Reserve your free virtual spot Reserve Spot

Meet the Creatives Behind Hillman Grad: The Next Generation of Asian Americans in Entertainment


🎥 This event has ended.

Don’t miss your opportunity to join more upcoming events!

Connect directly with recruiters, hiring managers, and experts in your field and find your dream role (its FREE!).

Meet the Speakers

About Diversity Reboot Summit

More Events you Might Like

View more events

Meet the Creatives Behind Hillman Grad: The Next Generation of Asian Americans in Entertainment

Celebrating Global Asian and Pacific Islander Identities

Representation in the entertainment industry doesn’t only happen in front of the camera or on the stage—it also includes the decision makers behind the scenes. In this panel session, AAPI creatives from Hillman Grad Productions, founded by Lena Waithe, discuss how grassroots AAPI movements influence their work, how to tell a compelling story, and the AAPI stories we can expect to see in the near future.

Tags: entertainment, storytelling

Rishi Rajani

Bridget Finkeldey

Rishi Rajani is the CEO for Hillman Grad Productions, the multi-platform entertainment company founded by actor, producer, and Emmy-winning writer Lena Waithe. In his role, Rajani oversees all divisions across Hillman Grad, guiding the company’s strategic and creative direction, while developing new business partnerships.

Since joining the company in 2018 as president of film and television, Rajani has played a key role in furthering Hillman Grad’s mission to “create art that redefines the status quo by amplifying and celebrating the stories and voices of diverse, historically marginalized communities across all industries.”

Rajani works strategically to produce award-winning content and expand Hillman Grad’s burgeoning business. He has secured strategic partnership deals with the likes of Warner Bros. Television Group, a joint venture partnership with Def Jam Recordings to launch Hillman Grad Records, a multi-project development deal with Audible to launch the company’s podcast division and Zando Projects to create Hillman Grad books with additional projects in the works for branded content, fashion, cannabis and kids, to name a few. Moreover, Rajani also originated the company’s Rising Voices director fellowship with Indeed, serves as an Executive Mentor for the Hillman Grad Mentorship lab, and launched a South Asian mentorship program under “The Salon.”

Under the Hillman Grad production banner, Rajani executive produced the series The Chi, Twenties, and Boomerang, as well as the Sundance award-winning film, The Forty-Year-Old Version. His upcoming feature film projects include A Thousand and One written and directed by AV Rockwell, starring singer-songwriter Teyana Taylor for Focus Features; Disney+’s original, live-action Chang Can Dunk written and directed byJingyi Shao; Being Mary: The Mary Tyler Moore documentary, the first authorized biography of the iconic actor and producer; and the Verzuz documentary, Gifted & Black for Amazon Prime both of which are directed by James Adolphus.

Since its inception in 2015, and under Rajani’s leadership, Hillman Grad has grown to include six divisions and twenty employees, rising to become one of the most groundbreaking companies in entertainment.

Born in London, and raised in upstate New York and Portland, Ore., Rajani graduated from NYU before rising through the ranks as a film and television development executive at 20th Century Fox, UTA, Paradigm and Studio 8.

Travis Ing

Bridget Finkeldey

Travis Ing is a film and TV development executive at Hillman Grad Productions. In a previous life, he worked as a venture capital investor in NY before packing everything up and moving to LA, starting over in the WME mailroom. He is originally from Honolulu, HI.

Lacy Lew Nguyen Wright

Bridget Finkeldey

Lacy is the Executive Director of the Hillman Grad Foundation, overseeing its Mentorship Lab and Rising Voices initiative with Indeed. Lacy previously served as the Associate Director of BLD PWR, an initiative founded by actor and activist Kendrick Sampson to mobilize the entertainment industry in support of grassroots organizations. Additionally, she’s an alum of the Creative Artists Agency Foundation and the Randall Woodfin for Birmingham Mayor, Jon Ossoff for Senate, Joe Biden for President, and Kamala Harris for the People. She is currently a board member of Covenant House California’s Advisory Committee, RAINN Speakers Bureau, InsideOUT Writers junior board, GoFundMe’s AAPI Community Fund, and board chair of The Objective.

  • She currently serves on Asian American Futures' Movement Leaders Circle, Asian American Women's Political Initiative Advisory Board, and GoFundMe & Gold House's AAPI Community Fund - taking part in the PSA alongside Olivia Munn and Simu Liu to fundraising for AAPI community orgs, which led to $7m in donations.
  • In March 2021, Lacy was one of the leaders of the Love Our Communities rally responding to the rise of anti-Asian violence in our communities.
  • She produced Lauren Young-Smith/@squidlicker's mural in Chinatown based on her viral Protect Our Elders poster. We then partnered with Custom Ink to sell it as sweatshirts to raise money for microgrants for queer AAPI artists.
  • Her grandfather was Prime Minister of Vietnam before his assassination. My family came to the US as refugees where my grandmother started the Vietnamese American Voter Association. Ada Tseng wrote a small piece on my family in Nov 2020.
  • She has a single line in Jeff Yang, Phil Yu, and Phillip Wang's NYT bestseller RISE, which was put together by her close friend and Coalition for Asian Pacific’s in Entertainment Comms Director Jes Vu. So, if there's a way to tie their exploration of AAPI representation into their current book tour.
  • She is potentially MCing New Breath Foundation's gala next month on May 19th.

In addition:

  • She was the Associate Director and first employee at Kendrick Sampson's BLD PWR org. She co-hosted all in Los Angeles in 2020, launched the Hollywood4BlackLives demands which included signers like Lena, Tessa Thompson, Michael B. Jordan, Chadwick Boseman, and more.
  • She started her work in sexual violence advocacy and awareness. She re-wrote part of the UC Sexual Violence policies when I was 18, getting rid of the 1 year statute of limitations. I'm also part of RAINN Speakers Bureau and was featured in the campaign with Google for their PSA and PAIGE.
  • She previously worked for the campaigns of now-Vice President Harris, President Joe Biden, Georgia Senator Jon Ossoff, and Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin.

Naomi Funabashi

Bridget Finkeldey

Born in Phoenix, AZ and raised by immigrant parents from China and Japan, Naomi has always been drawn to stories that celebrate and examine identity, multiculturalism, and diversity. She began her career at CAA in the Books to Film department, where she sold titles like Bret Anthony Johnston's critically acclaimed best seller Remember Me Like This before moving to the producing side first at Heyday Films and then Mandeville Films. There she worked on such features as Disney's live-action remake of the animated classic Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson, Stephen Chbosky’s adaptation of beloved best-selling middle grade book Wonder, and Tom Harper’s period epic The Aeronauts starring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones. Naomi then transitioned into television at Freeform overseeing a number of projects in development centering around and created by underrepresented voices and perspectives reflecting contemporary American life. She is passionate about changing the conversation and championing the next generation of storytellers.

Meg Alexander

Bridget Finkeldey

Meg Alexander joined the PowerToFly community as a job-seeker in 2014, eventually landing her first remote role working for PowerToFly's Delivery Team. Her professional experience includes roles as a Talent Advocate, Head of Purchasing for a window factory, audiobook publishing, & more than 5 years as a paralegal. She has a bachelor's degree in Art History from Indiana University (mint condition, never been used!), where she also earned a varsity letter for Women's Rowing. She loves DIY projects and will never say no to french fries. She lives in Toledo, OH with her husband Aaron, an engineering technician, and their dogs, Radar & Cake.

Room A