Tuesday June 27th, 7-9pm (doors open at 6:30pm) @
We will have 5 fascinating speakers will share their viewpoints on the theme of “Breaking Barriers.” We will explore various aspects of this theme through talks about personal motivation, storytelling, and the limits of technology. The purpose behind the choice of this theme is to connect, celebrate, and share the stories of those who have crossed hurdles and gotten remarkable things accomplished.
This event will feature live speakers, live music, snacks, and refreshments.
MPC Address: 8921 Lindblade St, Culver City, CA 90232
Semaj grew up in the midst of violence, chaos and dysfunction in South Central Los Angeles. He was placed in various foster homes where he was emotionally and physically abused. With no guidance at home, he turned to life on the streets. As a teenager, his participation in two programs—the Brotherhood Crusade and BLOOM—inspired Semaj to get a high school diploma, attend college and engage in self-development.
In October 2015, while attending a Juvenile Justice conference on community safety in Savannah, GA, a teenager attempted to rob Semaj and then shot him in the back, leaving Semaj paralyzed from the waist down. After rehabilitation for his spinal cord injury, Semaj returned to Savannah to live, study and help problem solve.
His desire to run to the fire instead of away from it motivated him to create his own organization, F.I.R.E., which stands for Forgiveness, Introspection, Respect and Education.
Angela Marie Hutchinson
Angela Marie Hutchinson is a writer, producer, casting director and former talent agent. She has authored six books available on Amazon, including a comedic adventure memoir, "BReaKiNG iNTo HoLLyWooD," and four children's picture books. Her first e-book, “DBA: Doing Business As,” was named by Rolling Out magazine as “the go-to guide for entrepreneurs to launch a business in 24 hours.” Hutchinson has been featured in several publications as a power player breaking barriers and empowering professionals to achieve their dreams.
A Chicago native with 15 years of industry experience, Hutchinson has worked for MGM, Warner Bros. Television and the GRAMMYs. As a casting director, she has cast veteran actors such as Billy Dee Williams, Lynne Whitfield and Vanessa A. Williams. Hutchinson's first feature film that she produced, wrote and cast, "Hollywood Chaos," starred Vanessa Simmons and aired on Hulu. In 2016, Hutchinson directed and produced the PBS documentary, “H.U.S.H.,” about Hollywood’s Uncovered Sexual Harassment.
In 2005, Hutchinson was elected as the first African-American president of the Scriptwriters Network, established in 1986. After serving a year tenure, she founded BReaKiNG iNTo HoLLyWooD, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that helps entertainment professionals pursue their careers. An alumnus of the University of Michigan, Hutchinson earned her B.S.E. in Industrial & Operations Engineering. She also has a Cross-Media Journalism certificate from USC. As a former Los Angeles City Official, Hutchinson maintains an active role in her community. In her leisure time, Hutchinson enjoys rollerblading and spending time with her rocket scientist husband of 14 years and their three young children.
Ben West is an award winning filmmaker and creative director. He has a Masters in directing, over 15 years experience in film, visual effects and design, worked on hundreds of commercials, television, features dark rides and virtual reality projects.
He started his career as an Architect, studying at University of Technology Australia. As a designer with Cox Architects, Ben developed advanced techniques for filmmaking and Architectural design on many International projects including the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
In 2015, Ben was featured by UNCUBE, CHAOS and the BBC as an expert in Architecture and filmmaking. He was also a studio advisor at University of California, Los Angeles, for the Suprastudio Architectural Masters programme. His recent work, a collaboration with architect Greg Lynn, is featured at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2016. His relationship between Architecture and Filmmaking continues with his role as lecturer at SciArc’s Fiction and Entertainment Masters programme.
Ben is also a writer and director of in a series of films illustrating a mastery of filmmaking with the use of visual effects. His seminal film 'FREAKS', described as Christopher Guest meets Chris Cunningham, took the internet by storm in 2008. The Award Winning 'FUGU & TAKO' followed, setting a new benchmark for digital characters in a truly original film which has just been expanded as a feature length graphic novel. His latest short film with Framestore Pictures, 'OTHERHALF,' continues the journey representing the evolution of this director's unique storytelling vision.
Ben is currently creative director at Academy Award winning studio Framestore.
Andrew has an eclectic background in the not-for-profit and social enterprise worlds drawing from his expertise as a filmmaker, inventor, writer, chessboxing champion, entrepreneur, frequent TEDx speaker, mentor, Highlands games athlete, photojournalist, and a founder of The Tiziano Project.
The Tiziano Project is a not-for-profit that used to teach journalism to people living in conflict zones and neglected parts of the world with an emphasis on creating jobs through media training that worked in places such as Rwanda, Somalia, DR Congo, Iraq, Kenyan slums, a California youth prison, Israel, Palestine, and South Central LA.
He was named one of ‘LA’s 40 Most Interesting People’ by LA Weekly, was part of a team that won the SXSW Interactive Award for Activism, won the ‘Foreigner’ division of an Independence Day Chess Tournament in Kazakhstan, his work and speeches won MindshareLA’s ‘Showcase Series’, he was featured in the Sports Section of the ‘NY Times’, and he has even received a Certificate of Appreciation from LA’s City Council!
He has a BA in Philosophy from Connecticut College and a Master’s in screenplay writing.
Shira is a mindfulness-based Marriage and Family Therapist and Meditation Teacher who is deeply committed to helping people integrate painful experiences, adversity and dysfunctional relationships into secure, resilient narratives. With a masters degree in Clinical Psychology, Shira is the founder of Yale St. Therapy Group, a collaborative therapist collective based in Santa Monica, California. Shira is also a Curriculum Director and Meditation Teacher for Evenflow, a next-generation meditation app that combines meditation, technology and psychological insights.
As a daughter of a treatment resistant schizophrenic mother, Shira found her way to psychology with the imperative to make meaning out of her own traumatic experience as a child. Shira’s clinical work focuses on helping couples and individuals work through co dependency, ambivalence and betrayal, as well as complex trauma in an age of anxiety and shifting cultural norms. Shira has a special focus in working with adult children of severely mentally ill parents who suffer from schizophrenia, bi-polar and borderline personality disorders.
Artist: Phil America
Phil America is a California-raised artist, writer and activist who has worked and lived around the world. In his work he uses performance, photography, video, installation and sculptures, searching for a better understanding and connection to his subjects while bringing about an interpersonal relationship between the viewer and himself.
In 2017 he has continued his focus on education, helping in the development of a free school for migrants with an attendance of over 1400 students per semester and opening more schools in 2017. He has given 3 TEDx Talks and has lectured at numerous universities and events and in the past 5 years he has worked with the UN, ILO, World Vision and other agencies and organizations to create art projects around the globe. Phil also published 3 books and his texts and photos have appeared in newspapers, books and magazines internationally.
Performance By: Coral Rhoads
Coral began singing with her grandmother at a very young age and was always part of choir and theater through high school. Then, believing it was time to grow up and be serious, she put all that on the shelf when she went to college. Much time passed and slowly, through a long series of events, it gradually drew her back and that place in her heart was rekindled. She now sings in a rock cover band that plays in Hermosa Beach twice a month called Angry Donkey and plays an occasional wedding or acoustic set (her heart's love) at varying places. Let her heart-warming voice sooth you and and bring stillness... if even for a moment.