2023 EVENT SERIES!
AMERICAN STORIES OF US
Let’s flip the script on our narratives of division.
ENTER THE STORYTELLERS. ENTER THE NARRATIVE SHIFTERS.
Storytellers can be the heroes America needs right now, dismantling the destructive “us versus them” dynamics that are fueling our current political crisis and isolating Americans from one another. Storytellers can act as societal norm-shifters for how we engage across our differences, helping us imagine a shared democracy for an ideologically diverse, multiracial America.
Creating New American Stories of Us is an event series that explores entertainment’s potential to strengthen America’s social fabric and create a shared sense of “us” as Americans.
CAN STORYTELLERS SAVE AMERICA? URGENCY, HOPE, & THE PATH FORWARD
On Sep. 28th, hundreds of Americans gathered together in-person and online as a part of the Creating New American Stories of Us kick-off event hosted byBridge Entertainment Labs and the USC Dornsife Center for the Political Future.
SPEAKERS & MODERATORS FEATURED AT THE CREATING NEW AMERICAN STORIES OF US KICK-OFF EVENT
Founder & CEO, UNITE, Co-Creator of The Dignity Index
Timothy Shriver is married, a father of 5, the Chairman of Special Olympics International and co-founder of UNITE – an initiative to promote national unity and solidarity across differences. Tim began his career as an educator and subsequently co-founded and currently chairs the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), the leading school reform organization in the field of social and emotional learning. Shriver earned his undergraduate degree from Yale University, a Master’s degree from Catholic University, and a Doctorate in Education from the University of Connecticut. He has produced 6 films, is the author of the New York Times bestseller Fully Alive – Discovering What Matters Most, and co-editor of The Call to Unite: Voices of Hope and Awakening.
Senior Vice President, Content Representation and Impact, Participant
Nicole Starr is Senior Vice President, Content Representation and Impact at Participant, the leading media company dedicated to entertainment that stands at the intersection of art and activism. In this newly created role, Starr is responsible for ensuring that Participant’s narrative, documentary, and episodic content aligns with the company’s impact priorities and authentically reflects the world around us.
In her previous role as VP, Social Impact, Starr oversaw the development and execution of impact campaigns to accelerate progress around the world’s most pressing issues. Her passion for leveraging the power of storytelling to inspire action drives her work at Participant, which has included the creation of social impact and culture change campaigns for numerous films, such as the critically acclaimed Judas and the Black Messiah, American Utopia, RBG, On the Basis of Sex, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power and Academy Award® winner Roma. Notably, the impact campaign around Roma helped shift the narrative around domestic workers and inspired the cultural conditions for policy change in the US and Mexico.
Starr came to Participant with over a decade of experience in the entertainment industry, including a six-year stint at 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, building corporate partnerships around film and TV properties such as Avatar, Life of Pi, the X-Men franchise and Glee. In addition, she is a founding member of Storyline Partners, an organization working in writers’ rooms to create authentic portrayals of underrepresented or misrepresented communities in pop culture.
Executive Producer & Host, How To Citizen // America Outdoors, PBS
Baratunde Thurston is an Emmy-nominated, multi platform storyteller and producer operating at the intersection of race, tech, democracy, and climate. He is the host and executive producer of the PBS television series America Outdoors with Baratunde Thurston, creator and host of How To Citizen with Baratunde which Apple named one of its favorite podcasts of 2020, and a founding partner of the new media startup Puck. His comedic memoir, How To Be Black, is a New York Times best-seller. In 2019, he delivered what MSNBC’s Brian Williams called “one of the greatest TED talks of all time.” Baratunde is unique in his ability to integrate and synthesize themes of race, culture, politics, and technology to explain where our nation is and where we can take it. Baratunde serves on the boards of Civics Unplugged, BUILD.org, and Brooklyn Public Library and lives in Los Angeles, California.
Writer/Showrunner, The Americans, The Patient, Fosse/Verdon
JOEL FIELDS is a writer and executive producer whose work on FX’s critically acclaimed series The Americans earned him an Emmy® Award for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series and two WGA Awards for Best Dramatic Series. The Americans has also been honored with a Golden Globe® Award, two Critics’ Choice Awards, two Peabody Awards, and numerous AFI Awards, TCA Awards, and Emmy nominations. Fields also wrote and executive produced FX’s limited series Fosse/Verdon, for which he received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series. Fosse/Verdon earned an AFI Award for TV Program of the Year, as well as Emmy, Golden Globe, and Critics’ Choice nominations for Best Limited Series, a PGA nomination for Outstanding Producer of a Limited Series, and a WGA Award for Long Form Adapted Series. Most recently, Fields wrote and executive produced the limited series The Patient starring Steve Carell, alongside his The Americans collaborator Joe Weisberg. The Patient was nominated for a Peabody Award, as well as a Television Critics Association Award for Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Mini-Series or Specials. Fields lives in New York with his wife, Jessica, and their two children.
Curiosity Author & Bridge Builder
Mónica Guzmán is Senior Fellow for Public Practice at Braver Angels; author of I Never Thought of it That Way: How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times; and founder and CEO of Reclaim Curiosity. She was a 2019 fellow at the Henry M. Jackson Foundation, and a 2016 fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. Moni is the inaugural McGurn Fellow at the University of Florida, working with researchers at the UF College of Journalism and Communications and beyond to better understand ways to employ techniques described in her book to boost understanding. A Mexican immigrant, Latina, and dual US/Mexico citizen, she lives in Seattle with her husband and two kids and is the proud liberal daughter of conservative parents.
DAVE CAPLAN, PhD
Writer/Executive Producer, The Conners
DAVE CAPLAN, PhD
Writer and Executive Producer Dave Caplan has enjoyed a career in prime-time television and feature films that spans more than 30 years. He is currently writer/Executive Producer and co-showrunner of ABC’s “The Conners,” and previously served as writer and Co-Executive Producer on the acclaimed “Roseanne” revival. That show was the highest-rated scripted show in a decade. Among ABC’s other shows that Caplan has written and executive produced are “George Lopez,” “The Drew Carey Show” (showrunner), “Norm,” starring Norm MacDonald, and the ‘90s cult hit “Dinosaurs.” He was also writer/Executive Producer/co-showrunner of the FX series “Anger Management.” His other notable shows include “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose” and TNT’s police/medical drama “Rizzoli and Isles.” Caplan has been signed to several exclusive talent deals with major studios, where he developed new shows and consulted on numerous others. He has won numerous awards, including the Humanitas certificate and Environmental Media Award. Caplan has been quoted in many national publications and blogs, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Forbes, Entertainment Tonight Online, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, CinemaBlend, The Wrap, Refinery 29 and several others. Caplan holds a PhD in Psychology, focusing on media-related issues, from Fielding Graduate University. Having conducted original research into story’s influence on audience empathy, he regularly speaks at schools and universities on topics ranging from media and news literacy to audience psychology and narrative persuasion. Caplan is an advisor to the Bridge Entertainment Labs, which aims to decrease toxic partisanship and polarization. He also created a writers’ mentorship program at California State University at Northridge to encourage diversity in TV comedy. Caplan is represented by management agency Odenkirk-Provissiero Entertainment.
ERIKA SOTO LAMB
Vice President, Social Impact Strategy Showtime/MTV Entertainment Studios at Paramount Global
ERIKA SOTO LAMB
Erika Soto Lamb works with companies, organizations, and individuals on how to make a positive impact on the toughest social issues.
Erika was the founding head of social impact strategy at Comedy Central and now leads campaigns to educate, engage and activate people to take action on social issues for Showtime/MTV Entertainment Studios at Paramount Global. In this role she is a co-founder of Power the Polls, the first national campaign to recruit a new generation of poll workers; a founder of Mental Health Action Day; a steering committee member for the inaugural Vote Early Day; and an advisory board member of the Civic Alliance and the Impact Guild.
She was previously the founding chief communications officer at Everytown for Gun Safety, where, in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, she helped build the country’s largest gun violence prevention organization that includes Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Michael Bloomberg-founded Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Erika was previously a vice president at Ketchum, a global PR firm where she provided strategic communications and reputation management counsel to major international corporate and government clients. Earlier in her career, Erika focused on media relations and message development for candidate and issue campaigns, as well as for public and private sector clients.
Erika side hustles to help elect more women and people of color to public office and she sits on the board of the Violence Intervention Program, Inc., a direct service and advocacy organization working to end intimate partner violence and empower women – and in particular Latinas – in New York City.
Erika has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Stanford University and a Master of Science in Strategic Communications from Columbia University. She is an indigenous Latina from border town El Paso, Texas and resides in New York City with her family, including two young sons.
CEO, Search for Common Ground
Shamil Idriss is CEO of Search for Common Groundrn(Search), an international non-profit organization whosernmission is to transform the way the world deals with conflict, away from adversarial approaches toward cooperative solutions. With 850+ staff working in 32 countries, Search is the largest dedicated peacebuilding organization and was nominated by the Quakers for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize. Speaking of Search’s impact in 2016, then-U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said “your work in Burundi helped to prevent genocide…and during the Iran [nuclear] talks, the fresh ideas you provided helped us to achieve a breakthrough.” Prior to his current role, Idriss was the CEO of Soliya where he led a public-private sector coalition to establish the field of virtual exchanges. In 2005, he was appointed by then-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan as Deputy Director of the UN Alliance of Civilizations. He served on the Steering Committee of the World Economic Forum Council of 100 Leaders and is a member of the World Economic Forum Young Global Leaders and recipient of the 2015 Open Society Foundation New Executive Award. He has delivered numerous lectures and keynote addresses on international conflict resolution, social impact media, and social entrepreneurship, including: 2022 Skoll Foundation Featured Speaker: Applying Lessons from International Conflict to a Divided United States 2020 Bridgewater Associates Distinguished Speaker Series: Coming Together and Falling Apart: Peace and Conflict in the 21 st Century 2017 Ambassador Chris Stevens Memorial Lecture: Conflict is Inevitable, Violence is Not 2016 TEDx-Marin Talk: Truths About Violent Conflict 2016 Global Philanthropy Conference Plenary: The Search for Belonging through Violent Extremist Networks
Political Anchor, Spectrum News One
Veteran Republican Media Consultant, Co-Director of the USC Dornsife Center for the Political Future
Mike Murphy is the Co-Director of the Center for the Political Future at USC and a Republican Strategist Murphy is one of the Republican Party’s most successful political media consultants, having handled strategy and advertising for more than 26 successful gubernatorial and senatorial campaigns. His record in helping Republicans win Democratic states is unmatched by any other GOP consultant. Murphy has been called a “media master” by Fortune magazine, the GOP’s “hottest media consultant” by Newsweek, and the leader of a “new breed” of campaign consultants by Congressional Quarterly. He is a widely known political pundit, appearing frequently on NBC, CNN, and NPR. Previously, he served as a regular on the Meet the Press political roundtable and wrote the “Murphy’s Law” column for TIME Magazine.
Murphy served as senior strategist for both John McCain’s first campaign for President in 2000 and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s historic election as Governor of California. Murphy has worked on successful campaigns for many GOP Governors and Senators including Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, Terry Branstad, Lamar Alexander, Jeff Sessions, Slade Gorton, Dirk Kempthorne, Tommy Thompson and John Engler. In the 2016 primary season, Murphy served as the chief strategist to the Right to Rise PAC, which supported Jeb Bush’s candidacy. In 2020 Murphy joined former aides to George W. Bush and John McCain to endorse Joe Biden for president. He has advised political leaders in six foreign countries, too. A partner in the Washington, DC based Revolution Agency, Murphy also advises several Fortune 500 corporations and several of America’s largest trade associations.
Murphy has partnered with fellow campaign veteran, David Axelrod, to discuss American politics twice a week on their podcast, Hacks on Tap. Murphy previously hosted Radio Free GOP where he facilitated insider discussions about political campaigns with campaign veterans from both parties.
He was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1962 and attended the Edmund Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Murphy also served as a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and is on the Board of Advisors for the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago. In addition to his consulting practice, Murphy also works as a writer/producer in the entertainment industry. He and his wife Tiffany now live in Los Angeles, California where they have been based since 2003.
Founder and President, Interfaith America
Eboo Patel is a civic leader who believes that religious diversity is an essential and inspiring dimension of American democracy. Named “one of America’s best leaders” by News and World Report, Eboo is Founder and President of Interfaith America, the leading interfaith organization in the United States. Under his leadership, Interfaith America has worked with governments, universities, private companies, and civic organizations to make faith a bridge of cooperation rather than a barrier of division. Eboo served on President Obama’s Inaugural Faith Council, has given hundreds of keynote addresses, and has written five books, including We Need to Build: Field Notes for Diverse Democracy. He is an Ashoka Fellow and holds a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford University, where he studied on a Rhodes scholarship. Eboo lives in Chicago with his wife, Shehnaz, and their two sons.
Co-Founder and President of Iron Light Labs
Jo Jensen is the co-founder and president of Iron Light Labs, a nonprofit with the mission to empower purpose-driven people to change the world. Labs was recently named “Nonprofit of the Year” by the Shorty Awards. As a serial entrepreneur, Jo has created three successful companies, led non-profits, produced award-winning films, and designed high-profile marketing campaigns. An invited speaker at the White House, Jo’s work has been featured in national news outlets including the Wall Street Journal, Good Morning America, IndieWire, and People Magazine. Her unique collaboration style has resulted in partnerships with Amazon, Facebook, Google, and celebrities Kevin Bacon, Katie Couric, and Queen Rania of Jordan. Jo holds a Guinness World Record, is the winner of the WeWork Creator Award, and is an avid bridge player.
Executive Producer, Two-time Emmy and NAACP Image Award Nominee
Riaz Patel is an Executive Producer/Director of TV series & media projects that create ‘perspectiveshifting’ experiences for real people. He has been nominated for Two Emmy-Awards, an NAACP Image Award, a Women’s Image Network (WIN) Award for creatively leading shows like HOW DO I LOOK? forNBC/Universal, HOW TO LOOK GOOD NAKED for Lifetime, FAMILY SOS WITH JO FROST for TLC, RACE TO ESCAPE for Discovery and many others. His shows have been filmed in twenty-one countries and distributed worldwide by companies like Discovery, A&E, MTV, NBC/Universal, Hulu, & Netflix. His most recent project, “The RAD Impact Awards” featured Priyanka Chopra, Margot Robbie, Charlize Theron, Laverne Cox & Travis Scott and earned 138.4 million impressions online. He is represented worldwide by ICM Partners.
Beyond the “screen world,” Riaz has also created entertainment-based solutions for real world problems: immersive “perspective-shifting” experiences that can catalyze change very quickly with a completely unconventional approach.
The first of those projects is a ten-year collaboration with The Jenesse Center, a domestic violence shelter in Los Angeles, to offer authentic ‘Self-Esteem Makeovers’ for victims of domestic violence. For his creation of ‘The Style Center at Jenesse’ – a physical boutique/salon within the shelter itself, Riaz was awarded the Silver Rose Award from Halle Berry, a special commendation from the City of Los Angeles, and the project was recently featured in a pivotal scene of the hit Netflix scripted series, MAID, about domestic violence.
Working directly with HRH Princess Reema of Saudi Arabia (currently the Saudi Ambassador to the US), Riaz creates tv programs and interactive workshops for millions of women in her nation. His work is specifically focused on helping women develop their personal identity and sense of self as they begin pursuing new rights, opportunities, careers, and dreams as equal citizens.
In reaction to the growing “divide” in America – and our social media-induced communication crisis – Riaz created The EPIC System, a new framework that changes HOW we talk about divisive issues. Forbes describes EPIC as: “Refreshingly elegant and simple, but under-girded by sound behavioral science, The EPIC System is a game changer for those working to build bridges while breaking down walls.” Riaz & his EPIC System have been mentioned in Forbes, The Washington Post, CNN, The Blaze, The Daily Beast, and The Huffington Post. EPIC is currently taught at universities, high schools, companies, and places of worship.
After seven years of testing, in 2022 Riaz will launch ConnectEffect, a 60-minute in-person experience, that will take large groups of total strangers – from all sides – and quickly emotionally connect them to each other. Once “connected” the audience will have desperately-needed conversations with each other about the real issues that are dividing them – but with real connection, compassion & understanding.
President of Bridge Entertainment Labs, Founder of Millennial Action Project, Former U.S. Senate candidate
WHAT’S NEXT IN THE CREATING NEW AMERICAN STORIES OF US EVENT SERIES?
What’s Making Us Laugh? What Role Does Comedy Play in Pulling Us Together – or Driving Us Apart? (Fall 2023)
More Speakers to be Announced
Documentary and Unscripted: Promising Models for Content Co-Creation & Storytelling Infrastructure (Fall 2023)
More Speakers to be Announced
Executive Director, Center for Media & Social Impact
u003cstrongu003ernCaty Borumu003c/strongu003e is Executive Director of the u003ca href=u0022http://www.cmsimpact.org/u0022u003eu003cstrongu003eCenter for Media u0026amp; Social Impact (CMSI),u003c/strongu003eu003c/au003e a creative innovation lab and research center based at American University that creates and studies entertainment for social change; and the Provost Associate Professor in AU’s School of Communication. She is an award-winning media producer, scholar, and author of three books about entertainment media and social change: u003ca href=u0022https://www.amazon.com/Comedian-Activist-Walk-into-Communication/dp/0520299760/ref=pd_lpo_14_t_0/132-3531649-1844217?_encoding=UTF8u0026amp;pd_rd_i=0520299760u0026amp;pd_rd_r=0e06a688-84cc-48a5-9f6e-f5b74f975af9u0026amp;pd_rd_w=GGtwku0026amp;pd_rd_wg=vBNDqu0026amp;pf_rd_p=7b36d496-f366-4631-94d3-61b87b52511bu0026amp;pf_rd_r=MDX6KPAFM4ANYFZVZ82Zu0026amp;psc=1u0026amp;refRID=MDX6KPAFM4ANYFZVZ82Zu0022u003eu003cemu003eA Comedian and An Activist Walk Into a Bar: The Serious Role of Comedy in Social Justiceu003c/emu003e,u003c/au003e with co-author Lauren Feldman (foreword by Norman Lear, University of California Press); u003ca href=u0022https://nyupress.org/9781479810857/the-revolution-will-be-hilarious/u0022u003eu003cemu003eThe Revolution Will Be Hilarious: Comedy for Social Change and Civic Poweru003c/emu003eu003c/au003e (NYU Press), published in February 2023; and u003ca href=u0022https://global.oup.com/academic/product/story-movements-9780190943424?cc=usu0026amp;lang=enu0026amp;u0022u003eu003cemu003eStory Movements: How Documentaries Empower People and Inspire Social Changeu003c/emu003eu003c/au003eu003cemu003e u003c/emu003e(Oxford University Press). In 2021, she won American University’s annual u003ca href=u0022https://www.american.edu/universityawards/past-recipients.cfmu0022u003e“Outstanding Scholarship, Research, Creative Activity, and Other Professional Contributions Award,”u003c/au003e a refereed honor that recognizes extraordinary faculty achievement. In 2020, she was nationally recognized as one of DOC NYC’s “New Documentary Leaders” industry list. As a documentary producer, her films and TV programs have aired internationally and nationally, across TV, streaming, and theaters.rnrnu0026nbsp;rnrnUnder Professor Borum’s leadership, CMSI founded and co-directs several large-scale national and international comedy programs: the u003ca href=u0022https://yesandlaughterlab.com/u0022u003eu003cemu003eYes, And Laughter Labu003c/emu003e,u003c/au003e a first-of-its-kind creative incubator of comedy for social justice in partnership with Hollywood and social justice groups, co-directed with cultural agency Moore + Associates; and, with co-creator Bethany Hall, u003ca href=u0022https://cmsimpact.org/program/goodlaugh/u0022u003eu003cemu003eGoodLaughu003c/emu003eu003c/au003eu003cemu003e, u003c/emu003ea program that brings together professional comedians and human rights organizations for comedy co-creation, convenings, and research; and, in collaboration with clean energy nonprofit organization Gen180, the u003ca href=u0022https://cmsimpact.org/climate-comedy-cohort/u0022u003eu003cemu003eClimate Comedy Cohort.u003c/emu003eu003c/au003e Prior to her career at American University, she was Senior Vice President in the Social Impact Group at FleishmanHillard International Communications, where she and her team received the Public Relations Society of America’s prestigious Silver Anvil Award for Public Service; philanthropy director and producer with legendary TV producer Norman Lear; Program Officer in Entertainment Media u0026amp; Public Health at the Kaiser Family Foundation; and fellow in civic journalism at u003cemu003eThe Philadelphia Inquireru003c/emu003e.
Writer & Producer, “Cheers”; Co-Founder, Ricochet
Senior Director of Engagement and Impact Innovation at ITVS
Filmmaker, This Land
u003cp class=u0022p1u0022u003eMatthew fell in love with film when he was twelve-years-old and saw Fargo for the first time. He’s had a camera (or director’s monitor) in his hand ever since.u003c/pu003ernu003cp class=u0022p1u0022u003eMatthew’s work has been screened, published u0026amp; exhibited globally in The de Young Museum, as well as on prime time TV, during the Winter Olympics, and at Big Sky Film Festival, Calgary International Film Festival, the Berlin Commercial Festival, and more. His documentary film This Land screened around the world and was praised by The New York Times, Film Threat, and more. His work in commercials and short films earned him the honor of being a part of the Saatchi u0026amp; Saatchi New Directors Showcase at Cannes Lions, a Shots Creative’s Rising Stars, an official nominee at the Berlin Commercial Festival, a Webby Award nominee, and the recipient of eight Vimeo Staff Picks.u003c/pu003e
Filmmaker & Entrepreneur, Founder of Ritual Arts
Can Storytellers Save America?
Urgency, Hope, & The Path Forward
Date: Thursday, September 28, 2023
Time: 2pm – 5pm
Location: Town & Gown, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Panel 1: What does it mean to “bridge divides” at this moment in America?
- Moderator: Steven Olikara (President of Bridge Entertainment Labs, Founder of Millennial Action Project, Former U.S. Senate candidate)
- Mónica Guzmán (Curiosity Author & Bridge Builder)
- Eboo Patel (Founder and President, Interfaith America)
- Baratunde Thurston (Executive Producer & Host, How To Citizen // America Outdoors, PBS)
Panel 2: Flipping the Script: Can Storytellers Save America?
- Moderator: Riaz Patel (Executive Producer, Two-time Emmy and NAACP Image Award Nominee)
- Dave Caplan (Writer/Executive Producer, The Conners)
- Joel Fields (Writer/Showrunner, The Americans, The Patient, Fosse/Verdon)
Panel 3: Social Cohesion as a Social Impact Cause
- Moderator: Jo Jensen (Co-Founder and President of Iron Light Labs)
- Nicole Starr (Senior Vice President, Content Representation and Impact, Participant)
- Erika Soto Lamb (Vice President, Social Impact Strategy Showtime/MTV Entertainment Studios at Paramount Global)
Panel 4: Politics, Storytelling, and American Democracy
- Moderator: Alex Cohen (Political Anchor, Spectrum News One)
- Mike Murphy (Veteran Republican Media Consultant, Co-Director of the USC Dornsife Center for the Political Future)
- Steven Olikara (President of Bridge Entertainment Labs, Founder of Millennial Action Project, Former U.S. Senate candidate)
What’s Making Us Laugh?
What Role Does Comedy Play in Pulling Us Together – or Driving Us Apart?
Date: Fall, 2023 (date tbd)
Location: Virtual (Online)
REGISTRATION COMING SOON
Documentary & Unscripted:
Promising Models for Content Co-Creation & Storytelling Infrastructure
Date: Fall, 2023 (date tbd)
Location: Virtual (Online)
REGISTRATION COMING SOON