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Livestreamed on this page on Thursday 24 June 2021 at 2 p.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC -7) / 4 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC -5) / 5 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4).

United States
Thursday 24 June 2021

Business and Access

A discussion on Black Women as entrepreneurs and the disparities in access to funding—Tonya Pinkins

Produced With
Thursday 24 June 2021

Tonya Pinkins presented Through A Black Woman’s Lens—Business and Access livestreaming on the global, commons-based, peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Thursday 24 June 2021 at 2 p.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC -7) / 4 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC -5) / 5 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4).

Business and Access
Black women are the leaders in entrepreneurship, but why can’t we get access to funding?

Panelists: Nicole Brewer, Lauren Ruffin and DeShuna Elisa Spencer

About the Series
Black women are the educators, the providers and the defenders of our community, but we are often left out of the narrative of our own stories. TONYA PINKINS (writer director, and producer of the socio-political horror film, RED PILL) and Howlround have partnered to create a 6-part series with some America’s leading Black women from the world of literature, film, academia, theater, tech and business to discuss and take a deeper look into the Black Woman’s lens and perspective on the world that we live in. We will discuss what scares us, why we are not heard, seen or understood and what changes need to be made to protect our hearts, minds, bodies and soul. We will provide an outline of how as Black women we can pivot, center our stories, and tell the world who we are, what we are doing and how the rest of the global society can get on board.

“This is not a conversation, This a moment to listen to Black women and take action on what we are saying.” -Tonya Pinkins

Artist Bios

DeShuna Elisa Spencer
DeShuna Elisa Spencer is the Founder & CEO of kweliTV, which celebrates global black culture through curated, undiscovered and award-winning indie films, documentaries, web series, children’s programming and events. She’s a former radio host and producer of emPower Hour, a show that examined social justice issues affecting people of color, on Washington, DC’s 89.3 FM WPFW. A Memphis native, Spencer graduated from Jackson State University where she studied communications and journalism. She has written for The Clarion-Ledger, The Oakland Tribune and the Crisis Magazine. Before becoming an entrepreneur, Spencer served as Director of Communications for EdMarket where she ran the communications department and managed all media properties for the organization.

A former AmeriCorps*VISTA and Chips Quinn Scholar, Spencer recently completed her first documentary, Mom Interrupted, which tackles gun violence through the stories of the ones most impacted—the mothers of murdered young black men and women. She is a Halcyon Incubator Fellow, a Voqal Fellow and a Google NexGen Policy Leader. Spencer was first place winner of the 2017 Harvard Business School African Business Conference Pitch Competition and was honored with the Bold & Innovative Truth Teller Award at the 2018 Black Millennial Convention. In 2019, she was featured in “How We Fight White Supremacy” as one of the more than 60+ black leading organizers, artists, journalist, entrepreneurs, etc., (including Ta-Nehisi Coates & Tarana Burke) who offered wisdom on how to fight white supremacy through their work.

Lauren Ruffin
Lauren is co-founder of CRUX. Over the course of her career, she has become a “Jane-of-all-trades” for small and mid-sized enterprises in the for-profit and non-profit sectors. The hallmark of her work is a willingness to take calculated risks, an interest in scaling businesses using innovative organizational mechanisms, and her ability to secure capital for projects from non-traditional sources.

Founded in 2017, CRUX is the only company focusing solely on bringing XR artistic content from Black creators to mainstream users and audiences. As co-founder, Lauren focuses on creating an organization with core principles that are rooted in liberation movements, as well as anti-racism and anti-oppression, and works closely with partners as they create original content and immersive experiences to delight audiences and expand their digital footprint. Partners include the International Documentary Association, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, New York Live Arts, Urban Bush Women, and Black Public Media.

Since 2016, Lauren has also served in several roles, including co-CEO, for Fractured Atlas, a non-profit organization that has leveraged technology to become the nation's largest association of artists and creators. She frequently speaks on a diverse range of topics including ethics in technology, the digital divide, organizational development and culture, racial bias, and economic justice.

Her career began after law school as a lobbyist for a boutique government relations firm where she represented a variety of technology companies, including Comcast and Sirius/XM, providing strategies relating Black and Brown communities nationally. Her work included efforts involving video franchising, net neutrality and regulatory and utility policy, and international trade policy representing several sovereign governments. She also oversaw large public/private partnerships and approximately $30 million in appropriations funding.

After leaving the government affairs sector, Lauren transitioned into fundraising, securing nearly $70m for DC-based organizations Martha’s Table and the National Center for Children and Families. She was also fortunate to serve in various roles at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Children’s Defense Fund, New Leaders, and AAUW.

Lauren graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a degree in Political Science and obtained a J.D. from the Howard University School of Law. She is on faculty at New York University, teaching an Arts and Entrepreneurship course, and has served on the governing board of Black Girls Code as well as the advisory boards of ArtUp and Black Girl Ventures.

Nicole Brewer
Nicole Brewer is a passionate advocate for anti-racist theatre. She’s spent the last nine years refining and practicing an inclusive method of theatre training and practices which she calls Conscientious Theatre Training (CTT). She has authored four articles about the need for the theatre industry to shift from racist and oppressive models to anti-racist and anti-oppressive. Why Equity Diversity and Inclusion Are Obsolete was reported by American Theatre as one of their top ten most read stories of 2019.

Nicole is invited all over the US and Canada to teach and speak about CTT and facilitate anti-racist theatre (ART) workshops. She’s facilitated ART workshops in the UK providing workshops for The Globe and Cambridge University.

Nicole is a board member of Parent Artist Advocacy League (PAAL) where she works to shift how the industry can become more proactive to the needs of caregivers.

She is one of the four producers of the COVID19 freelance artist resource website, freelanceartistresource.com. The producing collective also partnered with HowlRound in 2020 to produce six weekly webinars that centered the needs of freelance artists impacted by the pandemic.

Nicole has had the pleasure to work as an educator at every level of training. Ms. Brewer is currently full-time faculty in the acting department at the Yale School of Drama. She’s worked as faculty in the theatre department of Howard University, Northern Virginia Community College, Duke Ellington School of the Arts, a premier performing arts high school in Washington D.C., and as visiting faculty at the National Theater Institute (NTI).

Nicole frequently shares her work on CTT and ART at conferences such as ATHE, SETC, TCG, The Black Theatre Festival in Winston Salem, North Carolina, and in the UK at Goldsmith’s University.

She was recently awarded the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Gold Medallion for her work training thousands of theatremakers in her anti-racist theatre approach.

Nicole Brewer earned her M.F.A. in Acting from Northern Illinois University and her B.F.A. from Howard University. She's worked professionally as an actor, director and educator.

About HowlRound TV
HowlRound TV is a global, commons-based peer produced, open access livestreaming and video archive project stewarded by the nonprofit HowlRound. HowlRound TV is a free and shared resource for live conversations and performances relevant to the world's performing arts and cultural fields. Its mission is to break geographic isolation, promote resource sharing, and to develop our knowledge commons collectively. Participate in a community of peer organizations revolutionizing the flow of information, knowledge, and access in our field by becoming a producer and co-producing with us. Learn more by going to our participate page. For any other queries, email tv@howlround.com, or call Vijay Mathew at +1 917.686.3185 Signal/WhatsApp. View the video archive of past events.

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