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Women of the West set for defining agenda

The Women of the West keynote and networking event takes place alongside Drama Summit West at The Ebel Theatre in LA tomorrow, featuring a stellar line-up.

Melissa Grego

Speakers will include members of the HRTS board of directors Leigh Brecheen, Christina Davis, Chris Selak and Robin Schwartz; Kay Cannon (Blockers, Pitch Perfect, Girlboss); Vida Creator Tanya Saracho (Looking, How to Get Away with Murder); and speakers from companies such as Amazon, Endemol Shine North America, HBO, ITV Studios America, Lionsgate, NBCUniversal and Netflix.

Amazon Studios, Prime Video and IMDb serve as premiere sponsors.

Women of the West is the off-the-record conference for women founded by HRTS CEO Melissa Grego. The organisation will also launch ongoing mentor groups out of the event.

At a later date, HRTS will announce summer and fall WOTW Reunion events that will be free to all Women of the West attendees and are designed to foster the continuation of conversations and relationships started at the half-day conference.

Women of the West will feature three panel sessions, Mentor Group roundtable discussions led by a dozen expert leaders from across the landscape and a closing cocktail reception.

The panels are:

The Women of HRTS

HRTS board members offer insights into their career paths and keys to thriving in the future. This session will be moderated by HRTS Associates-LA board member Chika Chukudebelu, VP, programming and diversity at NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Group, Universal Cable.

Panelists on this session are:

Leigh Brecheen, partner, Bloom Hergott Diemer Rosenthal LaViolette Feldman Schenkmann & Goodman (HRTS board member)
Christina Davis, partner, Maniac Prods. (HRTS board member)
Robin Schwartz, head of TV, Big Beach (HRTS board member)
Chris Selak, exec VP and head of worldwide scripted television, Lionsgate (HRTS board secretary)

Building on ‘The Pass’

Moderator Laverne McKinnon, a producer and certified coach/grief recovery specialist, leads a candid discussion about how to acknowledge, understand and process things that do not go according to plan. For example, getting a pass on a project or promotion, having your responsibilities redrawn in a restructuring, or a promising business otherwise not panning out, and how to move onward and upward.

Panelists are:

Kay Cannon, director (Blockers), writer (Pitch Perfect franchise), executive producer/showrunner/creator (Girlboss)
Sophia Amoruso, founder and CEO, Girlboss
Bridget Baker, president and CEO, Baker Media

Making Vida: Inside the Mission to Create an Inclusive Production

A candid look into how and why Tanya Saracho, creator and showrunner of buzzworthy new half-hour drama Vida on Starz, and her producing and network colleagues mounted an all-Latinx show – before the ‘inclusion rider’ existed. Discussions will include what you can ask for in staffing up a show (and what’s out of bounds). Playwright and creator of I Love Dick Sarah Gubbins (Better Things) moderates.

Panelists are:

Tanya Saracho, creator/showrunner/executive producer, Vida
Carmen Cabana, director of photography, Vida
Carmen Cuba, casting director, Vida
Nancy Mejía, staff writer, Vida
JoAnne Yarrow, editor, Vida

Mentor Group Networking Roundtable

Women of the West dives deeply into the most important issues to women working in TV and media during expert-led discussions conducted on a diverse set of topics around the tables in the ballroom.

New as an HRTS event, the roundtables will serve as a launch pad for peer mentor groups among our members. Following the event, HRTS will present follow-up gatherings for the groups and their leader to reunite and stay connected. Passes to the Women of the West reunion events are complimentary for all Women of the West attendees.

Leaders and topics are:

  • Jennifer Collins, video business development, IMDb
    Creating Certainty in Your Partnerships in Uncertain Environments
  • Marisa Hammonds, senior VP, digital, marketing and research, Endemol Shine North America
    Cultivating Audiences Beyond the TV Screen
  • Danae Kokenos, head of TV licensing and original series, Prime Video Latin America, Amazon
    Understanding Successful Partnerships
  • Jenn Levy, director, unscripted originals and acquisitions, Netflix
  • Kathleen McCaffery, senior VP of HBO drama programming
  • Laverne McKinnon, producer and certified coach/grief recovery specialist
    Dealing with Disappointment and Loss
  • Lucienne Papon, EVP, creative affairs, ITV Studios America
    Reinventing Yourself
  • Tamaya Petteway, senior VP, brand and licensing partnerships, Endemol Shine North America
    Building Brand and Licensing Partnerships for Television IP
  • Chris Sanagustin, director, international originals, Netflix
    Unique Challenges for Diverse and/or LGBTQ Executives
  • Anne Vasquez, senior VP of strategic initiatives, tronc
    Surviving Disruption
  • Shea Vaughn, creator/CEO SheaNetics and co-founder/CEO Women On TV (WBTVN)
    The Importance of Well-Being in Business
  • Felicia Yue, senior manager, product management, Amazon Prime Video
    Careers in Production and Technology



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