SAG-AFTRA Convention Hosts Digital Media and LGBT Panels; Honors Founding Co-Presidents
On Friday, the second day of SAG-AFTRA's National Convention mixed business with educational opportunities for delegates.
The day's business started with a video greeting from National President Ken Howard, who apologized for missing today's sessions but who was working on a project and unable to attend. In Howard's absence, the gavel was turned over to newly elected Executive Vice President Gabrielle Carteris who thanked the delegates for electing her and welcomed to the dais the seven newly elected vice presidents.
Rep. Judy Chu, who was slated to speak in person but had to stay in Washington, sent a special video message telling delegates that they are making history and are a powerhouse in the industry.
"We have to make sure the entertainment industry thrives because you represent an American product that cannot be duplicated," Chu said.
Several panels and workshops took place throughout the day. The first panel was a special keynote session Conversation from the Leading Edge, with moderator Keyvan Peymani, head of digital at ICM Partners, and panelists Terry City, VP West Coast BuzzFeed; Greg Siegel, SVP of entertainment development at BreakMedia; D.A. Wallach, artist-in-residence at Spotify; and Thania Guardino, marketing and accounts exec at Somo Mobile Ltd. The panelists discussed trends and tips to navigating the digital world and suggestions for creating digital content.
Peymani, who opened the panel said, "Digital media is a story of connection, an intersection between content and audience. [But], it's increasingly harder for content to break through the clutter."
Wallach, a SAG-AFTRA member, echoed Peymani saying, "The challenge for consumers now is there's so much out there. We need to figure out how to get the people using these products only the things they are interested in."
The conversation then turned to how digital media spreads information. Said City, "There's an art and science to why things get spread socially."
Guardino spoke of the mobile component saying, "Mobile is now the most personalized content. Where else are you reaching people in a more personalized way, bridging the gap between advertisers and audience?"
Siegel agreed, adding, "It's not mobile. It's part of you."
Said City, "Content is key, no matter what the platform is."
Delegates also started discussing the various constitutional amendments and resolutions being presented for consideration and voting, and will continue the process Saturday.
A total of 14 panels and six workshops were offered in the afternoon, as well as a press conference for a groundbreaking study on workplace opportunities and conditions for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) actors, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Diversity in the Industry: Experiences and Perspectives of SAG-AFTRA Members.
In the evening, Mary Hart (Entertainment Tonight) hosted the Inaugural National Convention Celebration dinner event with a special musical performance led by Dorian Holley (The Tonight Show with Jay Leno). The celebration honored members and employers with awards recognizing commitment to service, diversity and leadership. The American Scene Awards were presented to three categories Actor/Performer Award: ABC Family and Brenda Hampton of Brendavision! Productions for The Secret Life of the American Teenager; Belva Davis Broadcaster Award: Detroit Public Television for Arab American Stories; Recording Artist Award: Universal Music Group for their entire catalog and roster of artists.
The George Heller Memorial Award gold cards were presented to National Board Member David Hartley-Margolin and Washington-Mid Atlantic Local Executive Director, Patricia O'Donnell for their significant contributions to SAG-AFTRA and its members.
Hartley-Margolin, described by presenter Denny Delk as a "belt and suspenders kind of guy," said "Thank you for this amazing honor. I'm humbled and just blown away."
Patricia O'Donnell said, "I am speechless. My husband, who is no longer with us, received this award and between the two of us, we have served these unions for nearly 75 years. Thank you so much, I am truly blessed."
SAG-AFTRA's founding co-presidents, Roberta Reardon and Ken Howard, were also honored for their leadership through the merger of SAG and AFTRA. Said Reardon, "It has been a long and sometimes difficult road to get to tonight, but I wouldn't change one minute of it."
Convention continues with a keynote speech by Secretary of Labor, Thomas Perez and contract reports from Broadcast, Actor Performer and Sound Recordings member categories.
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