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Variety's Inclusion summit puts diversity front and center

Director Lee Daniels and Participant Media President Jonathan King share a laugh at Variety's Inclusion summit in Los Angeles on Wednesday. (Andreas Branch / Variety / REX / Shutterstock)
Director Lee Daniels and Participant Media President Jonathan King share a laugh at Variety's Inclusion summit in Los Angeles on Wednesday. (Andreas Branch / Variety / REX / Shutterstock)

Variety held its second annual Inclusion summit presented by Mercedes-Benz Wednesday, shining a spotlight on diversity in Hollywood. 

Held at Beverly Hills' Montage hotel, the conference featured conversations with power players such as filmmakers Lee Daniels, Jordan Peele, John Singleton and Paul Feig; CEO of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Dawn Hudson; and actress Geena Davis and actor Nnamdi Asomugha, among others. 

Diversity of race, gender, sexuality, ability and age were among the topics at the ticketed event, which was open to the public but attended in large part by members of the film industry. 

A keynote conversation between comedian Chelsea Handler and civil rights activist and attorney Anita Hill about sexual harassment and misconduct in Hollywood kicked off the conference.

"We are making change," said Hill. "It's not instant, there won't be one tipping point and there will need to be others after this. But this is monumental."

Peele participated in the second keynote conversation, discussing the runaway success of his psychological horror film "Get Out" and the importance of "boundary-pushing cinema."

"Over time, you begin to realize that truth is what works," said Peele. "Time and time again, you realize the more truth you're hitting on that people haven't seen put in this way, the more successful it is."

"Empire" director Daniels talked about representation for characters and actors of advanced age, while "Snowfall" director Singleton was part of a panel discussing the future of inclusive storytelling and how depicting underrepresented communities onscreen is just "good business."

Davis led a talk about gender balance in the entertainment industry, and Feig spoke on a panel about ending sexual harassment in Hollywood.

"I think it's up to our industry to police itself," said Feig. "What has to come out of this moment is zero tolerance."

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