Author, TV & Radio Host, Entrepreneur
Quintessential Harlem girl, Gracie Award winner, and life-long New Yorker Bevy Smith is the host of Sirius XM’s “Bevelations” on Radio Andy. Once a wildly successful luxury fashion publishing exec, Bevy shifted her professional goals over a decade ago to pursue a life in front of the camera. A pop culture aficionado and fashion expert, Bevy served as moderator of Bravo TV’s revolutionary “Fashion Queens," and was a former co-host on the nationally syndicated “Page Six TV.” Bevy continues to be part of “The Wendy Williams Show’s Style Squad.” Smith’s debut book “Bevelations: Lessons from a Mutha, Auntie, Bestie” which details her transition from a fashion advertising executive into a media personality was published through Andy Cohen Books, the new eponymous imprint at Henry Holt and Company on January 12, 2021.For the past five years, Bevy has hosted “Fashion for Action,” an annual fundraiser for Housing Works, a New York-based thrift store chain and advocacy group that helps find appropriate housing for people living with HIV and AIDS. In 2017, Smith was named Community Champion of AIDS Organization Harlem United. Additionally, Bevy is on the board of Cool Culture, a charity devoted to raising awareness among underprivileged children. Bevy is also both a formal and informal mentor to many, she takes great pride in being a part of WEEN(Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network).
President & CEO
Derrick Johnson serves as President and CEO of the NAACP, a title he has held since October of 2017. President Johnson formerly served as vice chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors, as well as state president for the Mississippi State Conference NAACP. A longstanding member and leader of the NAACP, Mr. Johnson has helped guide the Association through a period of re-envisioning and reinvigoration.
Under President Johnson's leadership, the NAACP has undertaken such efforts as the 2018 "Log Out" Facebook Campaign, pressuring Facebook after reports of Russian hackers targeting African Americans, the Jamestown to Jamestown Partnership, marking the 400th year enslaved African first touched the shores of America, and the 2020 We are Done Dying Campaign, exposing the inequities embedded into the American healthcare system and the country at large.
As the Biden Administration took office in 2021, President Johnson led the charge in calling for a Cabinet-level position focused squarely on advancing our nation's longstanding issue of racial justice. President Biden signed an Executive Order establishing an interagency effort to eliminate systemic racial barriers and ensuring federal policies are rooted inequity, optimizing the well-being of all in public policies.
President Johnson also continues to be on the frontlines on some of the most pressing civil rights issues of our time, calling out Virginia Governor Ralph Northam for his use of Blackface, condemning the burning of Black churches in Tennessee and Louisiana, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee in opposition to Attorney General William Barr's nomination, and overseeing the NAACP's vote to impeach President Donald J. Trump at the 110th National Convention in Detroit.
President Johnson elevated the Association's visibility and voice as we called for a national response to the coronavirus pandemic that was informed by existing racial disparities in health care outcomes, access, coverage and services, as well as the disparate impact of COVID-19 on African Americans and other people of color.
Recognizing the critical importance of quality health care, he has long advocated for expanded Medicaid eligibility, affordable health insurance options, and investment in community-based health care infrastructure through a strong network of equitably-located, well-resourced community health centers.
Born in Detroit, Mr. Johnson attended Tougaloo College in Jackson, MS. He then received his JD from the South Texas College of Law in Houston, TX. Mr. Johnson has also furthered his training through fellowships with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the George Washington University School of Political Management, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).He has served as an annual guest lecturer at Harvard Law School, lending his expertise to Professor Lani Guinier's course on social movements, and as an adjunct professor at Tougaloo College.
Mr. Johnson is a veteran activist who has dedicated his career to defending the rights and improving the lives of Mississippians. As State President of the NAACP Mississippi State Conference, he led critical campaigns for voting rights and equitable education. He successfully managed two bond referendum campaigns in Jackson, MS that brought $150 million in school building improvements and $65 million towards the construction of a new convention center, respectively. As a regional organizer at the Jackson-based non-profit, Southern Echo, Inc., Mr. Johnson provided legal, technical, and training support for communities across the South.
President Johnson is frequently featured on CNN, MSNBC, CBS, ABC and many others, advocating on behalf of the Black community and all those who are affected by systemic oppression and prejudice.
13th District of CA
Barbara Lee was born in El Paso, Texas in 1946 and her family moved to California in 1960.
Growing up in the segregated Southwest, Barbara learned at an early age the importance of standing up for one’s beliefs and of fighting for equality for all. Currently, Congresswoman Lee serves on the Budget Committee and the powerful Appropriations Committee, which oversees all federal government spending.
Congresswoman Lee is the highest ranking Woman of Color in Congressional Leadership, serving as House Democratic Co-Chair of the Policy and Steering Committee. As Co-Chair, Rep. Lee works to ensure that committees reflect the diversity, dynamism, and integrity of the Democratic Caucus.
She was recently appointed as Chair of the House Appropriations subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations (SFOPS).
Chairwoman Lee is the first African American Member of Congress to serve as Chair of the subcommittee, which funds many of the nondefense international affairs activities of the United States.
Co-CEO, Writer and Director
Hidden Empire Film Group
A prolific writer, filmmaker, director and idea generator, Deon Taylor is the founder of the production company Hidden Empire Film group, which he runs with his partner Roxanne Taylor, a visionary producer and executive, along with businessman and philanthropist Robert F. Smith.
Taylor recently produced and directed The House Next Door, the comedic sequel to the 2016 hit film Meet The Blacks, which was released by Hidden Empire Film Group as the #1 Comedy in America; the taut thriller Fatale, starring two-time Academy Award® winner Hilary Swank and Michael Ealy, which was released by Lionsgate; directed and produced the hit thriller The Intruder, starring Dennis Quaid, Michael Ealy and Meagan Good, which was released by Sony’s Screen Gems; directed the hit feature Black and Blue, starring Academy Award Nominee Naomie Harris and Tyrese, which was released by Sony’s Screen Gems. Tyrese Gibson and Mike Colter, which was awarded The New York Times’ Critics Pick for opening. Taylor’s upcoming projects include the psychological thriller Don’t Fear, which completed principal photography during the pandemic; the sports action heist thriller Free Agents; the reboot of the MGM classic film Blacula; the John Lewis biopic Freedom Ride and CJ Entertainment’s horror title Grave Hill.
In2018, Taylor directed the film Traffik, which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Independent Motion Picture and a 2019 AMAA Best Dispora Narrative Feature. Taylor also wrote, directed and produced Meet the Blacks, which he independently distributed, and the sequel, Meet the Blacks 2: The House Next Door, is in post-production. Additionally, Taylor executive produced, with Robert F. Smith and Roxanne Taylor, the series Be Woke. Vote, an independent digital series and political campaign to inspire kids across the country to get out and vote. It was nominated for two Webby Awards, Best Host and Social Content Series& Campaigns - News & Politics.
Taylor was awarded the Sacramento Filmmaker of the year award in 2016 from the Sacramento Film Festival, Baron Jay Foundation’s 2018 Trailblazer Award, the Extraordinary Families’ 2018 Visionary Award and named the 2019 AAFCA Horizon Award recipient. He and HEFG received the Entrepreneurial Rising Star Award from the Black Business Leaders Hall of Fame and were presented the 2019 Location Manager Guild International (LMGI) Humanitarian of the Year Award.
Taylor has a background in marketing, sports and promotions. A Nike All-American basketball player from Gary, Indiana, he earned a biology degree at San Diego State University, where he was named that conference’s “Newcomer of the Year” for his contributions on the basketball court. Taylor went on to play professionally and still competes weekly in the coveted NBA Entertainment League out of Los Angeles.
Taylor and his family live in Sacramento, CA.
A graduate of The Juilliard School, actress, director and producer Monica Raymund continues to expand her repertoire and pave the way for new female voices in Hollywood. Her creative choices and strong points of view break the mold of how women of color are perceived in front of and behind the camera as she brings to life stories from a fresh and timely perspective.
Currently, Raymund stars in the second season of the Starz hit crime-drama series, HIGHTOWN, from executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer. The series follows Jackie Quiñones (Raymund), a hard-partying federal Fishery Service agent who has her free-wheeling life thrown into disarray as she finds herself at the center of Cape Cod's gruesome heroin epidemic. In Season 2, Jackie joins forces with Leslie, the only other female cop on the force, to bring down major dealer Frankie Cuevas, the man Jackie holds responsible for the death of her best friend, Junior. Through it all, Jackie continues to walk the tightrope of sobriety that she struggled through in Season 1.
Behind the camera, Raymund was part of the inaugural class of Female Forward, NBC’s initiative aimed at increasing female representation in the director’s chair. On television, she directed an episode of HIGHTOWN for the new season and recently wrapped production on directing the Season 4 finale episode of USA’s THE SINNER as well as an episode of LAW & ORDER: ORGANIZED CRIME. Last year, Raymund directed episodes of CBS’s FBI, and in 2018, she directed an episode of LAW & ORDER: SVU. Lastly, in 2016, she directed the short film TANYA for the Hidden Tears Project, a non-profit media company developing content to bring awareness to sex trafficking.
Raymund is perhaps best known for her role as ‘Gabriela Dawson’ spanning eight seasons on NBC’s hit series CHICAGO FIRE. As part of Dick Wolf’s popular “Chicago” franchise, the series follows the personal and professional lives of the firefighters, paramedics and first responders working at the Chicago Fire Department. Raymund received an Imagen Award for “Best Actress, Television” in 2013 for her performance, and was subsequently nominated an additional three times. Her additional television credits include Michelle and Robert King’s THE GOOD WIFE, Mitchell Burgess and Robin Green’s BLUE BLOODS, David Pasquesi’s SPECIAL SKILLS, and a 3-season arc on Fox’s LIE TO ME opposite Tim Roth and Mekhi Phifer.
On the big screen, Raymund has starred in Nicholas Jarecki’s thriller ARBITRAGE opposite Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon, as the lead of Stephen Elliott’s drama HAPPY BABY opposite Bill Heck, and in Mahesh Pailoor’s BRAHMIN BULLS.
Executive Producer, Director, Actress and Acting Coach
Tasha Smith is an unstoppable force. Carrying the motto to “stay on your mark and stay focused”, this actor, director, producer and teacher has done just that to the delight of moviegoers and television watchers. Smith has been dazzling audiences behind the camera as much as she has shined onscreen.
Since making her directorial debut in 2015 with the short film, “Boxed In,” where Smith tackles the complex issue of mental illness, her work as a director and producer strives to reflect real-life and open audiences up to experiences and circumstances outside of their own. In 2017, Smith was once again at the helm for TV One’s film “When Love Kills: The Falicia Blakely Story,” starring recording artist and actress, Lil Mama. For this project, Smith takes on a bevy of tough topics including teen pregnancy, the dark side of exotic dancing and the fight for survival. Smith’s work illustrates, with careful intricacy, stories that too often go unnoticed or forgotten. Her other credits in directing include several episodes of successful television series including FOX ‘s hit shows “911” starring Angela Basset, and “STAR” with Queen Latifah, the CW’s “Black Lightning,” Amazon’s upcoming Tracy Oliver series “Harlem” with Meagan Goode, BET and Irv Gotti’s “Tales” where she and the industry vet detailed the cinematic song story of Jay Z’s “99 Problems,” and the STARZ drama “P-Valley.”
Fans have been delighted by Smith’s accomplished acting career for years. Her exceptional work in the acclaimed films “WHY DID I GET MARRIED?” and its sequel, “WHY DID I GET MARRIED, TOO?” landed her character of “Angela” a spin-off series with Tyler Perry’s “FOR BETTER OR WORSE” on OWN and earned her an NAACP Image Award nomination as Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series. A former comedienne, Tasha previously let her comedic credentials shine in “Couples Retreat” before enamoring audiences as a captivating cougar in “Jumping The Broom”, later she became a skilled psychotherapist in the 2014 erotic thriller “Addicted.” On Lee Daniels’ “Empire” she breathed life into flawed family woman Carol Hardaway opposite Taraji P. Henson. Her affinity for making characters authentic and relatable is what fans expect when they see Smith, but there’s more to this multifaceted performer.
Already well accomplished and astute in her craft, Smith takes pride in nurturing and mentoring new talent through her Tasha Smith Actors Workshop (TSAW). In her acting academy, artists dedicated to development hone their skills, tapping into their innate artistic potentials. Smith's work at TSAW is multi-beneficial: her students leave polished and equipped with skills for interplay, movement and expression; and she receives spiritual fulfillment from watching them bloom.
“I started TSAW because I wanted to empower other actors to pursue their purpose in the arts,” says Smith. “I thought I was just giving to them but teaching for the past 15 years has helped me transition in my directing career. It empowered me.
”Her passion for teaching has taken her across continents and cities, from Los Angeles to New York and Atlanta to Africa.
Most recently, Smith took on the role of Executive Producer for the upcoming STARZ series, “Black Mafia Family” where she also directed the premiere episode, several episodes including the season finale. She also severed as Executive Producer for BET Documentary, “Strip Down: The Naked Truth,” where she also serves as host and narrator. The BET Original is an in-depth examination of stripper culture and features real-life stories of female strippers from around the country - providing a look at a lifestyle that is often misrepresented and glorified in pop culture.
On and off screen, Smith’s commanding presence draws the attention of people enamored by her vigor and inspirational life story. Smith is adamant that her career is not per chance, but an intangible calling summoned to her since childhood.
“I always had the dream,” says Smith. “I always say dreams are not figments of our imagination but God showing us a glimpse of our future."
“I just believe that the circumstances you’re born in don’t necessarily determine your future,” she adds. “I believe that our passion give us purpose and our purpose gives us prosperity.”
Power Book II: Ghost
Larenz Tate has wooed audiences for his performance as Councilman Rashad Tate in the hit premium cable series “Power” for Starz. He is reprising his role for the series corollary, “Power Book II: Ghost.”
In film, Tate has starred in Allen and Albert Hughes' classic films Menace II Society and Dead Presidents, as well as Inkwell, Why Do Fools Fall In Love (producedby Paul Hall), A Man Apart, Waist Deep, Deuces, Ray, the three-time Academy Award-winning film Crash, and, most recently, the hit comedy Girls Trip. Outside of “Power,” Tate’s other TV credits include, “House Of Lies,” “Rush,” “Rescue Me,” “Game Of Silence” and more.
He’s currently developing projects to produce for film, television, digital and audio along with producing partners LaRon Tate& Lahmard Tate and their company Tate Men Entertainment.
STARZ#TakeTheLead Transparency Talks:
Legacy of MLK Jr. and the Impact on Storytelling
January 26, 2022
12pm - 1pm PT
NAACP President Derrick Johnson and highest-ranking Congresswoman Barbara Lee join influential voices to discuss the importance of speaking powerful truth based on principles and examples paved by Martin Luther King Jr., and how narratives within media have an impact on society.
In Partnership With:
President & CEO
13th District of CA
Hidden Empire Film Group
La La Anthony
Entrepreneur and Actress
Power and BMF
Eva Longoria Baston
Director & Activist
The Latinx House
Actor, Choreographer, Advocate
Deputy Don Graves
U.S. Department of Commerce
President & CEO
Executive Producer, Director, Actress and Acting Coach
Power Book II: Ghost
Rep. Joaquin Castro
Member of Congress
Chief Diversity Officer and SVP, Human Resources
Madeline Di Nonno
President and CEO
Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
CAPE (Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment)
Elizabeth Méndez Berry
Vice President and
Director of Inclusion
Writers Guild of America
Author, TV &
Radio Host, Entrepreneur