Aug. 4



Luminary Conversation: Marcia Smith and Dyana Williams

Marcia Smith knows a thing or two about building your own. As the President of Firelight Media, which in 2000 she co-founded along with Stanley Nelson, Smith’s experience as a cultural organizer, filmmaker and producer can illuminate pathways for how we might vision, strategize and edify from a place of abundance and collectivity. Join Marcia Smith, the 2019 BlackStar Luminary Award Recipient in conversation with radio and music industry trailblazer Dyana Williams as these two cultural architects get into the layered dimensions of doing the work.


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Marcia Smith

President, Firelight Media

Marcia Smith is President of Firelight Media. Firelight’s most recent film is Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities, that premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Firelight’s previous film, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, was released to rave reviews in 2015, and after a successful theatrical run, broke PBS records for broadcast viewership, streaming, and social media. Films emerging from Firelight’s Documentary Lab have premiered at Sundance, MoMA, Tribeca, Hot Docs, and other prestigious festivals. Many have aired nationally on PBS and commercial cable platforms. Marcia co-founded Firelight in 2000, and led the organization for the next eight years. Prior to returning to Firelight in 2012, Marcia served as Senior Vice President at The Atlantic Philanthropies, a multi-billion dollar charitable foundation active in seven countries. Among other awards, Marcia has received a Primetime Emmy nomination for writing, won the Writers’ Guild Award for best nonfiction writing, and was honored with a 2016 Muse Award from New York Women in Film & Television.

Dyana Williams

Journalist, Producer, Reporter, Documentarian

Dyana Williams is an entertainment powerhouse. An award winning broadcast professional for more than 40 years, the Harlem native’s career has included diverse experiences. A music activist, print journalist, television producer, reporter, documentarian, Dyana is also a popular speaker at colleges, universities, corporations globally. Williams is also CEO of Influence Entertainment, where she has assisted in engineering media strategies for a diverse clientele, past and present, including Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Mary Mary, T,I, The Zac Brown Band, four American Idols, one Real Housewife of Atlanta, one cast member from Love & Hip-Hop Atlanta, among others. Dyana is a frequent on camera commentator for TV One’s landmark NAACP Image Award music docu-series, Unsung where she also served as co-executive producer of the highly acclaimed Teddy Pendergrass episode. Currently, Dyana is the host of Afternoon Delight on Radio One Philadelphia’s Classix1079 and is an entertainment contributor to Chasing News, which airs on Fox 29 in Philadelphia, For 5 in New York and My9NJ in New Jersey. Dyana relishes her work as a freelance voiceover artist and for several years, has voiced TV One’s Lexus Verses And Flow and the McDonald’s 365Black Awards which aired on BET. Williams is a go-to commentator on African American music and culture, appearing on CNN, PBS, MTV, BET, Good Day Philadelphia, and The Tom Joyner Morning Show. Williams has also been profiled in the Huffington Post, NBC Black, Essence, VIBE, Black Enterprise, Ebony, Jet, Rolling Out, The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Philadelphia Tribune. As a music activist, Ms. Williams successful lobbied members of Congress and was elated when House Concurrent Bill 509 passed. The bill recognizes African-American music as a viable cultural and economic entity, and further established June as Black Music Month nationally. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush both recognized her in the White House. During her tenure as co-producer of the prestigious Marian Anderson Award, in collaboration with Pat Moran, she organized tributes to Berry Gordy, Jon Bon Jovi, Patti LaBelle, and Gamble and Huff in the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. For two years, Dyana served as president of the Philadelphia chapter of The Recording Academy aka The GRAMMYS and currently serves on their board. Williams graduated from Temple University cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in radio, television and film. She is on the board of visitors of Temple University’s Klein School of Media and Communication. Committed to the perpetuation of American culture, Dyana is also a member of the advisory board of the National Museum of African-American Museum in Nashville. A proud mother of three adult children, Caliph, Salahdeen and Idia, Dyana is a devoted Nana to her beloved grandson, Luke Gamble!