Entertainment Local News West Edition

Urban League panel discusses diversity in entertainment industry

LOS ANGELES — A conversation on the importance of including people of color on creative teams in the film an television industries was held Oct. 5 as part of the Los Angeles Urban League Young Professionals’ Future of the Industry Entertainment Summit.

Tana Sessions moderated the panel discussion of industry insiders that included entertainment attorney Sloan Whiteside, Paige Simpson, a manager of scripted television; and Trell Thomas, the founder of the Black Excellence Brunch.

“Own your story and tell it,” Simpson said. “Remember why you’re at the table. You are unique. You are who you are. Shine, and be yourself.”

The panelists all had their own stories of making their way into the industry.

“I was the only black person and woman at my law firm,” Whiteside said. “So I always wear my hair natural and wear my ripped jeans. It’s interesting having conversations with people who are very intelligent but not as knowledgeable about our people. A lot of people I work with are gatekeepers.”

Thomas talked about developing confidence in yourself.

“I remember when I worked at NBC and Viacom and I remember trying to shrink or become something else,” he said. “I didn’t want to be the only person in the room saying something.

“It’s about becoming more confident and believing in yourself. You have to talk to yourself a lot and believe in yourself. Start with yourself, do the inner work of who you are and what you really want to do. Show up unapologetically.”

Los Angeles Urban League Young Professionals Chair and Event Producer Jasmine Kent said entertainment is a priority for the Urban League these days. She said the purpose of the event was “to give people jobs in the entertainment industry at both the creative and executive level.”

“People come from all different walks of life and different industries and having everyone in one room being present and gaining that knowledge is most important to the Urban League,” co-event Producer Latanza Price said. 

Music producer Vincent Durham of Sacramento came to the summit gain knowledge and meet like-minded people.” Marmeset is a distribution company I work with.” 

Two UCLA senior student singers came to figure out how to make themselves more marketable in a competitive industry. They were recommended to talk to agents and research the two major music publishers to learn more about the music industry.