The future was a big topic on the 2022 Sentinel Awards red carpet on Tuesday. The gala and awards ceremony were presented by Hollywood, Health & Society, part of the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center, which provides resources and guidance to television creators and writers to ensure the accuracy of social and health issues. Winners included “Abbott Elementary,” “Never Have I Ever,” “Dopesick,” “Reservation Dogs,” and other groundbreaking series that highlighted these topics through their work.
Annenberg Media spoke to celebrities on the red carpet about their appreciation for diversity in storytelling, their thoughts on the future of television and media, and their advice for future creators. Participants and winners expressed their excitement for the colorful future of television that lies ahead.
Advice for future media makers
“Fame is a fog; it’s steam. It’s not true. There is nothing to aspire to. You want to aspire to do good work. You want to aspire to earn a living as a performer. Fame is nothing to chase. You don’t want people following you around and into your trash can. You want to do a good job and you want to go home. So don’t chase that because the thing is when you chase fame you end up compromising because there’s always one thing you can do to give a little more fame, to get a few more likes. And usually it’s beyond the line that you set for yourself. So don’t chase fame, be professional and nice. You’ll have more opportunities by being nice than by being talented or beautiful, and beauty fades, so be nice.
— Yvette Nicole Brown, actress and host of the Sentinel Awards
“You’re at USC. You are already ahead of the curve; Good for you. It’s just for writing and collaborating. It’s really about perseverance and finding your voice, and connecting with others who are doing the same thing. And, you know, a rising tide lifts all boats. So that’s really it. »
— Elizabeth Laime, winner and writer for “A Million Little Things”
Thoughts on the future of storytelling with digital media
“Most writers are on their phones and on social media while they’re in writers’ rooms all the time anyway. We constantly learn from it or are addicted to it ourselves. So when you’re writing or creating stories, you’re hearing with the world all the time, and it’s a constant, instant scroll, and it’s also how we know what’s going on and what the trends are and how I make sure I adapt to the stories and not just my small perspective.
Emerging technologies and artificial intelligence and all that kind of stuff are very interesting things to write about because they have a lot of benefits, and with those benefits come a lot of social disadvantages as well. It’s very, very juicy because it also represents ways to help the community.
— Megan Neuringer, winner and writer for “Upload”
“The good thing is more people are being seen. The perverse effect is that a certain aesthetic that Instagram or social networks develops. And it’s hard when you see this aesthetic on social media. And then we also see that in our TV shows, and then people don’t feel seen then. But luckily, I’m on a show where there are a lot of different aesthetics.
— Jerrie Johnson, ‘Harlem’ actor
“I think that [social media] informs about what people want to hear, know, explore, what they live, what is in fashion at the moment. But I think it’s been a great informational tool to put you on the right track to research and know things that you wouldn’t have known before if we didn’t have social media.
— Meagan Good, “Harlem” actress
Reflections on Representation and Diversity in Storytelling
“I think ‘Never Have I Ever’ is definitely the one that represented the South Asian community, but the good thing about ‘Never Have I Ever’ is that it represents many people across cultures. and, you know, there aren’t a lot of Indian grandmas on TV, so I was proud to do that.
— Ranjita Chakravarty, actor of “Never Have I Ever”
“I think mental health care in our society is seen as something only for privileged people or for a lot of these white people. And we show that it’s something a South Asian girl experiences and her family supports. And even if she resists it, she really receives compassionate care. I think [we are] showing a lot of people who didn’t think therapy was for them that it can be for them, and maybe it’s not as scary as they thought.
— Chris Schleicher, winner and writer for “Never Have I Ever”
“I had anxiety at a very young age, and I didn’t really know what it was. I didn’t understand it. And I think it’s so important to see that on screen to let you feel less alone, especially as a teenager, you don’t really know what’s going on. It’s so important to talk about mental health, and I’m glad ‘Never Have I Ever’ is talking about it.
— Lee Rodriguez, actor of “Never Have I Ever”
“My father [Jim Henson] had very big aspirations that this would be the show that would bring peace to the world. This would allow him to [help people] communicate when they come from completely different worlds. In this case, different sizes, different environments, but they actually have to coexist and communicate. So that was the central idea of the series.
— Lisa Henson, winner and executive producer of “Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock”
“The dominant culture that has been portrayed in the media for so long has not been that of minorities and marginalized communities. And I think for a long time we all tried to be different to fit in. And I think now we’re finally in a place where everyone embraces our differences. Keep your authentic self alive and nurture it.
We strive to show these stories and characters in our communities and see other people embrace them and then realize that they are universal stories. These characters [from “Reservation Dogs”] helping viewers open their minds to the Indigenous community, living on a reserve and living in those communities. When we have diversity in the media, you know, it changes the way people see people, the way people vote. It opens up that part of your mind because you feel empathy for the characters and you feel connected to them, in a way, because you share experiences. It’s truly amazing to see this show have such reach and impact and have our stories written by Indigenous writers and directed by Indigenous directors, and performed by Indigenous people. Like, this is just crazy. It’s historic. So I think that’s the most important thing, it’s just that we’re finally able to thrive and show off our talents, and people love that. That’s the big thing!
— Sarah Podemski, actress on “Resident Alien” and “Reservation Dogs”