Real Issues, Bold Voices: First Ever Freeform Summit Coming Thursday, January 18

Serious inspiration ahead.


On January 18, we're bringing together the bold voices of some of Freeform's groundbreaking shows to discuss the issues everyone's talking about. From dispelling stereotypes of millennials, to navigating love in the age of smart phones, to having representation without venturing into exploitation, we're starting conversations about how sophisticated storytelling can inspire us to embrace cultural change.

The event will have three panel discussions featuring some of the creative minds and stars of both fan-favorite and upcoming Freeform shows including grown-ish, Marvel's Cloak & Dagger, Siren, Alone Together, The Bold Type, and The Fosters. Also there? Key influencers, tastemakers and pop culture titans who are creating change through storytelling, mentorship and engagement.

We can't wait to hear what these innovators and pioneers have to say, check out details on each panel below. Make sure to follow our live coverage on social on January 18, #FreeformSummit. (Note: All panels and panelists subject to change...because life happens.)

Millennials Are Destroying All The Industries

You've heard it said a million times: millennials are killing everything. Music, dating, face-to-face interaction and now TV. Experts have called this generation everything from self-centered and lazy to spoiled and entitled – but the truth is, millennials are saving the world. How? By leveraging technology to disrupt fundraising, demand transparency from our government, challenge gender stereotypes, modernize retail and break down traditional organizational norms. Join the everyday changemakers of today for a discussion about effecting change and making a difference through storytelling, social connection and creativity.

Moderated by Ariana Romero, Entertainment Writer @ Refinery29, panel participants will include:

  • Kenya Barris (Executive Producer, grown-ish)
  • Yara Shahidi (Actress and Activist; Star of grown-ish)
  • Karlie Kloss (Model, Coder and Entrepreneur; Star of Movie Night with Karlie Kloss)
  • Katie Stevens (Star of The Bold Type)
  • Karey Burke (Executive Vice President, Programming & Development, Freeform)
  • Elaine Welteroth (Editor in Chief, teenVOGUE)
  • Katherine Power (Co-Founder and CEO of Clique)
  • Luvvie Ajayi (Author of New York Times Best Seller I’m Judging You, Speaker and Digital Strategist)
  • Rhonesha Byng (Award-winning Journalist and Founder of Her Agenda)

Understanding and Cultivating Love On and Off Screen

Thirty years ago, Murphy Brown disrupted the social and political norms, giving voice to a baby boomer generation of women who saw themselves in her character – as pioneers in their fields, but still having to conform to domestic responsibilities. A decade later, Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte didn’t just date, sip cosmos and talk about men… They were examples of the powerful women in the workforce who were no longer settling on marriage and no longer being boxed into the sad fate of single, female characters on television. Here we are in 2018 where everything is instantaneous – we can get a cab, groceries, take out, a date and even sex by the swipe of our fingertips. But love isn’t instant. It’s not a simple like or tap and doesn’t always look perfect. How do our current and future television heroes and heroines provide a real-life portrayal of what it’s like to grow in life and love in today’s hyper-connected world? How do you correctly create and showcase the complexity of merging career, love and sex without sacrificing one over the other? And how can our male counterparts contribute to the rise of the empowered female?

Moderated by Kirbie Johnson, Host and Producer @ POPSUGAR, panel participants will include:

  • Joanna Coles (Chief Content Officer, Hearst; Author of Love Rules; Executive Producer, The Bold Type)
  • Melora Hardin (Star of The Bold Type)
  • Esther Povitsky (Actor and Comedian; Co-Creator and Star, Alone Together)
  • Benji Aflalo (Actor and Comedian; Co-Creator and Star of Alone Together)
  • Marlene King (Executive Producer, Pretty Little Liars, Famous in Love, The Perfectionists)
  • Joanna Johnson (Executive Producer, The Fosters)
  • Meghann Fahy (Star of The Bold Type)
  • Trevor Jackson (Musician and Star of grown-ish)
  • Sophia Rivka Rossi (Co-Founder of HelloGiggles)

Exploring the Narrative Without Exploiting It

From first kiss to first marriage, from reality to scripted, narratives of gay, lesbian, bi, trans and non-binary gender characters are popping up across television and film. From Asia Kate Dillon’s non-binary character on Billions to Elliot Fletcher’s ground breaking trans sex scene on The Fosters, television is continuing to push the boundaries and open a dialogue with their audience. Not only are actors portraying the often overlooked LGBTQ+ community, but viewers are seeing them in situations never seen on television before. But to what point are we exploiting a narrative for buzz? How do you create a holistic depiction of a character’s path for the average viewer to understand without discounting the authentic journey of the individual? Does the rise of online platforms where members of all communities are able to create powerful voices for themselves and others help hold the entertainment industry accountable?

Moderated by Phillip Picardi, Chief Content Officer @ them. and Digital Editorial Director @ teenVOGUE, panel participants will include:

  • Amanda Lasher (Executive Producer, The Bold Type)
  • Peter Paige (Co-Creator and Executive Producer, The Fosters)
  • Bradley Bredeweg (Co-Creator and Executive Producer, The Fosters)
  • Aisha Dee (Star of The Bold Type)
  • Nikohl Boosheri (Star of The Bold Type)
  • Eline Powell (Star of Siren)
  • Shan Boodram (Sexologist and Author)
  • Patrick Starrr (Beauty Business Expert & Global Beauty Influencer)

Tell us which characters and stories have inspired you in the comments.

Check out our live coverage on social, #FreeformSummit on January 18. And see more of the powerful stories you love right here on Freeform.

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