impact of racist tropes and harmful stereotypes in Hollywood films.  This conversation is now available on Academy's YouTube.

Academy Dialogues: “Native Son”
The Academy will present a conversation with Oscar®-nominated director Lee Daniels (“Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”) and Oscar-winning writer Tarell Alvin McCraney (“Moonlight”) about their personal and professional journeys navigating the film industry as Black gay men.  Emil Wilbekin, media executive and founder of Native Son, a networking group for professional Black gay men, will moderate the discussion.  Available on Academy's YouTube on August 27.

Academy Dialogues: “Owning Our Stories”
Bird Runningwater, director of the Indigenous Program at the Sundance Institute, will moderate a conversation with writers Misan Sagay (“Belle”) and Ligiah Villalobos (“Under the Same Moon”) and filmmakers Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers (“The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open”) and Lulu Wang (“The Farewell”) on the role that gatekeeping at the studios and production companies has played in preventing authentic stories from being told.  Available on Academy's YouTube on September 3.

Academy Dialogues: “The Erasure of Latinos in Hollywood”
Latinos are the largest ethnic group in the United States, representing 18% of the population, and yet – whether it is in front of the camera, behind the camera or in executive positions – they are largely missing from America’s storytelling.  Moderated by Muñoz, this discussion will explore identity, the complexity of being Latin, the legacies of colonialism, and, most importantly, solutions for inclusion.  Panelists include Executive Vice President, Production, Marvel Studios Victoria Alonso, casting director Carmen Cuba (“The Martian”), director Nadia Hallgren (“Becoming”), and founder/president, American Entertainment Marketing and co-founder, LA Collab Ivette Rodriguez.  Available on Academy's YouTube on September 10.

Academy Dialogues: “Documentaries Through Our Own Lens”
Although the field of talented documentarians is among the most diverse in the entertainment industry, opportunities to tell their stories continue to be a challenge for people from underrepresented racial and ethnic communities.  Academy governor and Oscar winner Roger Ross Williams (“The Apollo”) will moderate a panel with fellow documentary directors Lisa Cortés (“All In: The Fight for Democracy”), James LeBrecht (co-directed and co-produced “Crip Camp” with Nicole Newham), Bao Nguyen (“Be Water”), and Dawn Porter (“John Lewis: Good Trouble”). Available on Academy's YouTube on September 17.

Academy Dialogues: “Color-Conscious Casting”
Historically, Hollywood casting decisions have limited the opportunities for actors of color to go beyond stereotyped characters and minor roles. Since the use of blackface in “classic” films, there remains a ripple effect in hiring practices. Elvis Mitchell, film critic and host of the KCRW radio show “The Treatment,” moderates a panel with Academy governor and director/writer Rodrigo García (“Mother and Child”), and casting directors Julia Kim (“The Last Black Man in San Francisco”) and Victoria Thomas (“Once upon a Time…in Hollywood”). Can a renewed creative collaboration between casting directors and filmmakers offer a tremendous opportunity to better reflect the world on screen as it truly is today? Available on Academy's YouTube on September 24.

Academy Dialogues: “ICON MANN: We Are the Culture”
This dialogue focuses on The Academy’s Black membership and the challenges of being successful in a system that was designed to be exclusionary. Actor Delroy Lindo (“Da 5 Bloods”), filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood (“The Old Guard”), and Oscar-winning filmmaker T.J. Martin (“LA92”), will discuss how Black artists break through barriers and truly realize the power and meaning behind the saying, “We are the culture. Nothing moves without us.” Moderated by Shawn Finnie, Associate Director of Member Relations and Outreach. Available on the Academy's YouTube on October 1st.

Academy Dialogues: “ How Would Gender Parity Change Hollywood?”
Anita Hill (“Anita: Speaking Truth to Power”), chair of the Hollywood Commission, and Professor at Brandeis University, Heller School for Social Policy and Management, moderates this conversation with Oscar-winning actor Geena Davis (“A League of Their Own”), award-winning filmmaker Alma Har’el (“Honey Boy”), and Academy governor Laura Karpman about their personal journey to becoming agents of change. By founding organizations that collect information and bring networks of women together, they have brought attention to glaring issues of inequality impacting women. In their discussion, they explore how women of all ages see themselves depicted in the far-reaching world of movies, and how to bring more role models on screen and behind the camera. Available on Academy's YouTube on October 8.

Academy Dialogues: “Owning Your Brand”
Academy governor and producer, DeVon Franklin (“Breakthrough”), producer Debra Martin Chase (“Harriet”) and Franklin Leonard, founder of the Black List, discuss their journey of finding success outside of the traditional Hollywood system. What is the importance of having a vision, investing in yourself, and building a business brand by taking control to tell new and authentic stories? Available on Academy's YouTube on October 15.

Academy Dialogues: “Broadening the Aperture of Excellence”
Does Hollywood have a comfort zone when it comes to culture? This discussion, moderated by Oscar-nominated filmmaker, founder of ARRAY and Academy governor Ava DuVernay (“Selma”) and featuring filmmakers Julie Dash (“Daughters of the Dust”) and Euzhan Palcy (“Sugar Cane Alley”), will examine whether there is an objective form of measurement in the arts, and how the Hollywood system can broaden its aperture to appreciate storytelling from the worldviews of different ethnic and racial communities. Available on the Academy's YouTube on October 22.

“Academy Dialogues: It Starts with Us” is part of Academy Aperture 2025, the next phase of the Academy’s equity and inclusion initiative furthering the organization’s ongoing efforts to advance inclusion in the entertainment industry and increase representation within its membership and the greater film community.

For program information and talent updates for the “Academy Dialogues” series, visit


 The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a global community of more than 10,000 of the most accomplished artists, filmmakers and executives working in film. In addition to celebrating and recognizing excellence in filmmaking through the Oscars, the Academy supports a wide range of initiatives to promote the art and science of the movies, including public programming, educational outreach and the upcoming Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which is under construction in Los Angeles.