AT&T Shape Conference

This weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the AT&T Shape conference at Warner Brothers Studio in Burbank.  There were two super packed days on everything technology, media, and film related.  I was able to attend some very cool panels with people I look up to (Ava DuVernay, Issa Rae, and Diddy) and also saw a lot of cool behind-the-scenes movie magic. The first day, Saturday, was a long day for me- I went to three panels, did a Warner Bros studio tour, hit up the interactive soundstage, and went to the AT&T Film Awards.  The studio tour was cool- I saw the set of the daytime talk show Ellen, saw the superhero costumes, and the props department, among other things.  After two panels and the studio tour, I decided to take a break and get something to eat.  Somehow I wandered into Stage 48 and saw the whole process of making a film from start to finish.  This was one of the most inspiring things I saw that day, especially the mountain-high pile of scripts and the writer’s desk.  I loved the room with the production design and costume design (I have a soft spot for both and have done each on different projects).  I also loved the sound room where they break down the sound and music from a scene in award winning Gravity- it’s crazy how foley, music, and language really brings the action of the scene together. 

When I left the sound stage and went outside, I saw the line for the film awards was a mile long and hopped in line.  It was beautiful to see a sea of melanin showing up for our Queen Ava.  When the awards started, she came on stage to a standing ovation. The energy in the room was out of this world.  We were able to watch all of the short films that were finalists (the were amazing by the way), and Ava commented on each one and had dialogue with each of the directors about the project.  After Ava’s speech on how there is no contest or real winners because everyone has the right to put out creative works, AT&T decided to give each of the top 3 finalist the award money.  Ava’s words were so powerful and moving, and all of the filmmakers were blessed with the funds and resources to help continue to push their dreams.  I only hope that one day I will be able to pay it forward in a similar way.

On Sunday, I was worn out but made my way back to Warner Bros for two more panels.  I was greeted with another melanated line that was showing up for Issa Rae and Diddy.  Issa’s talk with Khadi Don was so inspiring as a lot of us are trying to navigate this industry and be taken seriously as people of color in entertainment.  I loved how Issa talked about her struggles, her writing process, and just how funny and flawless she is.  Her skin! Her pearly white teeth!  Her comfy yet cute outfit!  I stan.

The last panel I went to was with Diddy.  His entrepreneurial spirit is just so magnetic, and you can tell he really has a good heart and loves his people.  He talked about his humble beginning as a paperboy, his open mind and trend trajectories, and how he has the game on LOCK.  When we wake up, we hear Bad Boys Records on the radio.  Got the Sean John suit.  Go to work at Revolt TV or another Diddy corporation.  Go to the club and drink Ciroc.  Then go home and drink some of his AQUAhydrate water before you go to bed.  The hustle is REAL.  One can only hope…

All in all, the conference was hella dope and inspiring.  I got to see three of my faves, and seeing all of these creatives and tech people out here learning and closing the gap between media and tech was very inspiring and motivated me to stay along for the ride in this journey.  Also, I got to hold and pose with an Oscar, how many people can say that? #practicing