KERRY WASHINGTON is an Emmy-winning, SAG, and Golden Globe-nominated actor, director, and producer who received widespread recognition for her role as Olivia Pope on ABC’s hit drama Scandal. In 2016 Washington launched her production company Simpson Street, whose projects include HBO’s Confirmation, Netflix’s American Son, Hulu’s Little Fires Everywhere, the Emmy award-winning ABC special Live in Front of a Studio Audience, and the documentary film The Fight. She is also a lifelong activist and founder of Influence Change (IC21), an initiative that partners with nonprofits to increase voter turnout, and a member of a coalition working to found The Roybal School, aiming to drive change across the entertainment industry for students from underserved communities. For her efforts, Washington was honored as one of Time magazine’s 2022 Women of The Year.
Ruth P. Watson
RUTH P. WATSON is the author of Blackberry Days of Summer: A Novel; An Elderberry Fall; Cranberry Winter: A Novel; and Strawberry Spring. A musical stage play, Blackberry Daze, is based on her debut novel. She is the recipient of the Caversham Fellowship, an artist and writer residency in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, where she published Our Secret Bond, her first children’s book, in Zulu. She is a freelance writer and member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and has written for Upscale, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and other publications. She is an adjunct professor and project manager and lives with her family in Atlanta.
Justin Michael Williams
JUSTIN MICHAEL WILLIAMS brings people together across divides with a multigenerational message of hope, empowerment, and unity. He is an award-winning speaker, Grammy-nominated recording artist, and the author of Stay Woke: A Meditation Guide for the Rest of Us. His latest book, How We Ended Racism: Realizing a New Possibility in One Generation (Sounds True), was co-authored with Shelly Tygielski.
CHRIS WILSON is a Baltimore-based visual artist and social justice advocate. Through his work, he investigates societal injustices, human relationships, and public policies. His artwork is collected and displayed internationally. He is also the founder of the Chris Wilson Foundation, which supports social entrepreneurs and prison education, including re-entry and financial literacy for returning citizens, as well as art-related programs. The Master Plan: My Journey from Life in Prison to a Life of Purpose (G.P. Putnam's Sons), co-written with Bret Witter, is his debut book.
SIMON WINCHESTER is the acclaimed author of many books, including The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary; The Men Who United the States: America's Explorers, Inventors, Eccentrics, and Mavericks, and the Creation of One Nation, Indivisible; The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology; The Man Who Loved China: The Fantastic Story of the Eccentric Scientist Who Unlocked the Mysteries of the Middle Kingdom; A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906; and Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883, all of which were New York Times bestsellers and appeared on numerous best and notable lists. His latest book is Knowing What We Know: The Transmission of Knowledge: From Ancient Wisdom to Modern Magic (Harper). In 2006, Winchester was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Her Majesty the Queen. He resides in western Massachusetts.
An Emmy-award winning actor, author, comedian, producer, and director, HENRY WINKLER discovered fame as a star of the popular television show Happy Days and since then has endeared himself to new generations with roles in Arrested Development, Parks and Recreation, and Barry, where he’s revealed himself as an actor with immense depth and pathos. Filled with profound heart, charm, and self-deprecating humor, his new book Being Henry is a memoir about so much more than a life in Hollywood and the curse of stardom. It is a meaningful testament to the power of sharing truth and kindness and of finding fulfillment within yourself.
LAWRENCE WRIGHT is a staff writer for The New Yorker, a playwright, and a screenwriter. He is the bestselling author of The End of October: A Novel and 10 books of nonfiction, including Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief; God Save Texas: A Journey into the Soul of the Lone Star State; and The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, which won the Pulitzer Prize. He and his wife are longtime residents of Austin, Texas.
JENNY XIE is a writer and editor living in Brooklyn, New York. Originally from Shanghai, China, she graduated from the University of California Berkeley and earned her MFA at Johns Hopkins University. Her work has appeared in AGNI, Ninth Letter, Joyland, Narrative, and the Best of the Net Anthology. Xie is the recipient of a Bread Loaf scholarship and fellowships from MacDowell, Yaddo, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Loghaven. She is a contributing writer for Architectural Digest, Apartment Therapy, and Dwell, where she was also the executive editor.
C Pam Zhang
C PAM ZHANG is the author of How Much of These Hills Is Gold: A Novel and Land of Milk and Honey: A Novel. She is a winner of an Academy of Arts and Letters Rosenthal Family Foundation Award and the Asian/Pacific Award for Literature; was nominated for the Booker Prize; and was a finalist for a PEN/Hemingway Award and Lambda Literary Award. Zhang’s writing has appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The Cut, McSweeney’s Quarterly, The New Yorker, and The New York Times. She is also a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Honoree.
DAVID ZUCKER, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker, the trio that co-wrote and directed the 1980 comedy hit film Airplane!, knew one another growing up in Shorewood, Wisconsin. While attending the University of Wisconsin–Madison, the trio founded a small acting company known as The Kentucky Fried Theater in 1971. They moved to Los Angeles in 1972, which led to their first film, The Kentucky Fried Movie, in 1977. Their next film was the 1980 breakout hit Airplane!, which today stands among the most iconic comedic films ever produced.
Mikhail Viktorovich Zygar
MIKHAIL VIKTOROVICH ZYGAR is a Russian-born journalist, writer, and filmmaker, and the founding editor-in-chief of the Russian news TV channel Dozhd (2010–2015), which halted operations in March 2022. Under Zygar's leadership, Dozhd provided an alternative to Kremlin-controlled federal TV channels by focusing on news content and giving a platform to opposition voices. The channel's coverage of politically sensitive issues, like the Moscow street protests in 2011 and 2012, as well as the conflict in Ukraine, has been dramatically different from the official coverage by Russia's national TV stations. Zygar is also the author of the book All the Kremlin's Men (2017), a history of Vladimir Putin's Russia based on interviews with Russian politicians from his inner circle.