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Pharrell Williams, Donna Langley to Headline ‘Variety’ Hollywood Diversity Conference

Hollywood trade publication Variety will host its first conference on diversity and inclusion in the entertainment industry in November, the outlet announced Monday.

Taking place at the Montage hotel in Beverly Hills on November 1, the conference “aims to foster dialogue around various aspects of diversity including ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and aging, by engaging senior executives and talent from the creative community,” Variety said in a post announcing the event.

Ten-time Grammy Award-winning musician Pharrell Williams and Universal Studios chairman Donna Langley will topline the event, titled “Inclusion,” by sitting for conversations with Variety editors. Panels will tackle issues including LGBT rights and advancing Latino entertainment in the industry.

In a statement, Variety group editor Michelle Sobrino-Stearns said there is “no issue in Hollywood today more important and relevant than diversity and inclusion.”

“It is Variety’s privilege and responsibility to lead an industry-wide dialogue and bring the decision makers of our community together to promote solutions to counter the lack of minority talent in film and television,” Sobrino-Stearns added. “This is an issue that transcends the entertainment business, and we are excited to play a role in the broader conversation.”

The topic of diversity in Hollywood has exploded in recent years. In 2014, backlash against the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences over the organization’s failure to nominate any black or Latino actors for Academy Awards exploded into the so-called #OscarsSoWhite movement. The trend continued last year, leading the Academy to invite its largest, most diverse class of new members ever this year, and to overhaul its voting rules.

Variety‘s conference won’t be the first to tackle diversity in the entertainment industry this year. On October 6, Selma actor David Oyelowo will headline the BFI London Film Festival’s Black Star Symposium for a discussion about the struggles black actors face in the United States and the UK, and to explore solutions to the problem.

The conferences come on the heels of a scathing September report from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, which called Hollywood the “epicenter of cultural inequality.”

 

Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum

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