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#BeTheChange - Young Entertainment Activists Gather To ‘Reimagine Human Rights’

March 4, 2020
3 min read time
Photo by Kit Karzen
People of all ages, races and backgrounds came together at the Jane Club on February 21 st to learn about and discuss the importance of incorporating humanitarian and social justice efforts into their work. The Reimagine Human Rights panel and workshop was hosted by Young Entertainment Activists (YEA!), a year-old nonprofit out to enact change in the entertainment industry.

“I think it was one of the best events we’ve ever held,” said Allison Begalman, YEA!’s co-founder and executive director. Along with YEA!’s Human Rights Committee, Begalman organized the event to provide examples of Hollywood professionals who have already made strides in the industry by including such efforts in their work.

“The people at our event want to do the work and just needed some direction and a community to bolster them,” Begalman believes. “I feel like we are going to see amazing projects come from the event!”

Melanie D’Andrea, the chair of YEA!’s Human Rights Committee, agrees. She believes today’s political environment can make it harder for some to get motivated.

“Politics and the current state of human rights felt heavy and I was seeing people around me, people who are normally activated, starting to feel overwhelmed and bombarded by the media and news,” said D’Andrea.

“We wanted to shift the narrative from being reactive to ‘What are we building? What are we imagining the state of human rights to be?’” 

The event’s keynote speaker, Vida showrunner Tanya Saracho, kicked off the evening which was sponsored by Final Draft, Urban Remedy, UCLA Skoll Institute for Social Impact Entertainment, and The Jane Club.

Saracho is a trailblazer and empowering figure in Hollywood. She has made space for—and elevated the voices of—members of LatinX community who are often under- and misrepresented.

“When I see the statistics that come out, I get really depressed,” Saracho explained. “I just think, ‘Wow, that’s who we are in relation to this industry?’ But then the only thing I can do is build the world, how I’m building it.”

“There is an alchemy to recognition that the dominant culture will never experience. When you see yourself represented in a certain way, a certain alchemy happens and it's like, ‘I exist, there I am, and it happens both in front and behind the camera.”

The main panel moderated by humanitarian/impact producer Bonnie Abaunza followed Saracho. It featured the human rights non-profits: Human Rights Watch, Reform LA Jails, Miry's List, and Inquilinos Unidos.

A multitude of workshops followed, which Begalman said highlighted an effort to ensure

attendees didn’t just listen; they were taught how to take what they had learned out into the real world.

“We didn’t want the event to just be a panel,” Begalman said. “Once people were inspired by our panel and speakers, we wanted to provide them a space to channel that inspiration and to teach them how they can use their activism in their own work. That is why we held workshops after.”

The workshops included: “A Space for Documentary Filmmakers”, “Impact Producers & Creatives”, led by Oscar®-winning documentarian Mark Harris and award-winning documentary editor Kate Amend; “A Space for Narrative Screenwriters”, “Impact Producers & Creatives”, led by Harriet director Kasi Lemmons; “A Space for Music, Performance, Interactive & Visual Artists”, led by Jarina de Marco and Gina Young; and “Creative Partnerships with Community Leaders & Organizers”, led by Picture Motion and Planned Parenthood.

YEA!’s next big event will be Hollywood’s first sustainability summit in early May.

To learn more or get involved in YEA!, visit their website: https://youngentertainmentactivists.com.

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