#ACT4AWARDS: Holiday Party Celebrating diversity in arts, media and tech / by Dena Mekawi

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On December 4th, 2017 CINEMATCHER, STORYSHIFTER AND STYLE & RESILIENCE hosted a HOLIDAY PARTY CELEBRATING DIVERSITY IN ARTS, MEDIA AND TECH. At an integral time, coming together to celebrate our differences, while advocating for diversity across respective fields.  Honorees Included Alek Wek, Malik Yoba, Telisa Daughtry, M. Alby Bocanegra, Maya Azucena, & Jennifer Brea.

Hosted by Dena Mekawi ( Style & Resilience ) Lisa Russell(Storyshifter), & Lauren Magura (Cinematcher).

The #ACT4AWARDS Holiday Party hosted by CINEMATCHER, STORYSHIFTER and STYLE&RESILIENCE. As three strong women founders, our mission within our companies all revolve around  encouraging diversity and social change within the arts and media industry.

STYLE & RESILIENCE is a media and lifestyle company founded by Dena Mekawi, working with brands and private sector to create more inclusivity within mainstream media driving cultural trends through style and advocacy. Using the power of media, we implement diversity initiatives through pop culture and the arts.  We are making social good the norm, redefining what it means to be a resilient leader. Founder, Dena Mekawi used her experience of self-discovery as an Arab American to work collectively. 

STORYSHIFTER is a new entertainment and creative platform for the social good powered by machine learning and data analytics.  Founded by Emmy-winning filmmaker, Lisa Russell who produces films and creative projects for UN/NGO agencies, StoryShifter houses social good creative content (films, PSAs, music, poetry) and then evaluates its members demographics, viewing habits and subsequent action steps (ie, donate to a nonprofit, support a conscious brand, sign a petition and more), providing content producers with advanced data-driven tools to promote responsible storytelling and to take social good advocacy to the next level.

CINEMATCHER,  a matchmaking app that enables users to hire and get hired for film, TV and digital projects instantly – globally, founded by Lauren Magura. Their users are calling it the ‘Tinder’ for film and TV jobs, but more importantly they encourage diversity in front of and behind the camera. The founder Lauren Magura,  has experience working in indie film production, media operations supporting numerous networks at NBC, and publicity and promotions of record breaking films at Universal Pictures. Her passion for bringing efficiency and innovation to the industry, and bridging the massive gap of connecting creative productions to local and diverse talent, put Cinematcher into motion. Lauren wants to give anyone, anywhere, with any experience level the ability to connect, collaborate and create instantly, anywhere in the world.

 

 

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Alek Wek was honored at the #act4awards where diversity & inclusion were highly celebrated. “This really means a lot to me, making choices, where you want to be, I could have been in London right now but tonight meant more to me because that's who I am," declares Alek Wek, the first black model who didn't conform to a Caucasian aesthetic, the first with an uncompromising, sub-Saharan beauty. Her industry saw her as new and exotic – a savage beauty.

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Malik Yoba was also alongside the honorees being awarded. In 1994, Mr. Yoba began his role as NYPD Detective J.C. Williams on the popular FOX police drama series New York Undercover, opposite Michael DeLorenzo. Mr. Yoba and DeLorenzo made television history, as the series was the first police drama on American television to feature two people of color in the starring roles.Mr. Yoba's work on New York Undercover earned him three consecutive NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Actor in a Drama series. “The coolest part is being in the give a damn business, we live in a world now where people who where on the fringes who were disconnected, disinterested perhaps disenchanted disheartened decided now it’s time to be in the middle of the arena and get active.” 

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TeLisa Daughtry is the founder of FlyTechnista and was selected as a Finalist for Code/Interactive’s Diversity in Tech Awards. Telisa expresses “There was less resources and less visibility of women and people of color in technology, yet somehow today we have more access to gaining technical and digital skills, yet more barriers, crazy right, I am committed to breaking these barriers daily .” listed Top 50 VisionaryWomen in Tech to Watch in 2017 by Innovative Magazine, and was recognized as Change maker for Innovation & Entrepreneurship by The White House: United State of Women,in 2016.

 

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M. Alby Bocanegra is serving the people of New York Chief of Staff, Strategy & Peformance in the Mayor’Office of the Chief Tecnology Officer (NYC Tech). He specializes in talent architecture, people development, project  management, operational excellence, diversity initiatives, and workplace culture. “I learned that I’m enough,I always share the wealth, whether it’s a smile or opportunity to share. I’m always in a state of serving others, that’s why working with underutilized populations has been part of my DNA.” Alby says.

 

   Maya Azucena , a multi-award winning recording artist  and magnetically inspirational woman, is known for making music that uplifts the soul. Maya Azucena devoted significant amount of her career to human rights, and uses art as her weapon. Maya provided music for Emmy -Winning UN documentarian Lisa Russell latest film Not Yet Rain, regarding the advancement of Women’s health laws and reproductive rights in Ethiopia. “I believe in each and every single one of you, that you have the power to affect change, ” expresses Maya while receiving her ACT4AWARDS.   

 Maya Azucena, a multi-award winning recording artist  and magnetically inspirational woman, is known for making music that uplifts the soul. Maya Azucena devoted significant amount of her career to human rights, and uses art as her weapon. Maya provided music for Emmy -Winning UN documentarian Lisa Russell latest film Not Yet Rain, regarding the advancement of Women’s health laws and reproductive rights in Ethiopia. “I believe in each and every single one of you, that you have the power to affect change, ” expresses Maya while receiving her ACT4AWARDS.

 

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Jennifer Brea is a TED Talker, an activist fighting for invisible illness and autoimmune disease, the director of Sundance award-winning Unrest, co-creator of Unrest VR, founder of  Shella Films and co-founder of #MEAtion.Jennifer Brea was not able to be there in person, the ACT4AWARDS was accepted on behalf of her inspiring resilient power in fighting through. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  (Left to right, Lisa Russell, Lauren Magura, Dena Mekawi) Host of the ACT4AWARDS.  Dena Mekawi mentioned “ I knew how it felt not to be reflected in mainstream media, I had self-esteem issues that stemmed from the desire to achieve the ideal standards of beauty. For me this meant that we each are represented properly in the media we consume.” From Miss Arab, to Oprah magazine, Dena has created a path that directly works with those shaping media and culture.

(Left to right, Lisa Russell, Lauren Magura, Dena Mekawi) Host of the ACT4AWARDS.  Dena Mekawi mentioned “ I knew how it felt not to be reflected in mainstream media, I had self-esteem issues that stemmed from the desire to achieve the ideal standards of beauty. For me this meant that we each are represented properly in the media we consume.” From Miss Arab, to Oprah magazine, Dena has created a path that directly works with those shaping media and culture.