Recognized as a leader in the public relations industry, Shawn Smith has served in senior communications roles with Warner Bros. Entertainment and The Walt Disney Company developing multimillion-dollar campaigns for global franchises. Shawn is currently the director of public relations with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, developing strategic communications campaigns for products inspired by DC franchises including Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman, in addition to creating global PR campaigns for properties within the Warner Bros. Animation and Horror portfolio.
Previously, Shawn was the director of public relations and brand partnerships with MGA Entertainment, leading corporate communications and PR for one of the most successful privately-owned toy companies in the world. She created PR campaigns for hit brands including L.O.L. Surprise!, Num Noms, and Little Tikes. Under her leadership, L.O.L. Surprise! became a media sensation and was touted as the #1 toy of 2017.
In 2016, Shawn became the first senior manager of communications, diversity and inclusion for The Walt Disney Company, responsible for championing Disney’s commitment to diversity through a variety of communications channels to engage employees and the global community. Previously, in her role as a senior manager of communications with Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media (DCPI), she developed and executed strategic communications campaigns for DCPI’s $52+ billion licensing business while leading the public relations campaigns for global brands, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, as well as Disney films and media networks.
Shawn led a multi-year PR campaign to position Minnie Mouse as a global style icon and expand the franchise’s presence around the world. In 2010, Shawn led the PR campaign to launch Disney Store’s innovative store re-design and the launch of the first Disney Store in New York’s Times Square which featured Disney CEO Bob Iger and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg as keynote speakers. She also managed key TV and film franchise product launches.
Shawn began her career as a journalist before transitioning into public relations and she spent more than six years working at premier PR agencies. In her first PR role, Shawn worked under legendary publicist Pat Tobin at Tobin & Associates. She developed multicultural PR campaigns at Lagrant Communications and was a senior account executive in the film and television division of global public relations agency Rogers & Cowan. During her agency tenure, Shawn represented a broad array of clients including Southern California Edison, Wells Fargo Bank, Texas Instruments, and Toyota Motor Sales.
In 2019, Shawn became the first-ever African American president of the Public Relations Society of America Los Angeles Chapter, while continuing to serve as the president of the Black Public Relations Society of Los Angeles (BPRS-LA). In 2018, Shawn was presented with the Pat Tobin Award, BPRS-LA’s highest honor. In 2011, Shawn was named one of PR Week’s “40 under 40 Ones to Watch.” Shawn serves as a mentor to young professionals and has served as a guest lecturer for a variety of college courses.
A native of Southern California, Shawn earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
Syrinthia Studer currently serves as Executive Vice President of Marketing and Acquisitions for Paramount Pictures’ Worldwide Home Media and TV Licensing divisions.
Ms. Studer launched and manages the studio’s division focused on ancillary-driven acquisitions, overseeing the negotiation and acquisition of groundbreaking domestic and international film and distribution relationships. Notable partnerships and acquired titles include a multi-picture relationship with IFC Films including the home media release of the award-winning feature film Boyhood, film festival favorites The Intervention, Goat, A.C.O.D, Ashby and Love, Rosie and numerous internationally distributed features including Academy Award winner, Spotlight for select territories. In addition to her work in global acquisitions, Studer oversees the marketing and distribution of home media releases from Viacom flagship brands Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, MTV and Paramount’s Television and Digital Entertainment groups as well as premier cable partners CBS and Showtime. Prior to serving in multiple prior roles at Paramount, she served as Vice President, Strategic Marketing for Loews Cineplex Entertainment, where she set the strategic vision for the theater chain’s domestic new business development unit and oversaw all ad sales relationships and revenue-generating promotions for the company. Her career also included business development and promotional marketing roles with Fortune 500 companies including General Mills and IBM.
Ms. Studer is an alumna of Michigan State University where she received her bachelor’s degree in Journalism. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son and three dogs.
Talitha Watkins is a Motion Picture Talent Agent at leading entertainment and sports agency Creative Artists Agency (CAA). Watkins is based in the Los Angeles office and represents many of the world’s leading directors and actors. In addition, Watkins helps build out the agency’s multicultural business and capabilities, and creates enterprise opportunities around diverse talent. Watkins also provides insights on multicultural audiences and markets to CAA’s motion picture, music, marketing, and television clients.
Watkins began her career at CAA after six years as Vice President of Multicultural Marketing at Universal Pictures, where she worked across all marketing divisions, including publicity, media, digital, creative, research, and partnerships, to maximize the studio’s outreach efforts to African-American audiences. While at Universal, she worked on numerous films, including the multicultural blockbusters FAST & FURIOUS 6, FURIOUS 7, and the record-breaking STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON. She was also instrumental in supporting the success of African-American films, such as the box-office hits THE BEST MAN HOLIDAY and RIDE ALONG.
Prior to Universal Pictures, Watkins was an Assistant General Manager with Telepictures Productions, Inc. and oversaw operations, sales, and marketing for five female-focused digital properties in the Warner Bros. portfolio, including Ellentv.com, Extratv.com, and TyraShow.com, as well as worked in a development capacity for Essence.com.
Watkins received her B.B.A. in Marketing from the Fox School of Business at Temple University.