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Salon – Inclusion Beyond Acceptance

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CBS Entertainment Diversity

Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Hosted by CBS Entertainment Diversity

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This panel will convene content creators and business leaders with diverse backgrounds and experiences to share best practices on how they are affecting real change and expanding our concept of diversity and inclusion beyond acceptance or tolerance.


Madeline Di Nonno

CEO, Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media

Madeline Di Nonno is the Chief Executive Officer of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, the only research based non-profit working with the entertainment and media community to improve unconscious gender bias in media and entertainment through evidence-based research, education and advocacy. Madeline leads the Institute’s strategic direction, financial and operational activities. Madeline brings over thirty years of executive leadership experience in the entertainment, non-profit, digital media and consumer packaged goods industries.

Previously, Madeline served as President and CEO of On The Scene Productions, and drove the company’s new business development and content distribution platforms for the entertainment, healthcare, and consumer products clients such as Nike, Gatorade, Iconix, and PepsiCo.

Prior to On The Scene, Di Nonno served in executive marketing positions for Anchor Bay Entertainment/Starz Media and Echo Bridge Home Entertainment where she led global brand marketing, for home entertainment and limited theatrical releases in North America, United Kingdom and Australia. As Executive Vice President and GM for Nielsen EDI, Madeline drove innovations in product development, new business development and client management.

Previously, Di Nonno served as Senior Vice President, Marketing Alliances and Digital media at the Hallmark Channel, and nearly eight years at Universal Studios Home Video as Vice President, Strategic Marketing. Madeline began her career at ABC Television Network in corporate publicity. Madeline holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston University.

Madeline serves on the Board of Directors for the Television Academy Foundation; Board of Advisors for the LA Press Club; Co-Chair, Digital Hollywood’s “Hollywood for Social Change”: Board Advisor GameChanger Films and Rutgers University Institute for Women’s Leadership.

Shohreh Aghdashloo

Academy Award nominated and Emmy winning actress

Academy Award nominated and Emmy winning actress Shohreh Aghdashloo has portrayed a vast array of complex and powerful characters throughout her illustrious career. Currently, Shohreh just completed work on the second season of the futuristic TV series, The Expanse, which is based on the popular New York Times bestselling book series of the same name.  Shohreh plays the lead character ‘Chrisjen Avasarala,’ a smart and passionate member of a political family legacy who has risen high in the ranks of Earth’s governing body.

In June 2016, Shohreh will be seen on the big screen portraying the role of ‘Habibeh’ in the highly anticipated film Septembers of Shiraz, starring alongside fellow Academy Award-winning actor Adrien Brody and nominated actor Salma Hayek.  Based on the critically acclaimed novel, Septembers of Shiraz is the true story of a secular Jewish family caught in the Islamic revolution in Iran.

In film, Shohreh was also seen playing the role of ‘Maria’ opposite Morgan Freeman and Clive Owen in the feature film Last Knights, the story of a group of warriors seeking to avenge the loss of their master in the hands of a ruthless emperor.

A diverse talent, Shohreh has moved between television, film, and theatre with much ease.  In 2012, she portrayed the title character in the legendary Federico Garcia Lorca’s final theatrical play, House of Bernarda Alba, in London at the famed Almeida Theater. 

In 2009, she again used her global platform to tell the true story of Soroya M.. In The Stoning of Soraya M. Shohreh stars in the heroic role of ‘Zahra,’ an Iranian woman, who in bold defiance of threats and local authorities, secretly confides in a stranded journalist about her niece’s murder in the village square, where the entire town participated in the ancient ritual of stoning.

In 2008, she stared in the BBC/HBO mini-series House of Saddam, in which she portrays Saddam Hussein’s wife ‘Sajida’. The mini-series explores the inner workings of Hussein’s family and his relationship with his closest advisors. For her role, she won the 2009 Emmy® for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie.

Also in 2008, Shohreh could be seen on the big screen in a featured performance in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, alongside America Ferrera, Blake Lively, Amber Tamblyn and Alexis Bledel. The Nativity Story, from 2006, directed by Catherine Hardwicke, transformed Aghdashloo into Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist. The film looks at the life of the Virgin Mary before the birth of Christ, following Mary and Joseph’s lives, which includes their relationships with other Biblical characters, such as Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin. Other notable roles for Aghdashloo include: The Lake House, X-Men: The Last Stand and American Dreamz.

During the 2005-2006 television season, Aghdashloo was a critically acclaimed guest star on FOX’s award-winning television drama, 24, opposite Emmy® nominated and Golden Globe winning Kiefer Sutherland. She also captivated audiences as a guest star on the popular television series, ER and Will & Grace.

Born in Tehran in 1952 to an intellectual and creative family, Aghdashloo spent her twenties performing in various cutting-edge performance groups, including the acclaimed Drama Workshop of Tehran. Based upon her work there, Aghdashloo was cast by directors Abbas Kiarostami and Ali Hatami, two towering figures of the nascent Iranian New Wave, to play starring roles in 1977’s Gozaresh and Sute-Delan.

In the late 1970’s, Aghdashloo left Iran for London, where she earned a degree in International Relations. She put her journalist career in the background, when a friend presented her with a play called Rainbow, about the Iranian Revolution and its discontents. Rainbow was such a success that it toured the United States where Aghdashloo was reunited with Drama Workshop colleague, Houshang Touzie. The two got married in Los Angeles during the late 1980’s.

It was her work in topical drama films, such as America So Beautiful and Maryann, which both center around the struggle of Iranian immigrants in the United States, that ultimately caught the attention of director Vadim Perelman. Perelman cast her as the supporting role of ‘Nadi’ in his big-screen adaptation of the bestselling book, House of Sand and Fog, and Aghdashloo’s subtle, simmering performance brought her kudos from the Independent Spirit Awards, the New York Film Critics, and the Los Angeles Film Critics associations, all of which named her 2003’s Best Supporting Actress. The Academy followed suit nominating Shohreh as an Oscar® contender.

Vic Mahoney

Director, Producer, Writer and Actress

Marking her debut feature film, Mahoney developed Yelling to the Sky through the Directors and Screenwriters Sundance Institute Labs and was named an Auerbach Screenwriting Fellow, Annenberg Film Fellow, Cinereach Fellow, Maryland Fellow, IFP Narrative Lab fellow and a Tribeca Film Fellow.

Also named one of, “25 New Faces of Independent Film” by Filmmaker Magazine, one of, ShadowAndAct/IndieWire’s “Filmmakers to Watch” and one of, "3 Filmmakers to Watch" in Elle Magazine’s, Women In Hollywood issue.

Yelling to the Sky starring Zoe Kravitz, Jason Clarke, Gabourey Sidibe and Tim Blake Nelson, had its World Premiere in Competition at the 2011 Berlin Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Golden Bear, thereby anointing Mahoney as only the fourth American Woman, Writer/Director, invited to Competition in over sixty one years.

Followed by a North American Premiere at the SXSW Film Festival and global screenings in Competition at; Deauville, Mumbai, Giffoni, Guanajuato, Urbanworld, Gen Art and Film Society Lincoln Center among others.

Mahoney directed the Pilot Bleached for Issa Rae and has split the past three seasons directing The Conversation with Amanda de Cadenet starring Hillary Clinton, Ashley Madekwe, Jane Fonda, Gywneth Paltrow, Chelsea Handler… and Exhale for Magic Johnson while developing her event series, Chalk_Rx.

In the TV episodic space, Mahoney has directed on Mike O’Malley and Lebron James’ Survivor’s Remorse (STARZ), Ava DuVernay’s Queen Sugar (OWN), and Shonda Rhimes’ Grey’s Anatomy (ABC). She also just wrapped on John Ridley’s American Crime (ABC) and is booked to direct a couple of episodes of Sam Taylor-Johnson’s Gypsy (Netflix) starring Naomi Watts as well as Courtney Kemp’s Power (STARZ).

Additionally, Mahoney and her team are in development on two pilots, 51/50 and Hunter Doe along with her YA feature film Sci-Fi trilogy TopDog! Short films include, Wracked starring Beau Knapp & Alexis Knapp, Graduation starring Don Cheadle and Searching starring Selena Gomez & Shiloh Fernandez.

Nzingha Stewart


Nzingha Stewart attended NYU’s Gallatin School and upon graduation went on to shoot over a hundred music videos for artists like Joss Stone, Common, Eve, Jay-Z, Kanye West, and 50 Cent breaking down barriers for women of color in the music video world along the way. An equally in-demand commercial director, Nzingha has also filmed clips for ESPN, McDonalds, and Coors Light among others. Boards Magazine named her as one of the nation’s “Top 10 Live Action Directors.” Elle Magazine puts her at the “forefront of the music scene.” Nylon Magazine says her work has “pushed the myopic boundaries of what videos should look like,” and Vibe Magazine featured her as an AList director. She broke into the world of film as an Executive Producer on the groundbreaking Lionsgate film, For Colored Girls, and has recently directed episodes of Pretty Little Liars, The Fosters, The Game, and TNT’s hit drama Major Crimes, as well as Lifetime’s With This Ring – an original movie of the week that she both wrote and directed. With This Ring went on to garner three NAACP Image Awards nominations: Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture (Television), Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture (Television) and won the Women’s Image Network Awards for Outstanding Movie of the Week.

Danny Woodburn

Actor and Activist

Danny Woodburn is a veteran of over two dozen films (Mirror Mirror, Watchmen, Death to Smoochy, Employee of the Month) and more than 130 television appearances, with regular and recurring roles on Bones, Tracy Takes On… Murder She Wrote, Becker, Charmed, Baywatch, and Passions. Danny is perhaps best known for Mickey Abbott, Kramer’s volatile friend on NBC’s Emmy-winning, history-making show, Seinfeld.

A graduate of Temple University (BA Film and Theater) and a recipient of their 2001 Alumni Achievement Award, Danny performed in numerous plays (Indian Wants the Bronx, Scapino, Viet Rock) and continues his passion for live theater both as a stand-up comic for 18 years, and a teacher/coach, independently, as well as for the EDD Media Access Office, Actors for Autism, Meet the Biz, and the New Freedom Theater of Philadelphia. Recognizability has afforded Danny the opportunity to speak on disability issues and raise awareness about disability as part of diversity inclusion in society and the media, as a comedian in the club circuit, an interviewee in Radio, TV, Film, print media, (Huffington Post, CNN-HL News, CBC, KPCC, TCM Projected Image, CBS Sunday Morning, Wall Street Journal, MSNBC, CinemAbility—2013 documentary), and as an orator at awareness events and fund-raisers; Little People’s Research Fund, The Inclusion Network of Cincinnati, California RespectAbility Coalition, and the Disability Rights Legal Center.
While serving on the Screen Actors Guild Performers With Disabilities committee he helped negotiate better terms for disabled actors, co-creating the SAG-AFTRA/AMPTP Joint Task Force. In 2009 he received congressional recognition via the Disability Rights Legal Center’s DREAM Award. In 2010 Danny was honored with the Screen Actors Guild Harold Russell Award. This week he will be awarded The Norman Lear Lifetime Achievement Award. (Nov. 18th, 2016)

Brian Yang

Actor and Producer

Brian Yang is best known for his role as Charlie Fong on the CBS primetime drama series, Hawaii Five-0. Born in Columbus, Ohio and raised in the Bay Area, Yang is a second generation Chinese American who began his acting career after he attended the University of California at Berkeley, where he studied biology and dramatic arts.  He works as a producer and actor on projects in both the United States and throughout Asia.

His production company, 408 Films, has produced feature films in both the US and Asia. Currently, Yang is wrapping up an indie feature in New York called I Can I Will Do and a Chinese biopic called My Other Home about former NBA player Stephon Marbury’s life in Beijing. Previous credits include Linsanity which premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

Yang has also starred in films such as Alice Wu’s Saving Face(Sundance 2005) and will be seen in this season’s Hulu hit The Path.  He was also the host of Shanghai Rush, China’s most extensive reality show at the time it aired in 2010.

Yang keeps his base in Los Angeles, but is usually in New York and often Beijing.