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South By Southwest Announces Lee Daniels As Keynote Speaker For 2017

The festival has also announced its second wave of featured speakers, which include Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Bill Ford, and Rachel Ray.

Lee Daniels

Lee Daniels

Joseph Viles/FOX

Today, South by Southwest has announced its second wave of Keynote and Featured speakers for its 2017 event. The Film Keynote this year is Oscar-nominated director Lee Daniels, best known for his films “Precious,” “The Butler,” and the hit Fox TV series “Empire.” The two other previously announced Keynote speakers are Jill Soloway, creator of Amazon series “Transparent,” and Jennifer Doudna, co-inventor of CRISPR-Cas9, a groundbreaking new technology for editing genes.

READ MORE: South By Southwest Announces Select Speakers For 2017

“We are particularly excited about Lee Daniels as Film Keynote for his unparalleled talent, passion, continued experimentation, and career evolution,” says Janet Pierson, Head of Film. “He’s been the driving force behind so much extraordinary work in a number of ways. His artistic leaps and risk-taking are exactly what we love to celebrate at SXSW.”

The other 2017 Featured speakers are from many fields, including tech, music, film, television, business, and journalism. These include Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Bill Ford, Executive Chairman of Ford Motor Company, and television host Rachel Ray.

SXSW has also announced its Featured Session “Product Mavericks: Top Tips From Women Who Build,” which will feature many panelists that include Stephanie Hannon, the CTO of Hillary for America, and Fidji Simo, Director of Product at Facebook.

READ MORE: SXSW: Complete List of Winners at the 2016 Film Awards

New for 2017, the Interactive, Film, and Music badges will now include expanded access to more of the SXSW Conference & Festivals experience. Attendees will still receive primary entry to programming associated with their badge-type, but can now enjoy secondary access to most other SXSW events.

SXSW’s first registration deadline is September 9th, 2016 at 11:59pm PT. (Early registrants benefit from discounted rates.) The festival will run from March 10-19, 2017. For more information, head to the SXSW website. See all the announced second wave speakers below.


  • Lee Daniels (Film) – Daniels is a widely recognized director, writer, producer, and philanthropist in both the film and television space. He is perhaps best known for the 2013 critically acclaimed box office smash “The Butler”; “Precious: Based on the Novel by Sapphire,” which was nominated for six Oscars including “Best Motion Picture of the Year” and “Best Achievement in Directing”; and for his hit television series “Empire.” His new television series, “Star,” will premiere on Fox in early 2017.

Featured Speakers

  • Cheryl Boone Isaacs – Boone Isaacs is serving her fourth term as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. She has represented the Public Relations Branch as a governor for 24 years. She produced the Academy’s 2012 4th Annual Governors Awards.
  • Kate Crawford – Kate Crawford is a leading researcher, academic and author who works on the social implications of data, machine learning and AI. In 2016, she co-chaired the White House symposium AI Now, and wrote about AI and discrimination in The New York Times.
  • Bill Ford & Doug Newcomb – As Executive Chairman of Ford Motor Company, William Clay Ford Jr. is leading the company that put the world on wheels into the 21st century. He joined the Board of Directors in 1988 and has been its chairman since January 1999. He will be in conversation with C3 Group President and Co-founder Doug Newcomb, a respected journalist who has covered automotive technology for nearly three decades (Forbes, Wired, Popular Mechanics, Automotive, etc.) and is a leading authority on connected car and mobility.
  • Parag Khanna – Khanna is a leading global strategist, world traveler, and best-selling author. He is a Senior Research Fellow in the Centre on Asia and Globalisation at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore.
  • Kimbal Musk – Musk is on the boards of Chipotle, Tesla Motors, and SpaceX. His personal mission is to strengthen communities through food. Musk is a cofounder of The Kitchen, a growing family of restaurants that sources directly from local farmers.
  • Peggy Orenstein – Peggy Orenstein is the author of The New York Times best-sellers Girls & Sex, Cinderella Ate My Daughter and Waiting for Daisy among others. She has written for dozens of prestigious magazines and newspapers, with her articles anthologies many times.
  • Randall Poster – Renowned music supervisor, perhaps best known for his long-term collaboration with director Wes Anderson, as well as directors including Harmony Korine, Todd Haynes, Richard Linklater, Todd Phillips, Martin Scorsese, and Sam Mendes.
  • Vivek Ranadivé – Entrepreneur, technology visionary, The New York Times best-selling author and philanthropist, Ranadivé is recognized for his outside-the-box thinking. He is the owner and chairman of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings.
  • Rachael Ray – Television host, bestselling author and Austin enthusiast, Rachael Ray, has hosted her annual Feedback food and music events in Austin during SXSW for the last nine years which have played host to the likes of The Districts, J. Roddy Walston & The Business, Shovels & Rope, JEFF The Brotherhood, Blondie, Raekwon and over 150 other acts.

Featured Session

  • “Product Mavericks: Top Tips from Women Who Build”: From leading video on Facebook to the CTO for the first woman presidential candidate, there’s no question that there are a group of female leaders taking over in the space of product development and they’ve without a doubt made it to the top. Hear from the women who are defying the numbers, building the products we’re all using each and every day, and are both figuratively and physically shaping our future. Panelists: Merci Grace leads the Growth team at Slack; Stephanie Hannon, Chief Technology Officer, Hillary for America; Tali Rapaport, Lyft VP of Product; and Fidji Simo, Director of Product at Facebook.

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