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Diversity at our 2017 Sundance Film Festival Panel

Do artists and storytellers have a responsibility to reflect diversity as it exists? The answer is yes.

That’s how Vicangelo Bulluck, the former executive Director of the Hollywood bureau of the NAACP, and the moderator of UCI’s Sundance Film Festival 2017 panel “Storytelling Unbound,” closed the discussion this past January. The topic was the need for diverse perspectives and representation  in media and entertainment.

UCI’s Chief Commercial Officer and President of Content Distribution Tonia O’Connor, Academy Award winner Geena Davis, Director of Beatriz at Dinner Miguel Arteta, Writer/Director of Rebel in the Rye Danny Strong, CEO of MACRO Charles D. King and VP and General Manager of Univision’s production unit Storyhouse, Christian Gabela, also weighed in at the packed house event during the opening weekend of the Festival. Here were some of the most memorable moments.

King on demographics.

I stopped using the term minority and shifted to the “new majority.” Believe me, I’m not asking anyone to lose money by producing stories with a multicultural point of view. The opportunity is very real. One of the biggest box office drivers for Hidden Figures was African American women.

Davis on the thinking and action that permeates the Geena Davis Institute

People get used to the idea of things when they see them. That’s why gender parity across media – in front and behind the camera – is critical. We use data to show producers and creators the gaps and then ask them to be better. There’s no more time for fooling around.

I stopped using the term minority and shifted to the “new majority”.

Arteta on social and class barriers.

With Beatriz at Dinner, I wanted to depict what it’s like to be an outsider among people of power. I can’t believe how insidious the hatred can be between groups of people. As my writer said, “If I write it like I heard it you wouldn’t be able to shoot it.”

Strong on authenticity.

My authenticity is derived from a passionate need to tell a specific story. I’ll choose a path – say, hip hop, which Lee Daniels and I knew next to nothing about – and then I research it. After I write, I share it with the experts and have them point out where I’m faking. My excitement is authentic.

Gabela on the importance of credibility in this era of “fake news.”

Storyhouse merges Univision’s news capabilities with our documentary unit in order to tell stories with a journalistic DNA baked in. One of our biggest upcoming projects is a docu-series on El Chapo.

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