Wednesday May 2nd - 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
It all starts with a story. Building a creative, innovative, and inclusive team is the key to great storytelling. This panel will look at how creatives, in front and behind the camera, can deliver stories that are not only meaningful and diverse but free from bias. Let’s tell stories that reflect the world we see around us.
Vice President, Content Strategy & Inclusive Programming
Nikkole Denson-Randolph joined AMC Theatres in September 2009 after accumulating more than a decade of business development experience in the entertainment arena. In her current position, Denson-Randolph oversees the strategic development and implementation of AMC’s special programming efforts and initiatives, as well as alternative content and live programming, which includes overseeing AMC’s relationship with Fathom Events. Responsible for almost 10% of AMC’s total Box Office gross, she also settles film rent with independent distributors.
In 2010, Denson-Randolph orchestrated the launch of AMC independent, a highly popular film program designed not only to provide AMC Theatres’ guests with diverse, on-screen storytelling from around the world, including socially and culturally relevant stories that represent their interests, but a direct pipeline for filmmakers who are poised to distribute their own films to AMC.
Denson-Randolph led negotiations for the AMC-exclusive release of the first theatrical Kevin Hart stand-up comedy film KEVIN HART: LAUGH AT MY PAIN. The film’s success and its theatrically-exclusive distribution model were noted by major industry publications as one of the independent film success stories of 2011. She has also been recognized in Details Magazine’s Hollywood Mavericks issue as a Hollywood Maverick, on Essence Magazine’s Hot Hollywood list, in Fast Company’s Fast Talk (as an indie insider serving new films to new audiences), and in Ebony’s Power 100 Issue (as a Screen Saver bringing colorful experiences to movie audiences). During her tenure at AMC, she has also been a featured panelist at the Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Variety Film Marketing Summit and other notable industry events.
Before coming to AMC, Denson-Randolph served as the Director of Business Development for the Starbucks Coffee Company from August 2004 until February 2009, where she fielded, developed, and negotiated music, film and literary offerings for Starbucks Entertainment. Key initiatives included introducing three books which then appeared on the New York Times top 10 Best Sellers list, as well as a partnership with Lionsgate, in which Starbucks was involved with the marketing and promotion of AKEELAH AND THE BEE.
Prior to her work at Starbucks Entertainment, she served as President of Magic Johnson Entertainment and Magic Hallway Pictures, where she was instrumental in building the corporate infrastructure and promoting the Magic brand to unparalleled heights. As a result of Denson-Randolph’s accomplishments at MJE, Mr. Johnson entrusted her with the responsibility of rebuilding and revitalizing MJE’s entertainment division. In less than two years at the helm, she created a development slate of film and television products that solidified MJE as a player within the entertainment industry. Her savvy, creative management efforts spawned an internal surge straight to the divisions’ bottom line, which grew more than 100 percent from its initial capital investment.
Denson-Randolph earned her bachelors from the University of California at Davis. In 1995, she obtained a Doctorate of Jurisprudence from The University of San Francisco, and has been a member of the California State Bar since 1996. She, her husband, John, and their dogs, Doodle and Koko, currently live in Los Angeles, California. When not working, she enjoys supporting film diversity as an Advisory Board Member of the Bentonville Film Festival, as well as serving as a Member of EmpowHer.org, and Everychild Foundation.
Lance E Nichols
Distinguished New Orleans actor, Lance Nichols, starred for 4 seasons on the Emmy nominated HBO drama series TREME, which followed several New Orleans natives as they tried to rebuild their lives after the devastation left behind by Hurricane Katrina. Nichols played the dentist 'Larry Williams', supportive and devoted husband to 'LaDonna Baptiste-Williams' (Khandi Alexander) and loving father to his two stepchildren.
Born in the 12th ward of New Orleans, Nichols grew up attending McDonough 35 and remained in the city through his college years, attending the University of New Orleans in 1973. Having begun as a pre-med major, Nichols knew quickly that this was not his calling. A freshman drama class spurred his decision to change his major, which resulted in a GPA jump and a Bachelors degree in Dramatic Arts and Communications. After attending a national dramatic audition for graduate studies, Nichols was offered entrance into seven different programs. Budget cuts eventually made it impossible for him to attend, however, and he remised to manual labor work, loading trucks for UPS.
Not one to give up on his true passion for acting, Nichols made the decision to move to Los Angeles in 1978 where he quickly landed his first on-screen gig on the widely popular game show "The Dating Game." Though love never sparked for him on the show, following his appearance he was fortunate enough to run into another New Orleans native at a Baskin Robbins, whom he married less than a year later. Today, after 31 years of marriage and three children, the couple are still going strong, having battled the plight of Hurricane Katrina not only on the small screen of TREME but also in real life as a working family.
Nichols is most widely known for his role as the preacher in the 2008 Academy Award nominated film, THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON, alongside Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. Following the success of this role, Nichols landed a part in the Warner Bros. summer blockbuster THE CAMPAIGN (2012), starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis. Throughout his 35+ years of acting, spanning from the early 80s to present day, Nichols has made over 100 appearances on multiple award winning and critically acclaimed television series including: CHEERS, MURDER SHE WROTE, MATLOCK, EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND, AMERICAN HORROR STORY, NCIS NEW ORLEANS and HOUSE OF CARDS. After a long stint in Los Angeles pursuing his passion, Nichols returned to his roots in New Orleans where he landed a role close to his heart - on TREME. He currently can be seen as the River King on the AMC series INTO THE BADLANDS.
When he's not on set, Nichols and wife Zardis stay busy operating Lanzardis Productions, their company that specializes in acting, dialogue coaching and career consultation. They produced their first television pilot SHEPHERD which won Best Drama at ITVFest October 2017 and gave them a pitch meeting with HBO. In his free time, Nichols can be found at home in New Orleans with his wife, or likely at a Saints game cheering his team to victory. WHO DAT FOR LIFE!!
Meghan Rienks is an actress, producer and social media star. She co-created, starred in and produced the feature film, THE HONOR LIST with Lionsgate’s Studio L (premieres May 11, 2018). She starred in two season of Hulu’s popular thriller series, FREAKISH. She has also acted in several digital series including 12 DEADLY DAYS (Blumhouse/YouTube Red) and MR. STUDENT BODY PRESIDENT (go90). Her hilarious podcast DON’T BLAME ME offers funny and real advice for teens. Rienks guest hosts the viral digital show, ClevverStyle’s BEAUTY BREAK. Her popular YouTube channel and Instagram feature baking videos, beauty advice, fashion hauls and comedy skits.
Born and raised in Vienna, Austria, Elisabeth Sereda is a writer and a TV- and radio producer.
She moved to L.A. from Europe at 21 and joined the Hollywood Foreign Press Association a few years after. She votes for the Golden Globes and is
on the production team of their annual awards show. She also hosts panels for the HFPA, her latest, titled "Women Breaking Barriers" was live-streamed at the Sundance Festival. While working as an entertainment- and news reporter, she wrote two non-fiction books about the film business for the German-speaking market. Her first novel "Casket Girls" about the troubles and triumphs of women in French Colonial New Orleans will be released later this year.
Elisabeth Sereda resides in L.A. and New Orleans
Jenna Laurenzo, a Jersey girl born and raised, is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, where she received her BHA in Drama & English, with a focus in directing and writing. After four years in Pittsburgh, Jenna trained at Michael Howard's acting conservatory in NYC. She started creating content for the web; a handful of digital shorts and web series. Her short film Girl Night Stand went viral online, garnering well over 3 million views on Youtube & Vimeo, and was unexpectedly translated and subtitled in many other languages by lesbian fans from around the world (she's big in China). While touring the festival circuit with Girl Night Stand, Jenna met comedy-legend Bobby Farrelly, who saw her short, read Lez Bomb, and came on board as executive producer. Lez Bomb is Jenna's feature length directorial debut. It was shot in and around her hometown of Ramsey, New Jersey. Jenna's currently working on her next feature, and developing a number of projects for television.