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Turning Exclusion Into Inclusion at BCE Conference 2022

UPDATE 1/31/22: Due to a severe snowstorm on January 29, the Boston portion of the conference has been postponed to Saturday, February 12.

By Molly Loughman

The white, straight, male perspective has long dominated American entertainment, but as wider representation gains momentum, so do conversations around equitable industry policies and practices.

What if you had a seat and say at the table ending the legacy of exclusion? And what does real change look like?

“A specific movie can shape how you see a whole people… But if you’re Black or a person of color or in the LGBTQ community or a woman, you don’t see yourself [fully represented]. Now, we’re seeing we have the power to,” says Business of Creative Enterprise (BCE) program Director Wes Jackson. With 20 years of experience as an entrepreneur and innovator in the music business, he warns the creative industry is marked by reinforced bigotry. “At the BCE, we show you how to use [creative] power for good.”

This year’s hybrid, bicoastal two-day BCE Conference will confront “(dis)enfranchisement: Getting a Seat at the Table,” with a diverse slate of scholars, executives, documentarians, community leaders, and other creatives. 

Join the conversation Saturday, February 5, on Emerson’s Los Angeles campus and/or Saturday, February 12, on Emerson’s Boston campus. Or participate virtually on both days.

The Present Meets The Future

This year’s keynote speaker is Christina Norman, head of content at the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) and a creative advisor to Level Forward, an entertainment company producing multi-platform stories to drive industry and economic transformation.

Panelist discussions will address:

  • The street as a catalyst for new ideas in fashion and art
  • The power of creative independence and the struggles that come with it
  • The challenge of negotiating deals for talent, developing relationships, and monitoring an ever-changing global market
  • Cryptocurrency and its disruptive and empowering origins
  • The role of cannabis in emerging business opportunities; and
  • Navigating the streaming world

For a detailed description of panels, or to join virtually, visit the BCE Conference web page.

“I want to hear from the creative industry professionals, being a BCE student,” said Valeria Ocando ‘22, who has committed considerable time, energy, and passion into the conference as one of its co-founders since its inception two years ago.

Jackson conceived of a BCE Conference when he first arrived at Emerson in 2018. Helping to bring his vision to life a year later were enterprising BCE students Kristen Cawog ’21 and Ocando, whose efforts launched the first BCE Conference in 2020 — featuring Emerson alumna and famed makeup artist/entrepreneur, Bobbi Brown ‘79, among other industry innovators.

“For me, as a student, seeing people make it in the creative industry is such a gift,” says Ocando, a Latina international student. “You will feel inspired. You will have the opportunity to network and just by sitting you’re nurturing your brain. It makes me discover different places I could work.”

The intention of the conference is to spark awareness, discussion, solutions and lasting change across the creative industry.

“As BCE alumni, we’re going to build our own path, so it’s good to get our own seat at the table,” says Ocando. “But also to give so others can get their own seat at the table.”

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