USC Annenberg & HBO Launch Diverse Voices Initiative With David Simon As First Speaker

The USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at USC and HBO have partnered for the Diverse Voices Forums, which will run through the 2017/18 academic year. It will feature talent — both in front and behind the camera — from HBO series interacting with USC Annenberg students and faculty to explore the role of diversity in the future of entertainment.

The Diverse Voices Forums kick off this Wednesday, Oct. 25, with David Simon, former journalist and creator of HBO’s acclaimed drama series The Wire as well as the network’s new drama, The Deuce. Following a conversation with USC Annenberg’s Taj Frazier, director of the Institute of Diversity and Empowerment at Annenberg, Simon will engage in a classroom discussion with undergraduate students in Frazier’s course “Race and Ethnicity in Entertainment and the Arts.”

All Diverse Voices Forums — whose format, size and location will vary — will be open to all USC students. The sessions will explore issues related to diversity, including race, gender, sexual orientation, age and ability, as depicted by HBO original series and well as through the lens of journalism. Other HBO shows whose talent or creative auspices may participate include Insecure, Ballers, Silicon Valley and Westworld.

The partnership between USC Annenberg and HBO on the Diverse Voices Forums stems from a Q&A held at the school last spring with Richard Plepler, Chairman and CEO of HBO, which was moderated by USC Annenberg Dean Willow Bay.

“One of our goals is to create forums for conversation among students and faculty and to foster deeper understanding and ignite debate that can lead to change,” Bay said. She noted Simon’s choice as first guest based on his background as former journalist and his long track record of “integrating different voices in show creation and telling shows from different perspectives.”

She added that USC Annenberg is “taking the unique advantage of being in Los Angeles to include leaders” from the entertainment community involved in the academic process “in various ways.”

“HBO is thrilled to be collaborating with Willow Bay and the USC Annenberg team on this thoughtful forum,” Plepler said. “USC Annenberg is the perfect setting for meaningful engagement between talent and students as this will allow for a better understanding of the creative process and the importance of diverse voices in the landscape.”

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