Contact: Gregg Mitchell (323) 782-4574
News Release: November 2, 2009
Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Diversity Committee and Writers Guild of America, West American Indian Writers Committee Present "American Indian 101" Panel Discussion and Special Event

LOS ANGELES -- The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Diversity Committee and the Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) American Indian Writers Committee will co-present "American Indian 101" on Monday, Nov. 9, at the Television Academy’s Conference Centre (5210 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood).

This joint ATAS-WGAW special event will feature a panel discussion exploring contemporary American Indian life, opportunities and challenges for American Indian creative professionals in the entertainment industry, as well as current and future media representations.

Taking part in the panel are: Nancy Miller, creator / showrunner, Saving Grace; Gregory Cruz, Saving Grace's 'Bobby Stillwater,' who portrays one of the few American Indian characters featured on a primetime TV show; Jason Gavin, currently a staff writer on Royal Pains and formerly on the critically acclaimed series, Friday Night Lights, and a member of the WGAW American Indian Writers Committee; Angela Riley, Visiting Professor of Law at UCLA School of Law and newly appointed Acting Associate Director, UCLA American Indian Studies Center. The evening will be moderated by WGAW AIWC member Brian Wescott, co-writer (with Leslie Clark) of the documentary miniseries American Century.

Topics to be discussed include:

  • Create more opportunity for American Indian writers / other entertainment professionals to tell all kinds of stories
  • Communicate contemporary realities and concerns of -- and encourage more projects about -- this story and character-rich sector of American life using Saving Grace and other recent TV and film projects as positive examples
  • Provide a reliable information resource for writers, directors, producers, actors, and other creative professionals so that they may learn more about American Indians pertinent to any project with American Indian characters and/or storylines with which they are already or may become involved
  • Inspire American Indian and other writers to write and/or include these kinds of characters and stories

The Television Academy’s Diversity Committee presents an annual series of provocative events which have included "LGBT Youth in Television: Tweens, Teens & More." "LGBT: Above and Below the Line in Prime," "Diversity in Animation: Beyond the Color Bars,” "4th Annual NAACP Hollywood Bureau Symposium: Artists & Activism," "Hispanics & Television: In Transition," "Television's Challenges in Black, White and Multi-Color" and the Televisionary Salon Awards, which honors individuals who have encouraged diversity in the industry.

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, founded in 1946 at the birth of the medium, is a non-profit organization devoted to the advancement of telecommunication arts, sciences and creative leadership. Known for recognizing outstanding programming through its Primetime Emmy® Awards, the Television Academy also publishes emmy magazine. Its charitable Foundation operates the Archive of American Television, College Television Awards, acclaimed student internships and other educational outreach programs. For more information on the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, its many industry-related programs and services, including year-round events, please visit

Writers Guild of America, West American Indian Writers Committee:
This Committee represents the professional and creative interests of American Indian writers. It works to mentor, encourage, empower and increase the visibility and employment of writers of American Indian heritage, and serves as a cultural and educational resource for all Guild member-writers seeking to portray American Indians in their work.

The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) is a labor union representing writers of motion pictures, television, radio and Internet programming, including news and documentaries. Founded in 1933, the Guild negotiates and administers contracts that protect the creative and economic rights of its members. It is involved in a wide range of programs that advance the interests of writers, and is active in public policy and legislative matters on the local, national and international levels. For more information on the WGAW, please visit:


Television Academy:
Robin Mesger/Michael Samonte
The Lippin Group – 323/965.1990

Writers Guild, West
Gregg Mitchell
WGAW Communications - 323/782-4574
E-mail Gregg Mitchell