THE HOLLYWOOD DIVERSITY ASSOCIATION'S 

MONTHLY MEETINGS

 

Meet and Network with Industry Movers and Shakers March 23, 2017, 7:30PM,                Raleigh Studio, 5300 Melrose Ave., Hollywood, CA 90038

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Network With Film and Television Industry Experts

Every month meet like minded individuals and expand your opportunities.

  • Network with like-minded film and television experts
  • Meet contacts face-to-face
  • Find industry partners to promote your talent and or projects
  • Get away from your computer and meet people who can help you
  • Showcase your talent and or projects on the HDA talent app

The HDA Meeting Is Thursday, March 23rd - 6PM-9PM ( starts at 7:30PM) Raleigh Studios, 5300 Melrose Ave., Hollywood, CA 90038

ABOUT THE MONTHLY SPEAKERS SERIES

The Hollywood Diversity Association (HDA) host monthly meetings that feature guest speakers from every aspect of the film and television industry. The monthly speakers series are designed to provide insight into the inner-workings of Hollywood both in-front and behind the scenes. Hollywood Diversity Association membership (FREE) is required and a $20 donation is encouraged.

MARCH 2017 MEETING: ACTION! THE DIRECTOR'S CUT 

Hollywood Diversity Association

Directors are the true storytellers of film. They do not create the story, act it out, or record it, but it is their voice that echoes through the film and their style that is showcased. They must have a profound insight into every aspect of the film world, bringing all pieces together to create a unique and original piece of art. Join us Thursday, March 23rd at 7:30pm at The Barnsdall Gallery Theatre in Los Angeles, CA for "ACTION! The Director’s Cut: The Director’s Guide to Making Your Project a HUGE Hollywood Success” to learn from some of the most successful Directors themselves.

Bill Duke / Duke Media Entertainment

Duke Media Entertainment, led by actor, director, producer, writer and humanitarian, Bill Duke, is dedicated to bringing quality Edutainment to audiences around the globe. Formerly Yagya Productions, Duke Media has successfully produced critically acclaimed film and television content for more than 30 years. Additionally, Duke Media is in process of expanding the brand to involve itself in the development of new media technologies, i.e. cellphone apps, games, and virtual world experiences. Since the early 70s, Bill Duke along with industry veterans Michael Shultz and Gordon Parks, have long paved the way for African Americans in the industry.

Mr. Duke excels in front of and behind the camera. His acting and directing credits are extensive and include stints on such ground-breaking television series as Falcon Crest, Fame, Hill Street Blues, Knotts Landing, Dallas, and New York Undercover. His feature credits include Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, Get Rich or Die Trying, Deep Cover, Hoodlum, Predator, Menace II Society and Not Easily Broken, to name a few. He has recently completed production on, Blexicans, a new television pilot that takes a comedic look at a mixed-race family. His documentaries, Dark Girls and Light Girls, both NAACP Image Award nominees, aired on OWN and were two of the most successful documentaries on the network.

Sallie Richardson-Whitfield

Salli Richardson-Whitfield is an industry veteran of over 30 years. She is featured in over 20 major motion pictures and starred opposite a number of Hollywood’s top actors, including Samuel L. Jackson in The Great White Hype, Denzel Washington in Antwone Fisher, and Will Smith in I Am Legend. Salli also lent her voice to the cult classic cartoon, Gargoyles, and had a featured arc in Aaron Sorkin’s HBO show, The Newsroom. She is best known for starring in the Syfy network’s hit series Eureka, where she also directed two episodes.

After starting her directing career on Eureka, she directed back-to-back episodes of the new Ava Duvernay OWN series, Queen Sugar, an episode of Shadowhunters for Freeform, and an episode of Underground for WGN. In 2017, you’ll be able to see more of Salli’s directing work with two episodes of the BET series, Rebel, an episode of STARZ’s Survivor’s Remorse, an episode of ABC’s Scandal, and an episode of Freeform’s Stitchers where she’ll also return to her starring role for the third season as well.

 

 

Carl Seaton

Carl Seaton, born in Chicago, grew up with a strong affinity for movies and television shows. The meteoric rise of the VCR turned his affinity for movies in to a full-blown addiction. Carl’s addiction led him to Columbia College Film School where he studied the crafts of Directing and Screenwriting. The creative environment at Columbia allowed Carl to flourish where he graduated with Honors. Carl’s first feature film, One Week, was a drama about a heterosexual man that must wait a week for the results of an HIV test as he prepares for his wedding. The ultra-low budget film screened all over the world in prestigious festivals like the Toronto International Film Festival, and Fespaco. One Week also garnered awards at several film festivals including the American Black Film Festival, Urbanworld, and the Chicago International Film Festival.

One Week went on to obtain theatrical distribution and obtained the highest per screen average of any film in release its opening weekend. The film also became a centerpiece for discussion regarding HIV in the African American Community. The Sorority of Delta Sigma Theta embraced the film and bestowed Carl with the Lillian Benbow Award for community Outreach. One Week still screens on several cable outlets. Following the success of One Week, Carl co-wrote a screenplay, Step In The Name Of Love, that was acquired by MGM. Next up for Carl was the family drama, Of Boys and Men, starring Angela Bassett and Robert Townsend.

 

Trey Haley / President Tri Destined Studios

Trey Haley is the President of Tri Destined Studios. He is responsible for overseeing the implementation all of Tri Destined Studios productions and creating diverse partnerships. As a Director, he has several films being released in 2017... they include ‘The Preacher’s Son’ (Now exclusively on Netflix) starring Christian Keyes, Drew Sidora, Valarie Pettiford, Clifton Powell, Kellita Smith and Vanessa Bell Calloway. The mystery/thriller ‘Woman On The Edge’ starring Rumer Willis and 'A Mothers Sacrifice' starring Kristy Swanson both set to premiere on Lifetime, the indie action thriller ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy,’ starring Luke Goss, LisaRaye McCoy and the ‘The Choir Director’ (sequel to ‘The Preacher’s Son’). He is also a Co-Executive Producer on the Rom-Com 'Couples Night' Starring Charles Malik Whitfield, Reagan Gomez, Tony Rock, & Denise Boutte.

Trey’s thriller ‘The Man in 3B’ starring Lamman Rucker, DB Woodside, Billy Dee Williams, Christian Keyes, Robert Ri’chard, and Brely Evans to name a few, had a limited theatrical release November of 2015 and is currently experiencing a successful run on BET (one of the top films aired on BET in 2016). ‘The Man in 3B’ and ‘The Preacher’s Son’ are based on New York Times Bestselling novels written by Carl Weber and produced by Tri Destined Studios & Urban Books Media LLC.

Jeff Byrd / Director/Writer and Producer

A native of Brooklyn NY, Jeff Byrd is a protégé of Auteur and visionary Spike Lee. Jeff started his film career by working on several of Lee’s films including “Mo’ Better Blues”, “Jungle Fever”, and “Malcolm X”. Spike actually loaned Jeff the equipment to make his first music video. In the past fifteen years, Jeff has emerged on the directing scene in Hollywood. To his credit, Jeff has directed well over one hundred plus music videos. Just to name a few there is the Nas “Nastradamus” music video which was the first ever 3D hip hop music video. The Nas video has the distinction of being added to the Guinness Book of World records due to the first time nature of the use of the 3D medium in hip hop. Bone Thugs and Harmony “Paper”, Naughty By Nature “Jamboree”, Gangstarr “The Militia”, and countless commercials, episodic television as well as feature films.

Jeff got his first theatrical break when he wrote and directed his award winning short film “Breakdown”. After claiming the first place prize at the American Black Film Festival, Jeff grabbed the attention of many television and film executives. Jeff scored a two year development deal with HBO that spawned two scripts. The first was the autobiography of author James Baldwin, which Jeff wrote solely. Second was a script entitled “Invictus”, a drama set in the world of black greek fraternities and sororities. That script he co-penned with writing partner Eric George. Both scripts were well received by HBO.

Don B. Welch

A Renaissance Man is how a newspaper journalist described the talents of Donald Welch. He is an accomplished singer, actor, writer, director, playwright, producer and now author. Hailing from Philadelphia, PA, Donald began his professional career as a singer at the age of 15. In the year 2000, Donald, at the urging of his superstar friend and fellow Philadelphian Will Smith, decided to relocate to Los Angeles to pursue further endeavors in the entertainment industry. Will immediately lent a helping hand by setting up various meetings with industry moguls and introducing Donald to the day-to-day mechanics of television...

As an actor, he has co-starring roles on "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air," "The Cosby Show," several independent films and served as a celebrity judge for "The Miss America Pageant" in 2000 and 2004 for ABC television, co-judging with Judge Judy, and Fox TV’s Greta Van Susseran.

NOVEMBER 2016 MEETING: THE PITCH

The Hollywood Diversity Association (HDA) host monthly meetings that feature guest speakers from every aspect of the film and television industry. The monthly speakers series are designed to provide insight into the inner-workings of Hollywood both in-front and behind the scenes. Hollywood Diversity Association membership (FREE) is required and a $20 donation is encouraged.


Even the best projects are doomed to fail if they are not pitched in a way to ensure success. The Hollywood Diversity Association's November event "The Pitch: The Studio/Network Executives' Guide to Getting the Green Light!” will feature top executives from America's top television networks. Reserve your seat now and learn from Hollywood's top industry experts.

Robyn Lattaker-Johnson / Moderator / HDA Advisory Board Member

Robyn Lattaker-Johnson is a dynamic leader and creatively collaborative television executive responsible for developing and shepherding top-rated franchises for multiple networks. With over 20 years in entertainment spanning film, television, casting, physical production, development and current programming, Robyn Lattaker-Johnson has experience built across many disciplines, as well as razor-sharp creative instincts. Her expertise as a TV executive includes developing content in all genres of unscripted and reality-based programming, packaging star talent and authentic voices on both sides of the camera, as well as managing and motivating “work-smart” development teams. Robyn has also cultivated scripted, animation and feature properties. This hands-on and bustling background led Robyn to starting her own television management and consulting company where she assists producers, production companies, on-camera talent and networks with the development or acquisition of creative content, packaging, linear and/or digital distribution, branded entertainment partnerships and business planning. Robyn also manages a select roster of show runners, directors, composers, casting producers, production companies and unscripted content creators.

 

Austyn Biggers / Consulting Producer

Austyn Biggers most recently served as the Sr. Director of Development for BET Networks, where he was involved in all facets of original series development and production. Austyn lead a development team that concentrated on internal development and in- house production, as well as third-party productions. During his time at BET, the network saw the implementation of scripted programs, new tent pole events, digital series and a double-digit increase in ratings. Austyn’s BET credits include Baldwin Hills, College Hill, Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is, First In, Being Terry Kennedy, Born To Dance: Laurieann Gibson, Tiny & Toya, Let’s Stay Together, Hot Chocolate Nutcracker, House of Bodies, Party The Wright Way, The Sheards, The Xperiment, Curvy Style with Timothy Snell, and Criminals at Work and many others. Austyn has developed over 60 pilots and presentations for BET, Centric, News, and .Com while serving at BET NETWORKS. Prior to October, 2008 Austyn was the VP of Development for SokoLobl Entertainment. In addition to his role with SokoLobl, Austyn provided freelance development, casting, and production services for other production companies and networks including Go Go Luckey, Ripe Digital, Ryan Seacrest Productions, E! Networks, CMT, Oxygen, Style, and MTV. Over the last 10 years, Austyn has worked in virtually every aspect of television production, from development to field to post. He has developed and produced formats for TV, the internet, shorts, film, and mobile apps. Originally from Nashville, TN, Austyn attended Florida State University and has called Atlanta, New York and London home before settling down in L.A. Austyn volunteers with several organizations including those related to HIV/AIDS, Women and Men’s Cancer, and Domestic Abuse. He is also a strong advocate for animal rights and encourages everyone he knows to adopt their next pet.

Jamila Hunter / ABC Network Comedy

Jamila Hunter was named Senior Vice President of ABC Network Comedy in October of 2016, after serving as Vice President since October 2011. In this position, she oversees the production and development of new comedy series. In her first year at the Disney owned network, Jamila supervised Tim Allen’s return to broadcast television, “Last Man Standing,” which is in its sixth season. She worked on critically acclaimed returning series “black-ish” and “Fresh Off the Boat”as well as the primetime Muppet series and the TV adaptation of “Uncle Buck” starring Mike Epps and Nia Long. Prior to ABC, Jamila was a key member of the creative team that launched OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network and Senior Vice President of Alternative and Digital Programming at NBC Entertainment. With an emphasis on developing unscripted comedies at NBC, Jamila shepherded projects that marked the return to network television of two high-profile comedians, Jerry Seinfeld (“The Marriage Ref”) and Rosie O’Donnell (“Rosie Live!”). In addition to her primetime development duties, Jamila worked closely with NBC’s digital studio to target writers, directors and talent for their original internet series.Jam

Lamar Chase / Director of Programming & Production / TV ONE

Lamar Chase is a respected executive with nearly a decade of experience in the entertainment industry including television and music. Known for his strong relationships with producers, directors, talent, agents, network and studio executives, Lamar is a successful executive admired for both his creative and business instincts. Lamar currently serves as Director, of Programming & Production at TV One. As an instrumental part of the programming and production team, he is charged with developing and overseeing a slate of the network’s original content per year, including series, movies, and specials. His duties also include selecting production companies, taking pitches, and identifying projects, programming trends, and formats that maximize audience viewership. Several of the projects that he has brought into the network have proven to be great successes, including the hit franchises “R&B Divas”, and “Hollywood Divas”, “Lisa Raye: The Real McCoy”, and “I Married A Baller”. Lamar has also served a vital role in the development and production of the network’s scripted series and has produced on 15 original films. His experience in music has helped guide the network’s top rated music show “Unsung”, as well as “Remembering the Time: A Michael Jackson Tribute”, and “The Essence Music Festival” concert specials. Lamar has also developed and monetized the network’s multi-platform programming strategy including traditional Video On Demand, and streaming Video On Demand.

Endyia Kinney-Sterns / OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network

Endyia Kinney-Sterns is an accomplished television producer and network executive with over 20 years of entertainment television experience. Named one of the “Top Female Executives in Hollywood” by Essence Magazine, Kinney-Sterns has been instrumental in identifying and developing various new programming for various networks. Most recently as Vice President of Development and Programming for OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Kinney-Sterns was responsible for overseeing day-to-day development of new original programming including popular docu-series “Raising Whitley” and “Deion's Family Playbook.” She was an integral part in developing the new hit series “Flex and Shanice” in addition to many presentations and pilots. As an accomplished television producer and executive, Kinney-Sterns has over 15 years of entertainment television experience producing shows for high-profile networks including VH1, CBS, NBC, HGTV and production companies such as Buena Vista Television, Arnold Shapiro Productions and LMNO. Kinney-Sterns held the title of senior director of programming and development for TV ONE, where she was responsible for the day-to-day supervision of production and programming for popular series including “Baisden After Dark,” “Who's Got Jokes” and “Black and Men Revealed.” Her most notable accomplishment was co-developing and co-creating the brand defining, multiple NAACP Award winning hit show “Unsung".

HDA Monthly Meeting Venue

Raleigh Studios Hollywood, 5300 Melrose Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90038

OCTOBER 2016 MEETING /COMEDY: A SERIOUS BUSINESS 

Luenell / Actress / Comedian

Luenell is a force of nature. Best known for her breakthrough role as the “hooker with the heart of gold” in the blockbuster comedy “BORAT”, as well as her two-year tour and DVD appearances with Katt Williams, Luenell has appeared in the blockbusters “Think Like A Man”, the 3D animated hit “Hotel Transylvania”, "Taken 2" and the hilarious adult comedy “That’s My Boy” with Adam Sandler. She starred on “Snoop Dog’s Bad Girls of Comedy” and “Comedy Underground with Dave Attell” on Comedy Central. More recent feature film releases include "Think Like A Man Too”, “Hotel Transylvania 2” and "School Dance" directed by Nick Cannon. Luenell recently shot Interscope TV Presents “Screem Break” and the ABC Television pilot “The Fluffy Shop.”

Chris Spencer / Producer / Comedian

It's hard to keep a straight face when talking to Chris Spencer. Extremely talented and hilarious, this quick-witted funnyman began his stint in the entertainment industry at the age of six as a star in a national television commercial for Mattel's Tuff Stuff Toys. Today, his resume ranges across several sectors of the industry, with more than thirty television commercials; nine feature films, numerous television show appearances, a published book and nationwide comedy tours. Chris is the creator and executive producer on the hit fake reality series for BET “ Real Husbands of Hollywood, ” which premiered to rave reviews and huge numbers in January 2013. The series, which is in its third year, is a hilarious twist on the Real Housewives series, stars Kevin Hart, JB Smoove, Nelly, Nick Cannon, Duane Martin and Boris Kodjoe. What makes it more than great is that every episode is always peppered with numerous heavy hitting guest stars such as Chris Rock, Katie Couric, Conan O’Brien and Wanda Sykes to name a few. The show is entirely based on a sketch Spencer created for the BET Awards in 2011 that immediately went viral.

Kim Coles /Actress / Comedienne /Speaker/ Author / Host

Actress, comedienne, author, playwright, producer and TV personality KIM COLES is truly a renaissance woman. Best known for her zany characters and outrageous sense of humor, KIM COLES began her journey to Hollywood when she was announced the runner-up in the “Big Beautiful Woman” pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey. She rode her beauty pageant success into a plus-size modeling career and began performing as a stand-up comedienne, which ultimately turned into a showbiz career that has continued to skyrocket. Best known for her five-season turn as the unforgettable “Synclaire” on FOX’s ground-breaking comedy series, Living Single, KIM COLES has starred in numerous hit television programs including Frasier, Six Feet Under, In Living Color, One on One and the uproarious TBS comedy series 10 Items Or Less. She was the co-host of the nationally syndicated daytime talk show, In the Loop with iVillage and has been a guest co-host for various shows, including The View, The Talk and Good Day Live. She was the host of BET’s My Black is Beautiful, a show that was part of a national initiative sponsored by Proctor & Gamble celebrating the diverse, collective beauty of African- American women. Also known to reality audiences, KIM COLES has also appeared on The Mole and VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club. KIM later added game show host to her extensive resume with BET’s groundbreaking show Pay it Off, becoming the first African-American woman to host a primetime game show. She added game show host to her resume once again as the co-host of “Are You Normal, America?” on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).

HDA Monthly Meeting Venue

The Barnsdall Gallery and Theatre

 SEPTEMBER 2016 MEETING:  THE ROLE OF A LIFETIME

Victoria Rowell / Actress / Producer / Advocate

Victoria Rowell is an award-winning actress, international lecturer, holds two doctorates - a teacher, advocate, mother, and former foster youth. She has been recognized by 193 members of Congress for advocacy work on behalf of education, arts, foster and adoptive youth and parents as well as diversity issues. Her New York Times bestseller, The Women Who Raised Me, published by HarperCollins Publishers, received literary acclaim. Rowell also enjoys a literary book deal with Simon & Schuster for her popular soap opera novel series. Rowell is an Emmy-nominated, NAACP-winning actress, who co-starred with Dick Van Dyke in the prime time television series Diagnosis Murder for VIACOM for eight seasons, as well as starring in Daytime television. Rowell was submitted for a Golden Globe Award, starring opposite Samuel L. Jackson in Home of the Brave. Other credits include Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and other series. She stars in the movie, Marry Me For Christmas and an upcoming feature, What Love Will Make You Do. She has been in multiple films, starring opposite Jim Carrey, Eddie Murphy, Will Smith, Jeff Bridges,Samuel L. Jackson, Beau Bridges, Forest Whitaker and more.

Dorian Wilson / Actor

Wilson played the role of Professor Stanley Oglevee on the UPN sitcom The Parkers and as talk- show host Eddie Charles on HBO's series Dream On. He had a recurring role as Terrence on Sister, Sister. He also played Warrington Steele on The Steve Harvey Show and co-starred alongside Sherman Hemsley on the short-lived sitcom Goode Behavior. He has appeared mostly in television roles but appeared in a few film roles as well. He co-starred in House Party 4: Down to the Last Minute in 2001 and had a bit part as a doctor in the 2004 film You Got Served. Wilson appeared in Disney Channel's series That's So Raven as "Mad Money Mitch" with the Mighty Mega Mix, "Mad Miguel at Mid-night" on the Spanish Station, and "Mad Money Mitch" with the Good Ole' Country Hits. He is also mentioned in Katt Williams' Pimp Chronicles Pt. 1. He appeared on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air as Juggles the clown strapped with a bomb and holding Judge Banks hostage; he appeared on the sitcom Martin as a theatre producer; and he made a couple of appearances as a pastor on the sitcom Living Single. He also had an appearance in Tyler Perry's House of Payne as Cassi Davis' college love-interest. Dorien was also Chandler's Boss on the hit TV Show Friends. In the 1980s Dorien was a resident Actor of CTC—California Theatre Center—in Sunnyvale, CA. He was also an Acting Conservatory Teacher at CTC. After recognizing her former teacher—Dorien Wilson—on Friends & various other shows, one of his CTC students from the 1980s, Anita Fortner Jones, who played his daughter— Fezziwig Sister, among other roles—for 2 Seasons in the stage play of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," created the Dorien Wilson Fan Club. He has also appeared in a KFC commercial for boneless chicken

Kim Coles /Actress / Comedienne /Speaker/ Author / Host

Actress, comedienne, author, playwright, producer and TV personality KIM COLES is truly a renaissance woman. Best known for her zany characters and outrageous sense of humor, KIM COLES began her journey to Hollywood when she was announced the runner-up in the “Big Beautiful Woman” pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey. She rode her beauty pageant success into a plus-size modeling career and began performing as a stand-up comedienne, which ultimately turned into a showbiz career that has continued to skyrocket. Best known for her five-season turn as the unforgettable “Synclaire” on FOX’s ground-breaking comedy series, Living Single, KIM COLES has starred in numerous hit television programs including Frasier, Six Feet Under, In Living Color, One on One and the uproarious TBS comedy series 10 Items Or Less. She was the co-host of the nationally syndicated daytime talk show, In the Loop with iVillage and has been a guest co-host for various shows, including The View, The Talk and Good Day Live. She was the host of BET’s My Black is Beautiful, a show that was part of a national initiative sponsored by Proctor & Gamble celebrating the diverse, collective beauty of African- American women. Also known to reality audiences, KIM COLES has also appeared on The Mole and VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club. KIM later added game show host to her extensive resume with BET’s groundbreaking show Pay it Off, becoming the first African-American woman to host a primetime game show. She added game show host to her resume once again as the co-host of “Are You Normal, America?” on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).

Reginald VelJohnson / Actor

VelJohnson is known for playing police officers in films and on television. In Ghostbusters, he had a brief appearance as a jail guard, and in Crocodile Dundee, he plays a limo driver. VelJohnson played Sgt. Al Powell in the 1988 hit Die Hard and later reprised the character in the 1990 sequel Die Hard 2, albeit in a much smaller role. He also portrayed a yelling apartment resident for promoting Instant Lottery games for a Michigan Lottery commercial in 1988. VelJohnson also played a police officer alongside Tom Hanks in Turner & Hooch (1989). Johnson was cast as Carl Winslow in the sitcom Family Matters alongside Jo Marie Payton, who played his wife Harriette Winslow, a recurring character on that series, which he starred in until 1998. He also had a minor role in the 2002 film Like Mike. VelJohnson replayed his role of Sgt. Al Powell in the Gamecube video game title, Die Hard: Vendetta, also in 2002. In 2004, he took the title role in the off-Broadway show She all Dat! (playing "she"). Since the end of Family Matters, besides making a few guest appearances on TV shows, VelJohnson has done mostly theater work. He wrote a critically acclaimed series of short stories called Division Street. [citation needed] One of them, called Sunday Evening Haircut, was made into a short film in 2005, which starred VelJohnson himself, alongside Kiki Shepard.

HDA Monthly Meeting Venue

The Barnsdall Gallery and Theatre

 AUGUST 2016 MEETING:  THE AUDITION

Leah Daniels-Butler / Casting Director / Producer

Leah Daniels-Butler is a casting director and producer responsible for launching the careers of talented actors like Gaborey Sidebe, star of the Academy Award winning film "Precious", and other notables. She currently serves as Casting Director for television's #1 show, "Empire" on Fox. Leah began her career as a casting assistant in 1991 working for legendary casting director and mentor Jaki Brown and Kimberly Hardin. Under their leadership, she assisted in casting actor/recording star Tyrese Gibson in the Coca-Cola ad that launched his career, which now includes two-blockbuster movie franchises, ”Transformers" & "Fast & Furious.” Climbing the casting ladder, Leah also assisted on films like "CB4" starring Chris Rock, "The Inkwell" with Larenz Tate and the cult classic "Friday" starring Ice Cube and Chris Tucker. Leah’s work ethic and reputation for "getting the job done" quickly spread among black filmmakers and the mainstream television space alike. In 1994, Leah landed a coveted casting position as the assistant to Leslie Litt, Senior VP of Casting at Warner Brothers. Within two years Leah earned a promotion to casting executive and began working on award-winning projects like "Friends" starring Jennifer Anniston and "Suddenly Susan" starring Brooke Shields. Both shows earned Primetime Emmy Awards for acting roles. During her tenure at Warner Brothers, Leah also cast "The Wayans Brothers" and "For Your Love,” which received six NAACP Image Awards nominations. In 2001, Leah left WBTV to start LDB Casting, the company she owns and operates today. As an independent casting director, Leah works across genres securing talent for films like "2 Fast 2 Furious,” "Shadow Boxer,” “ATL,” and "The Paperboy,” which showcased an all-star cast that included: Matthew McConaughey, Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron, John Cusack, Macy Grey and David Oyelowo. In 2013, Leah cast the award-winning film “The Butler” with another all-star line- up that included: Oprah Winfrey, Forrest Whitaker, Liev Shreiber, Robin Williams, James Marsden, John Cusack, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Terrence Howard and rising star YaYa DaCosta. Among her many accolades, Leah is the recipient of the Hamilton Award for Outstanding Casting for her work on “The Butler,” and the Casting Society of America’s “Outstanding Achievement in Casting for a Television Drama” award for her work on “Empire.”

Phaedra Harris / Casting Director

Phaedra Harris has over thirty years’ experience in feature film and television casting. Harris has been involved in the casting of well over 50 films ranging in budgets from the two million dollar independent tele-feature Butter starring Ernie Hudson and Nia Long to the eighty million dollar studio blockbuster film The Fifth Element starring Bruce Willis and Chris Tucker. She has also worked on many top rated television series including The John Larroquette Show, Where I Live and Dark Justice, to list a few. Having begun her casting career interning with such notable casting directors as Rhonda Young (Beverly Hills Cop, Rocky III, Benson and It’s A Living) and Barbara Claman (Iron Eagle, Cold Steel, Bulletproof and Tour of Duty). This invaluable training ground has afforded Harris the opportunity to develop a strong working relationship with agents and a reputation for identifying new talent. Harris’ ability to attract talent to projects provides a solid foundation to produce cost effective independent films for distribution. Some of Harris’ projects include: PREACHER'S KID (LeToya Luckett, Tank, Ella Joyce, Clifton Powell), THE CONFIDANT ( Boris Kodjoe, David Banner, Billy Zane, Bai Ling, Richard Roundtree) HOLLYWONT (Robert Wagner, Eddie Griffin, Fred Williamson, David Faustino), KINGS OF THE EVENING (Lynn Whitfield, Tyson Beckford, Glynn Turman), WHO MADE THE POTATO SALAD (Jaleel White, DeRay Davis, BeBe Drake), WHAT‟S LOVE GOTTA DO WITH IT (Angela Basset and Laurence Fishburne), COOL RUNNING (John Candy, Malik Yoba, Leon and Doug E. Doug), JUDGMENT DAY (Mario Van Peeples, Ice T and Suzy Amis), BEETHOVEN‟S SECOND (Charles Grodin, Bonnie Hunt and Chris Penn), CHAIN OF COMMAND (Roy Scheider, Michael Beihn and Maria Conchita Alonzo), THE MILITA (Dean Cain, Frederick Forrest, Stacy Keach and Jennifer Beals) Over the years Harris has packaged talent for over ten HBO Premier films, five features for SHOWTIME and twelve pictures for CineTel Films. Each cast has helped Harris become recognized as one of the top independent films casting director
amongst her peers in the industry. These diverse and bankable casts have also earned her the title of producer and billing credits on several projects.

Jacqui Pitman / Casting Director

Jacqui Pitman is widely known through Hollywood as, "the Casting Director with an Executive Producer's eye." Jacqui began her casting career in the late 80's for the hit dating show, Love Connection and Fox's Hit STUDS. She quickly moved up the ladder and became Casting Director on multiple shows in no time. In the late 90's, after conquering the casting world, Pitman left casting for the next 10 years to be a TV Producer. Success came quick when in 2004; Jacqui developed and co-executive produced ABC's Hit Plastic Surgery show, the original Extreme Makeover while working as the VP of Development for Lighthearted Entertainment. She also created and executive produced the MTV hit show NEXT! She takes pride in admitting the inspiration behind the show NEXT! was her own dating life. After working on the Casting side and the Producing side, Jacqui realized that Casting is the backbone of a great reality show so in 2009 she decided to marry her television development and her casting skills together and formed Partypit Productions Inc. and Pitman Casting Inc. Pitman Casting is a full service reality television casting company. Located in the heart of the television industry, Burbank, CA. Along with her partner and SVP of Production, John Kennamann, she oversees the casting process from development to delivery. They specialize in all things reality; hosts of game and talk shows, experts and comedians, docu-soaps, occupational casting, competitive reality shows and more. Pitman and her team of casting producers handle the creative, outreach, interviewing and cast selection, while Kennamann and his production team handle all things logistical; such as background checks, applicant releases and agreements, medical and psyche exams and casting finals. Over the past several years Pitman Casting has cast over 200 shows. Some of which include reality shows such as: Big Brother 2, Syfy's Face Off 1-13, Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge and Hot Set. TLC's Four Houses, TNT's 72 Hours, Bravo's Who Wants to be a Supermodel? Discovery's Dual Survival and I, Caveman, CW's Plain Jane and VH1's "Naked Dating".

HDA Monthly Meeting Venue

The Barnsdall Gallery and Theatre

 JULY 2016 MEETING:  3 PROFESSIONAL TIPS FOR HOLLYWOOD SUCCESS

Curtis King / Founder of The Black Academy of Arts and Letter

When Curtis King received in his possession invaluable historical Black culture documents that had been thrown in a New York trash dumpster from the 1969 national New York based Black Academy of Arts and Letters archives, he was deeply moved to create the Dallas, Texas based The Black Academy of Arts and Letters (TBAAL). From his dining room table with a $250 personal investment, now 39 years later, TBAAL is permanently housed in the heart of downtown Dallas Convention Center, a 250,000 sq. ft. venue which houses a 1,750 Main Stage and 275 Cabaret theaters, gallery, gift shop, rehearsal space, administrative offices, etc. The institution employees numerous actors, writers, dancers, musicians, arts administrators, etc. With a mission of promoting, cultivating, fostering, preserving and perpetuating the African, African American and Caribbean arts and letters in the Fine, Literary, Visual, Performing and Cinematic arts, King has directed and produced more than 100 theatrical productions at the Academy, DC's Kennedy Center, Harlem's Apollo and LA's Wilshire Ebell Theaters, National Theatre in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (Africa). Some of his most rewarding work includes directing Ruby Dee's last major public theatrical performance at the Apollo Theater and the 30th Anniversary March on Washington dramatic and musical concert at The Kennedy Center, starring the likes of Eartha Kitt, Halle Berry, Patti Austin, Esther Rolle, CBS Anchor Dan Rather, and more. A recipient of numerous awards, King was honored to receive the National Black Theatre Festival Larry Leon Hamlin Producer's Award, Texas Ambassador of Goodwill Award, Esquire Magazine Register Award (Men and Women Under 40 Who Are Changing America), the Congressional Black Caucus Arts Leadership Award and the Delta Sigma Theta Osceolo Arts Award for Excellence at the National Convention in St. Louis, MO, He received his Bachelor degree in Speech Communications at Jackson (Mississippi) State University and a Masters of Arts degree in Theatre from Texas Christian University. King is an avid supporter and advisor to the Hollywood Diversity Association.

Jocko Sims / Actor / Writer

Jocko Sims is one of the most engaging acting, writing and producing talents on the rise with roles in feature projects such as the award-winning Dreamgirls, Jarhead, and 2014’s box office smash Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, opposite Gary Oldman. Sims also starred with the late Dennis Hopper in Starz's first original drama series, Crash, and has had recurring roles on Showtime's Masters of Sex, TNT's Franklin & Bash and ABC's Castle, as well as appearances on numerous notable television series such as Grey's Anatomy, NCIS, Covert Affairs, Burn Notice, CSI and Bones among many others. Sims is currently one of the stars of Michael Bay's hit series, The Last Ship which is in its third season on TNT. In the post apocalyptic drama, Jocko plays Lieutenant Carlton Burk, a member of the U.S. Navy as he and his shipmates attempt to spread the cure for a virus that has caused a worldwide pandemic. Off the screen, Sims is currently writing and producing a comedy series, and he hosts the weekly Apollo Night LA Radio show designed to showcase indie music artists from around the world (http://apollonightla.com). Originally hailing from Texas, Sims graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in theater and currently resides in Los Angeles.

HDA Monthly Meeting Venue

The Barnsdall Gallery and Theatre

What Does HDA Membership Get You?

  • Industry Job Resources
  • Access to Industry Workshops and Panels
  • Admission To HDA Monthly Meetings
  • HDA Monthly Newsletter
  • Network Pitch Meetings

Who Should Become A Member of HDA?

  • Talent

    Create your personal online resume with head-shots and videos to be submitted by HDA to projects exclusively from network and studio diversity executives.

  • Networks / Studios

    Post exclusive jobs on the HDA platform and hire the best qualified diverse crew and staff for any production.

  • Organizations and Initiatives

    HDA is dedicated to uniting like minded organizations and diversity initiatives under the common goal  to advocate, educate, design and develop strategies that work to collectively address all aspects of diversity in entertainment.

  • Crew

    Create your personal online resume to submit to production jobs exclusively from network and studio diversity executives.

What Happens At HDA Meetings?

  • Networking

    Premier face-to-face industry networking with a monthly mixer featuring guest speakers and panel. Also, candid discussions about programming strategies, future plans and priorities. HDA meetings are the perfect opportunity for making connections and doing business.

  • Industry Support

    Have an upcoming industry event? HDA wants to pack the house and support your project!

  • Industry Education

    The ongoing mandate is to identify the best new ideas, recognize top industry talent, as well as offer the forum for discussion and debate. Additionally, HDA will explore issues and uncover trends and ultimately create national networks of connected individuals that will lead to business growth and career development in the film and television community.

Sign Up & Reserve Your Place...

Meet with like minded people, network, make new friends and learn from other successful people.

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Our Mission

The mission of the Hollywood Diversity Association is to facilitate the creation of viable opportunities in the film and television sector by bridging the gap between diverse talent and industry decision makers.

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All funds raised by The Hollywood Diversity Association are received by United Charitable and become the sole property of United Charitable which, for internal operating purposes, allocates the funds to the Project. The Program Manager or Donor-Advisor makes recommendations for disbursements which are reviewed by United Charitable for approval.

Contact Us

Have questions, comments or need to get in contact with the Hollywood Diversity Association?


For general information, please call 424-253-6733 or email info@diversifyhollywood.org


For press, media or sponsorship inquires, please contact Vanzil Burke at burke@diversifyhollywood.org

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