Monday, June 04, 2018

AT&T SHAPE REACHES OUT TO ARTISTS AND AUDIENCES IN INNOVATIVE WAYS: with guest speakers Sean Combs, Issa Rae and Ava DuVernay.  
by Janet J. Lawler
Los Angeles 
Actress/Director/Writer Issa Rae
The 2018 AT&T SHAPE tech and entertainment event recently took place in LA.  Tickets sold out fast.  I highly recommend this event, having attended it now two consecutive years.  It's a fun time focusing on tech trends (blockchain, immersive entertainment, 5G) and entertainment breakouts (trends in storytelling, data marketing); it's a well-sponsored and organized two-day event held at the historic Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank.
Warner Bros. Studios in Los Angeles
There were exhibits and vendors featuring everything from smart phones to virtual reality to the latest gaming trends.  Participants were able to stroll the Warner's lot  (free guided VIP Warner Bros. Studio Tours also available).  We toured sound stages for hit shows like ELLEN and THE BIG BANG THEORY, which was cool.

This event is also a great place to network if that's your thing.  One filmmaker I met with had driven from Utah to LA just to network here.  His goal was to connect with as many creatives as he could and also catch some of the top-notch speaker/panel events. 
Some highlights were co-host/filmmaker Ava DuVernay discussing her early work as a filmmaker, to screening the AT&T Film Finals (short films) in front of a live audience.
Director/Writer Ava DuVernay and David Christopher
Other highlights included a one-on-one interview with Sean Combs, Chairman and CEO of Combs Enterprises.  Sean Combs discussed his early venture into hip hop music, a clothing line, to Revolt TV Network, his music-oriented digital cable television network.
Sean Combs, CEO Sean Combs Enterprises
I was thoroughly impressed with Sean Combs.  He spoke from the heart about his mother being his role model. She held four jobs when he was a boy. Sean also credits his mother for his strong work ethic that today has turned him into a multi-millionaire and successful entrepreneur.

The main takeaways from Combs' talk:
 *  Get busy.
*  Know your purpose and it should have a greater good than just serving yourself.  Help others.
*  Always follow through on what you do.  Go the extra mile to stand out and complete your projects.
*  Learn your craft, whatever it is, be the best at it.
*  Know and utilize social media to brand your voice or unique talent.
*  Do what you can to get the information out to the world about what you're selling or creating.
*  Take advantage of the doors opening during this "black renaissance" that's going on with the mega success of films like Black Panther and creatives like Issa Rae,  Ryan Coogler, Michael B. Jordan, and others.
*  Be fearless.
*  Keep God in your life.
*  Join others with your goals and have power in unity.
*  And his BIGGEST advice, OWN something you create!  Or OWN your own business.  There is power in ownership and Sean credited his strength in that belief.
Creatives Khadi Don and Issa Rae
Another inspiring (laugh-filled) panel featured actress/writer/web series creator Issa Rae.  Issa joined interviewer/comedian/filmmaker Khadi Don for a chat.  Issa Rae talked about her unusual path from  web series creator (starting in college) up to her current success with her  hit TV show INSECURE on HBO (Season 3 kicks off on August 12th). 

Issa's advice to struggling artists is to "stay in your lane" and "don't compare yourself to your peers. " Her trajectory took time and had many setbacks before finding success. Issa suggested knowing your strong suits and to focus on those (your voice, your audience, your themes).  Issa worked for other TV shows where it turned out not to be such a great fit.  She feels optimistic about new opportunities for diverse creatives as many new doors are opening with a demand for original content.
Thanks to AT&T SHAPE for bringing these successful speakers and panelists to share their passions and information with a passionate community of writers, producers, filmmakers, gamers, coders, and artists looking to make their mark.

Want to see the video sessions?  Here is a link to all the available AT&T SHAPE sessions mentioned above.  Enjoy and keep creating!

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Until next time.