Octavia Spencer, Jada Pinkett Smith Participate in Sundance’s Most Diverse Panel of Jurors

The Sundance Film Festival, hosted by the Sundance Institute, is recognized as the world’s largest convenings dedicated to discovering new films and voices from creators worldwide. The festival is used as an identifier of emerging international talent, and connecting them with audiences and leaders in entertainment. This year’s festival, taking place in Park City, Utah, wraps on January 28, 2018.

Winners of the World Cinema Dramatic and World Cinema Documentary competitions during the festival are often catapulted into the limelight, receiving industry-wide recognition for their production talent, progressive subject matters, creativity, and influence on society’s most relevant conversations.

Actors Octavia Spencer and Jada Pinkett-Smith have joined the panel of U.S. Competition jurors who will decide which films will join the likes of The Birth of a Nation, Fruitvale Station, and Circles as grand prize winners.

Spencer and Pinkett-Smith add to Sundance’s most diverse panel alongside cinematographer Rachel Morrison, of “Black Panther” and “Fruitvale Station,” actor Michael Stuhlbarg, and director Joe Swanberg as announced by festival organizers last week.

In today’s social climate, inclusive voices like Spencer and Pinkett-Smith are of great importance as the entertainment industry continuously strives to depict the variety of cultures, ethnicities, and walks of life on-screen as they exist in everyday life.

Furthering her work behind the scenes, Spencer announced in 2016 that she and Zero Gravity productions have partnered to produce a soon-to-be cultural classic based on the biography, On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C. J. Walker. This biography chronicles the personal and entrepreneurial journey of the first self-made woman millionaire in the United States and Walker’s Legacy namesake, Madam C.J. Walker. More on the upcoming production be read here.

This move by Sundance is a step in the right direction to ensure the inclusion and support of films that creatively display the differing experiences that exist within our culture.

Rachel Hampton

Communications and Special Projects Associate

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Walker's Legacy is a growing global women in business collective founded to establish networks of empowerment and access for women of color in business.