Rising Voices

Talent is universal, opportunity is not.

Building the New Future of Hollywood Series

Building a new Hollywood requires new architects. Join Lena Waithe and friends Yvonne Orji, Danielle Brooks, Skai Jackson, Danyel Smith, and Indeed’s LaFawn Davis as they share their vision for a Hollywood we’ve never seen but have always dreamed of. One that will provide women with better work and better lives.

Watch Episode 1

Talent is universal, opportunity is not. Hear Indeed’s Rising Voices mentor Lena Waithe and other changemakers Yvonne Orji, Danielle Brooks, Skai Jackson, Danyel Smith along with Indeed’s LaFawn Davis discuss the power of opportunity in Hollywood in Building the New Future of Hollywood.

Watch Episode 2

Episode 2 of Building the New Future of Hollywood focuses on flexibility. Listen in on how Lena Waithe, Danielle Brooks, Skai Jackson, Yvonne Orji, Danyel Smith, and LaFawn Davis advocate for flexibility in their careers, and define workplace flexibility in 2022 and beyond.

Watch Episode 3

Episode 3 of Building the New Future of Hollywood focuses on inclusivity. Listen to how Lena Waithe, Danielle Brooks, Skai Jackson, Yvonne Orji, Danyel Smith, and LaFawn Davis define inclusivity and what they’re doing to shape better work for themselves and others.

Watch Episode 4

Who better to discuss how better pay leads to better work than this powerhouse group of women? Lena Waithe, Danielle Brooks, Skai Jackson, Yvonne Orji, Danyel Smith, and LaFawn Davis discuss in the final episode of our “Building the New Future of Hollywood” series.

Panelists

Danyel Smith

Danyel Smith

Author & Journalist

Award-winning journalist Danyel Smith is the author of the forthcoming Shine Bright: A Personal History of Black Women in Pop (One World / Random House, April 2022). Danyel is also host of Black Girl Songbook, a Spotify podcast that centers the sounds and stories of Black women.

Danyel’s career has been laser-focused on black creatives making brilliant things. She has interviewed everyone from Whitney Houston to Janet Jackon to Simone Biles to Beyoncé. Danyel’s CV includes being a producer and writer at ESPN, a Knight fellow at Stanford University and an arts fellow at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. She was editor of Billboard, and the first woman and first black person to serve as editor-in-chief of VIBE. She has written two novels — More Like Wrestling (Crown, 2003) and Bliss (Crown, 2005), and Danyel’s recent work appears in the New York Times Magazine, and at NPR.

Her beloved second hometown is Brooklyn, but Danyel is a proud Oakland native now living with her husband, Elliott Wilson, in Southern California.

Lena Waithe

Lena Waithe

Actress, Producer & Screenwriter

Award-winning writer, creator, producer, actor, and CEO, Lena Waithe continues to lead the cultural revolution in Hollywood.

Waithe expertly taps into emerging societal trends by speaking to myriad experiences from her unique perspective while challenging audiences to think outside of conventional norms.

Through her production company, Hillman Grad Productions, Waithe and her team fight against the status quo by giving marginalized storytellers the opportunity to access the industry and tell their stories. Acclaimed credits include projects like Netflix’s MASTER OF NONE, SHOWTIMES’s THE CHI, BET’s TWENTIES, Universal’s QUEEN & SLIM, Sundance award-winner THE FORTYYEAR-OLD VERSION, and more.

LaFawn Davis

LaFawn Davis

SVP, Environmental, Social & Governance

LaFawn Davis is Senior Vice President of Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) at Indeed.

LaFawn leads teams that focus on Sustainability, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging, Social Impact, Inclusive Hiring Products and AI Ethics. She is a frequent contributor to articles, speaker and advisor.

LaFawn has been named Entrepreneur Magazine’s 100 Women of Impact, Fast Company’s Queer50 and San Francisco Business Times’s Most Influential Women in Business. She serves as an Advisory Board member for Lesbians Who Tech and Power to Fly.

LaFawn is also a Limited Partner in Operator Collective, an Angel Investor and a Fellow of the Black Venture Institute.

Yvonne Orji

Yvonne Orji

Actress & Comedian

Yvonne Orji gives a knockout performance as Issa Rae’s best friend and fan favorite, “Molly” on the HBO comedy series, INSECURE. Her stellar work on the show’s fourth season garnered her an Emmy Nomination for best supporting actress.

Yvonne’s 1 Hour Stand-Up Special for HBO, MOMMA, I MADE IT premiered on June 6th, 2020. It was shot in the two places Yvonne called home while growing up, Washington DC and Nigeria. Prior to the taping she embarked on a domestic tour which included sold out shows in New York and Los Angeles. She has opened for Chris Rock in a number of venues across the country including Madison Square Garden and the Barclays.

Her latest feature film is Fox/Hulu’s VACATION FRIENDS, opposite John Cena and Lil Rel Howery which released August 27th, 2021 and became Hulu’s most viewed original film to date.

She most recently is the host of HBO MAX’s latest reality series MY MOM YOUR DAD, which premiered at the beginning of this year.

Her debut book, Bamboozled by Jesus: How God Tricked Me Into the Life of My Dreams, released May 25th, 20221 by Hachette Book Group.

Skai Jackson

Skai Jackson

Actress, YouTuber & Author

At the age of 19, Skai Jackson has been named to The Hollywood Reporter’s inaugural Top 30 Stars Under 18 List, Variety’s Young Hollywood Impact Report, TIME’s Most Influential Teens of the Year list, and EBONY’s Power 100 honorees.

Skai became a household name after her starring role as ‘Zuri Ross’ in the Disney Channel hit series JESSIE as well as the spinoff series BUNK’D. Her performance earned Jackson a 2016 NAACP Award nomination.

Skai has also written her own bestselling book, “Reach for The Skai: How to Inspire, Empower and Clapback,” published by Random House. The memoir explores Skai’s lessons on life and rise to stardom and the importance of self-acceptance, girl empowerment, and her classy clapback mentality.

Skai recently wrapped production on the feature film SHEROES, an action thriller opposite Isabelle Fuhrman. Prior to that, she wrapped production on the feature film THE MAN IN THE WHITE VAN, a period thriller based on a true story about a serial killer in Florida in 1974 who prayed on his victims in a white van. Skai was featured in the Disney+ special THE MUPPETS HAUNTED MANSION and guest starred in HBO’s sketch-comedy series A BLACK LADY SKETCH SHOW. Skai also appeared on DANCING WITH THE STARS in which she was a semi-finalist. On the big screen, Jackson appeared in Paramount’s G.I. JOE 2, Columbia’s THE SMURFS MOVIE, Warner Bros’ ARTHUR, and the independent feature films THE REBOUND and LIBERTY KID.

Other notable television credits include starring in THE WATSONS GO TO BIRMINGHAM, directed by Kenny Leon, HBO’s BOARDWALK EMPIRE, USA’s ROYAL PAINS, and FX’s LOUIE. Additionally, Skai has voiced various characters for DORA THE EXPLORER, BUBBLE GUPPIES, TEAM UMIZOOMI, KICK BUTTOWSKI, Disney XD’s MARVEL RISING, and in the upcoming DreamWorks Animation series DRAGONS: RESCUE RIDERS for Netflix. Skai is massive on social media with 8 million followers on Instagram, 19 ½ million followers on TikTok 1.6 million on her YouTube.

Danielle Brooks

Danielle Brooks

Actress & Singer

Danielle Brooks starred as “Tasha ‘Taystee’ Jefferson” in Netflix’s Emmy nominated series ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, a role that garnered her two NAACP Image Award nominations for “Best Actress in a Comedy Series.” She also received the Young Hollywood Award for “Breakthrough Actress.” Brooks can currently be seen starring opposite John Cena in the recently released HBO Max series PEACEMAKER, the spinoff series to James Gunn’s THE SUICIDE SQUAD movie.

Brooks starred as the legendary Gospel singer Mahalia Jackson in director Kenny Leon’s MAHALIA. For her performance, Brooks earned the “Actress Award for Television” from the Critics Choice Association Celebration of Black Cinema & Television. Additionally, Brooks was nominated for a Critics Choice TV “Best Actress in a Limited Series or Movie Made for Television” Award, a NAACP Image Award in the “Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special” category, and received a Primetime Emmy Award Nomination as a Co- Executive Producer on MAHALIA for “Outstanding Television Movie”

On stage, Brooks starred as “Beatrice” in The Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park production of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, directed by Kenny Leon. For her performance, she received the AUDELCO Award for “Lead Actress in a Musical,” the ANTONYO Award for “Best Actor in a Play, Off-Broadway,” and a Drama League Award nomination for “Distinguished Performance.” Brooks made her Broadway debut in the Tony Award-winning revival of THE COLOR PURPLE, which earned her a Tony Award nomination, a Drama Desk Award, and an Outer Critics Circle Award. She also received a Grammy Award and a Theater World Award for “Significant Broadway Debut.”

Other feature work includes a leading role opposite Anna Kendrick in Chris Morris’ THE DAY SHALL COME, produced by See Saw and released by IFC, and a role opposite Alfre Woodard, Wendell Pierce, and Aldis Hodge in CLEMENCY, which won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize and was released by Neon. Other television work includes a recurring role on Aziz Ansari’s Emmy Award-winning Netflix comedy series MASTER OF NONE, and guest lead roles on HBO’s HIGH MAINTENANCE and GIRLS. Brooks’ voice work includes Sony’s animated feature ANGRY BIRDS, HBO Max’s CLOSE ENOUGH, and Netflix’s KARMA’S WORLD.

Danielle released her four track EP entitled FOUR. Brooks co-wrote the songs including “Seasons,” which is featured in the series finale of ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK.

Danielle is the co-founder of “Black Women on Broadway,” which honors the legacy of Black Women’s contributions to the theater. She serves on the Artistic Board of Urban Arts Partnership, which advances the intellectual, social and artistic development of underserved public school students through arts-integrated education programs to close the achievement gap.

Danielle grew up in South Carolina and is a graduate of The Juilliard School.