The third panel for the 2020 Ebert Symposium Series will stream today, November 5th, at 5pm CT on the YouTube channel and Facebook page of Ebertfest. I am pleased to announce today’s panelists including Christine Simmons, the chief operating officer of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. She will be joined by Keri Carpenter, Samantha Chatman, and Troy Pryor. They will be featured in a panel entitled “Representation in Media” that explores inclusion and equity in film and media. Moderating the discussion will be media scholar Angharad Valdivia, a professor in the University of Illinois’ Institute of Communications Research and also a professor of Media and Cinema studies.
Each panel in this series has taken a deeper dive into the topics we think are so vital today in the world at large. You can watch the first panel, “The Movie Industry in a Time of Change” here, and the second panel, “Documentary Film and Social Change,” here. All the bios for panelists participating in today’s panel can be found below.
Christine Simmons was named to the position of Chief Operating Officer at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2019. Simmons is responsible for the day-to-day management and enhancement of the Academy’s internal organization and infrastructure, focusing on a number of key initiatives including the organization’s strategic and 5-year business plans, career progression realignment, and many more. Simmons will also be leading the first ever, Office of Representation, Inclusion and Equity and continues to oversee the Academy Foundation, comprised of the Margaret Herrick Library, Academy Film Archive, its educational programs, and Science and Technology Council. She will join leadership in collaborative efforts to fulfill and further the Academy mission, that is to recognize and uphold excellence in the motion picture arts and sciences, inspire imagination, and connect the world through the medium of motion pictures.
A proud UCLA graduate, she just finished a 2-year term on the UC Board of Regents, where she served on the following committees: Finance and Capital Strategies, Public Engagement and Development, Investments & Basic Needs. She is immediate Past President, and Director on the Board of the UCLA Alumni Association. She also just finished her term as Treasurer of the Alumni Associations of the UC. She was just re-elected as a member of the UCLA Foundation Board of Directors and will continue to serve on the diversity advisory committee for the Chief Investments Officer of the UC Office of the President. She is on the Advisory Council for Next Play Capital, Shared Harvest Fund, Committee for the LA 2020 Women on Boards and a delegate for the Hollywood Commission. She also volunteers for Better Futures for Thomazeau, a small, grassroots nonprofit that provides aide and is currently building a vocational school in Haiti.
Her dedication to excellence and passion for giving back has earned her a number of honors. Simmons was honored by the YMCA with their 2019 Brotherhood Award and was named to the 2018 Ebony Power 100 list. Simmons was honored by WISE LA with their 2017 Woman of Inspiration Award and the University of California President’s list of 2017 Remarkable Women of UC, and the LA Business Journal’s 2016, 2017 & 2018 list of 500 most influential people in Los Angeles.
Raised by The Windy City and Refined by the West Coast, Keri Carpenter is a trained journalist-turned-TV producer/writer. After graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a Master’s Degree in Broadcast Journalism, Keri set out for Los Angeles to continue, expand and explore her passion for storytelling.
From landing a job as an executive assistant to Tyra Banks to later producing several seasons of the hit show America’s Next Top Model, E! News and for networks like ABC, VH1, Warner Bros., The CW and Lifetime, Keri believes there is always more to learn, change, reveal and pursue. In the digital space, Keri has pioneered and created diverse content for brands like La Mer and Target, creative producing for Target and YouTube’s popular comedy series collaboration “Let’s Target” (featuring Tiffany Haddish, Angela Kinsey and Sean Evans) and wrote Target’s first Livestream show, hosted by Tyra Banks and Isaac Mizrahi during New York Fashion Week.
Currently, Keri is focusing on developing several social justice passion projects that will film in two places that have both changed and taught her life’s most invaluable lessons: Chicago and Los Angeles. Keri has learned that knowledge is not only necessary, but essential…especially with the current temperature and state of the United States and the world. Keri believes that experience and education — and educating yourself — are all underrated. And kindness in this career field? (Well, any career field:) It’s absolutely, positively key.
Be it hard or lighthearted news, Samantha makes it her mission to engage, dig deep and deliver the truths of the communities that she serves. For Samantha, this is less of a job, and more of a calling.
An Emmy Award-winning journalist, Samantha Chatman currently serves as a Consumer Investigative Reporter for ABC 7 Chicago for the weekday morning newscasts. Chatman, who grew up in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, joined Chicago’s Number #1 news station in September 2019. Chatman has said she is thrilled to work at the station she watched growing up, and that ABC 7 was the inspiration for her career in broadcast journalism.
Prior to joining ABC 7 Eyewitness News, Chatman has been an Emmy Award-winning consumer investigator for KXAS-TV, the NBC-owned station in Dallas, where she has reported for the “NBC 5 Responds” franchise. Before moving to Dallas in 2016, Samantha was the Business Reporter at WDRB-TV in Louisville, KY. She started her career at WEEK-TV in Peoria, where she worked as a Multimedia Journalist and fill in anchor and weather anchor.
According to ABC 7’s Vice President of News, Jennifer Graves, “Samantha Chatman is a top-notch reporter whose consumer investigations have won awards and resonated with viewers.”
Chatman attended Lincoln Park High School. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a minor in African-American studies. She’s a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and the National Association of Black Journalists. Chatman is an avowed foodie and can’t get enough of Chicago-style pizza.
Troy Pryor is an American producer, actor and public speaker. His stage, on-camera, and voice over work has led to award-winning content including collaborations with ABC, HGTV, Warner Brothers Entertainment, DIY Network, TV One, and Aspire TV. A Chicago native, Troy is an advocate for connecting local, undiscovered diverse talent to mainstream content and media platforms through his production network, Creative Cypher. His collaborations with Oscar and Grammy winning artists, and their foundations, include Che “Ryhmefest” Smith, Kanye West’s Donda’s House organization, and Common’s Common Ground Foundation. These partnerships have enabled Troy to mentor hundreds of up and coming artists and empower production deals that build Chicago’s artistic community.
As a Chicago Scholars 35 Under 35, Black Enterprise TCX Fellow, and ADColor nominated Innovator of the Year, Pryor has a tenacity for innovation and big-picture, strategic thinking. As a former collegiate athlete, Troy was a record-breaking powerlifter and linebacker for the University of Illinois. The youngest person ever to be elected to Chicago’s Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) Board of Directors, his creative approach to content and partnerships have helped cement his role as an influencer and taste maker with brands like TED Talks, Chicago Ideas, Soho House, Next Showcase USA, Black Ensemble Theater and as a mentor for President Barack Obama’s White House project, A Call to Arts. Pryor has systematically built a media brand that aggregates over 2,000 artists, connecting them to the resources and tools that enable new content production for major brands. Through these production deals, Troy aims to support the expansion of Chicago’s multi-million dollar creative community footprint, globally.
Still very much grounded in the values of his church family, Troy understands he is blessed to share his blessings. He continues to spend his time ministering, mentoring, and coaching. Troy’s years as an artist and athlete have taught him that the most powerful muscle is the mind and his goal is to inspire the world as he strives daily to reach his full potential.
Angharad Valdivia, Moderator
Angharad Valdivia is a Research Professor in the Institute of Communications Research and the Department of Media and Cinema Studies. Globally recognized for being a leading voice in the field of Media Studies—her seven volume encyclopedia remains an essential resource for scholars in that field.
Professor Valdivia is also a major scholar of gender, transnational popular culture, and Latina Latino Studies. Her latest book, The Gender of Latinidad: Uses and Abuses of Hybridity, came out this past year and she was recently recognized as a Fellow of the International Communication Association and as a Distinguished Scholar by the Cultural Studies Division of the National Communication Association.
She is also the author of A Latina in the Land of Hollywood (Arizona, 2000) and the editor of Latina/o Communication Studies Today (Peter Lang, 2008), The Media Studies Companion (Blackwell, 2003, 2006), Feminism, Multiculturalism, and the Media: Global Diversities (Sage, 1995) and the communication and culture section of the Routledge International Encyclopedia of Women (2000). She is also co-editor of Mapping Latina/o Studies: An Interdisciplinary Reader (Peter Lang, 2012).