Tom Kitt (Composer/Arranger/Orchestrator/Music Supervisor) received the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama as well as two Tony Awards for Best Score and Best Orchestrations for Next to Normal. Next to Normal also received the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Score. He is also the composer of If/Then (Tony Nom., Outer Critics Nom.); High Fidelity (Broadway); Bring it On, The Musical (co-composer with Lin-Manuel Miranda, Broadway); Disney’s Freaky Friday; Dave (Arena Stage); The Winter’s Tale, All’s Well That Ends Well, and Cymbeline (The Public’s NYSF); From Up Here and The Madrid (MTC); Orphans (Broadway) The Retributionists (Playwrights Horizons) and As You Like It (Toho Co., Japan). As a music supervisor, arranger, orchestrator, credits include SpongeBob Squarepants, The Musical (Broadway); Head Over Heels (Broadway); American Idiot (Broadway); Jagged Little Pill (ART), Grease Live! (FOX) and Rise (NBC). In addition to American Idiot, his work with Green Day also includes additional arrangements for their Grammy Award-winning album 21st Century Breakdown and their album trilogy, ¡Uno! ¡Dos! ¡Tré! Tom received an Emmy Award as co-writer (with Lin-Manuel Miranda) for the 2013 Tony Award opening number, Bigger. Other Television Songwriting credits include a musical episode of Royal Pains, and songs for Penny Dreadful, Sesame Street, and Julie’s Greenroom. As a musical director, conductor, arranger and orchestrator, credits include the Pitch Perfect films, 2Cellos featuring Lang Lang (Live and Let Die), The Kennedy Center Honors, 13, Debbie Does Dallas, Everyday Rapture, Hair, Laugh Whore, Pippin (Deaf West), and These Paper Bullets. Upcoming theatrical projects include: Superhero (2nd Stage); Almost Famous (with Cameron Crowe); Magic Mike; The Visitor (The Public); and Williamsburg (with Jason Katims).
Jason Katims is a television writer, producer, and showrunner whose credits include Friday Night Lights, Parenthood, Rise, My So-Called Life, The Path, About A Boy, Boston Public, Pure Genius and Roswell. He is the recipient of many accolades including the Emmy Award, the Peabody Award, and the Humanitas Prize. Katims began is career as a playwright, and is thrilled to be collaborating on his first musical with Mr. Kitt.
Abby has been performing since the age of six when she was cast as a munchkin in her school’s production of The Wizard of Oz. Most recently, she played a lead role in the comedy Good Girls Get High which premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival this year. She also starred alongside Edie Falco, Jenny Slate, and John Turturro in Landline, a film by the same creative team behind the multi-award winning Obvious Child. In television, she recently appeared in “Arkangel,” an episode of Netflix’s Black Mirror that was directed by Jodie Foster, and in an episode of AMC’s Better Call Saul. Up next, she will play Annie in Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of Little Women, out in 2019. She also recently finished filming After The Wedding, alongside Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams.
For as long as she has been acting, Abby has been singing and writing music. She began playing guitar at the age of 7, and is vocally trained by Steven Lutvak. Most recently, Abby has recorded her original music with producer, Ryan Hadlock, at Bear Creek Studio in Woodinville, Washington, as well as in California with producer, John Fields.
Winnie Holzman is the co-writer (with acclaimed songwriter Stephen Schwartz) of the hit musical Wicked. She got her start writing for the TV drama thirtysomething, and went on to create the series My So-Called Life, which starred Claire Danes. She also executive produced (again with Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick) the series Once and Again and (with her daughter, Savannah Dooley) the ABC Family Series Huge. Most recently she collaborated with Cameron Crowe on the showtime series Roadies. Her latest play, Choice, recently had its world premiere at the Huntington Theatre in Boston.
Ben is an Emmy Award-winning composer and songwriter who, in recent years has created a diverse body of music for the devil (LUCIFER), aliens (EXTANT), federal agents (CSI CYBER, HOSTAGES), doctors (OFF THE MAP), glamorous supernatural beings (SHADOWHUNTERS) and criminally inclined psychics (SHUT EYE). His music has been heard in Sundance-winning films and the NFL. Other works include “Another Big Day,” a children’s CD Ben co-created, and a musical in progress based on his experience as a father.
Born in Manhattan, and raised in New Jersey, Ben lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Jackie Sloan. His two children are now adults. He is still adjusting.
Cindy Chupack has won two Emmys and three Golden Globes as a TV writer/producer whose credits include Divorce, Better Things, Modern Family, Sex and the City, and Everybody Loves Raymond. This summer she directed her first film, OTHERHOOD, a story about mothers and their adult (starring Angela Bassett, Felicity Huffman, and Patricia Arquette) which will be released next Mother’s Day on Netflix. She is also the author of New York Times bestseller, The Between Boyfriends Book: A Collection of Cautiously Hopeful Essays, and the story she’s telling tonight appears in her second comic memoir, The Longest Date: Life as a Wife.
Priscillia Kounkou-Hoveyda has worked for the UN for the past 10 years negotiating with warlords for the release of child soldiers from terrorist groups across Africa.
She has been deployed to Nigeria, Congo, Central African Republic and the Islamic Republic of Mauritania at the height of their ravaging conflicts. During those deployments, Priscillia led negotiations with a dozen terrorist groups to secure the release of over 1,000 child soldiers, sexual slaves and girl-suicide bombers. In addition, her work included the subsequent rehabilitation and reintegration of children into their communities - with a particular focus on girls used as weapons of war.
A storyteller at heart, Priscillia has been writing scripts since she was 17 years old. Shaped by her personal and unique upbringing, she is fascinated by the lives and stories she has encountered, and driven to tell the larger human truths through drama and comedy to shift the understanding from a place of fear to that of compassion - to change the way we see each other.
Priscillia secured scholarships to study at USC School of Cinematic Arts, the Sorbonne and NYU law school. Born in France from an Iranian mother and a Congolese father, she was raised in Iran during the Iran-Iraq war and lived through the first decade of the Islamic Republic. As a result of war in Iran, she moved to the projects outside of Paris. She speaks English, French and Farsi.
She is based in Los Angeles and is represented by UTA and Anonymous Content.
Karen Croner is a feature and television writer who frequently writes about other people’s mothers. Someday she will have the nerve to write about her own.
She is currently writing a limited series for JJ Abrams at Bad Robot, starring Jennifer Garner to show on Apple TV, and is also writing a historical series for Steve Golin, Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa for Anonymous Content.
Past feature movies include Admission, starring Tina Fey, Lily Tomlin and Paul Rudd, One True Thing, starring Meryl Streep, William Hurt and Renee Zellweger, and which earned Streep both Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations, and most recently, The Tribes of Palos Verdes, starring Jennifer Garner. She has also worked as a rewrite script doctor at numerous studios, specializing in adding the “female point of view.” She hopes that particular kind of assignment will become (friggin’) obsolete as the entertainment industry evolves.
Croner also has an extensive background in television, with credits including Scattered Dreams, starring Golden Globe and Emmy Award nominee Tyne Daly, Big Dreams & Broken Hearts: The Dottie West Story; the CBS series TV 101, starring Matt LeBlanc; and, for TNT, Cold Sassy Tree, starring Academy Award winner Faye Dunaway.
New Jersey singer Donna Missal has just a few tracks to her name, but the newbie’s enrapturing and passionately raw vocal proved she could capture even the most jaded of listeners. Her mighty set of pipes fits somewhere between the smoky pop softness of Lana Del Rey, the soulful strength and grit of Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard and the retro rocker howl of Janis Joplin, the songstress’ trifecta appeal carries her with a lighted torch to the forefront of today’s crowded musical landscape. A common denominator in all of her music–Missal’s vocal acrobatics –make it abundantly clear that this young singer's distinctly rare talent won't get lost in the static.
Julia Brownell is a TV writer and playwright. She’s currently a writer/co-executive producer on the Emmy-winning NBC series This is Us. She has also written on NBC’s Parenthood, Smash, and About a Boy; The Path on Hulu; and the HBO comedy Hung. Julia’s play All-American premiered Off-Broadway produced by Lincoln Center/LCT3 and has been produced across the country. Her play Smart Cookie was the winner of Kendeda Graduate Playwriting Award and had its world premiere at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta. Her short play “Five Beauty Queens Walk Into a Bar” will be performed off-Broadway as part of the The Pussy Grabber Plays: Stories of Women who Came Forward in January, 2019. She’s a mom of two boys, a marathon runner, and a Boston sports and reality television aficionado.
Jan Oxenberg is an independent filmmaker and TV Writer/Producer. Her feature film Thank You And Good Night, which premiered at Sundance in 1992, and is being re-released theatrically this year by Criterion and becoming part of the Criterion Collection. Jan made three short lesbian films that have been shown worldwide. After meeting Jason Katims at the Sundance Writer's Lab, Jan was invited to write for TV, which was lucky! She is telling a story about one of the shows she worked on, tonight. Jan’s TV Writer-Producer credits include, Relativity, Chicago Hope, Cold Case, Pretty Little Liars, Once and Again, In Plain Sight, Parenthood. She has written a number of as-yet unproduced feature scripts including an adaptation of James Ellroy’s memoir about his mother’s unsolved murder, My Dark Places. Jan is active in trying to save the country and is on the Board of Directors of the Writer’s Guild Foundation.
Danton Stone recently read his short story, EVERY SECRET THING, at Antioch University for the Literary Uprising, and he has taught at Columbia University, also at UCLA. He drives a cab for UBer, and has been a jouneyman actor in such plays as "Fifth Of July", Angels Fall, both by Lanford Wilson, and "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest", all on Broadway, The Mark Taper Forum, Steppenwolff Theatre Company Of Chicago, and in Londaon at the Barbican Theatre. He was nominated for an L.A. Scenie award for his work at the Bootleg theatre in 'Daytrader, and In his hometwon of NYC he shares a Drama Desk Award with the ensemble of John Malkovich's production of "Balm In Gilead", . A twenty year member of Circle Repertory Company.where he co-wrote and co-starred in the play 42 Cities In 40 nights " with Jeff Daniels.TV work on "thirtysomething", "Oz", "The Sopranos",'Sex And The City", Roseanne", The Jury". and Winnie Holzman's "My So-Called Life".In films by John Sayles, Tony Bill, Andre Konchalovski, Lasse Hallstrom, Ken Kwapis. This year his role in "Hand Of God" was seen at New York's Anthology Film Center
Luis J. Rodríguez
Luis J. Rodríguez is author of 15 books in all genres, including the bestselling memoirs “Always Running, La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A.” and “It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions & Healing.” From 2014 to 2016 he served as Los Angeles’ official Poet Laureate. He is founding editor of Tia Chucha Press and co-founder of Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore, both in the Northeast San Fernando Valley.
K’naan Warsame–poet, rapper, singer, songwriter, and filmmaker, is first and foremost a storyteller. He grew up among wordsmiths and musicians in Mogadishu, Somalia, until the outbreak of civil war forced his family to leave the country.
Resettled in Canada at thirteen, K'naan learned English and quickly began to write
in his new language. His albums- The Dusty Foot Philosopher, Troubador, and Country, God or the Girl- earned him critical acclaim including four Juno awards ('Canadian Grammies'). K'naan rose to prominence with the success of his single "Wavin' Flag", which hit number one on the charts in more than 19 countries during the 2010 World Cup.
K'naan then moved to New York, where he shifted his focus from songwriting to screenwriting. He became a fellow at the Sundance Writers and Directors Labs with his yet to be made feature script Abwaan (The Poet) which won him the Sundance Institute Global Filmmaking Award. He has had several op-ed pieces published in the New York Times and is currently developing dramas for FX and TNT, respectively, as well as a musical for the Public Theater.
Colin Martin comes from the East Coast with song and storytelling. Currently residing in Los Angeles, Colin splits his time between many collaborators, students, and friends. As a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, educator and prolific songwriter, he aims to inspire others to find a personal love for music and explore a notion that sound and vibration are necessities of life equal to air, water, food, love and human connection. Bless all of us.