Promising Speakers at this year's SXSW Conference —
August 6, 2020

Promising Speakers at this year’s SXSW Conference

By Merideth Cox

It’s March in Austin. That means all the hotels around town are booked, venues are being prepped, and you’ve probably noticed that your inbox is being flooded with notices on a daily basis about your favorite bands all playing within the same week. Welcome Austin, SXSW Conference 2017.

While most young people in Austin associate South by Southwest with all-night music showcases, free beer and terrible traffic and crowds, the music part of SXSW is actually just one component of a comprehensive, globally acclaimed conference. Featuring 24 different tracks in the broader categories of Interactive, Film and Music–including brands and marketing, government, music influencers, food, virtual reality/augmented reality, making film and episodics, tech industry, startup village, and making music, just to name a few–the conference allows attendees to explore what’s next in the world of entertainment, culture and technology. To participate, attendees must register for a track, which will fill their day with workshops, panels, keynote speakers, featured speakers, mentoring sessions and parties, surrounded by the people who are movers in the same industry all around the globe.

SXSW conference
Lee Daniels

Keynotes are usually one of the biggest draws to the SXSW Conference. Keynote speakers embody the do-it-yourself spirit, ingenuity and entrepreneurial drive that the conference cultivates. These presentations by diverse visionaries from the ever-evolving worlds of Interactive, Film, and Music are the center of the conference. This year will showcase Lee Daniels, the widely recognized director, writer, producer and philanthropist in both the film and television space. He is perhaps best known for the 2013 critically acclaimed box office smash “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” in addition to his 2009 feature “Precious: Based on the Novel by Sapphire,” which was nominated for six Academy Awards. The film also made history as Daniels became the first African-American to be nominated for the DGA’s Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film Award.

SXSW conference
Gareth Edwards

Another exciting film get is Gareth Edwards. Fresh off of his third feature film “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” Edwards is no stranger to pushing the boundaries of filmmaking. He dived into the world of computer graphics and, through a combination of creativity and innovation, successfully made a career in the visual effects world, winning a number of awards including a BAFTA for the 2005 BBC documentary “Hiroshima.”

SXSW conference
Cory Richards

On the Interactive side, Cory Richards, a climber and visual storyteller, will also be a keynote speaker. Richards was named National Geographic Adventurer of the Year in 2012. In May 2016, he reached the summit of Mt. Everest without supplemental oxygen. His camera has taken him from the controlled and complex studio to the wild and remote corners of world, from Antarctica’s unclimbed peaks to the Himalayas of Nepal and Pakistan, in an attempt to capture not only the soul of adventure and exploration, but also the beauty inherent in our modern society.

SXSW conference
Senator Cory Booker

While the keynote speakers are usually people who appeal to participants in every track, there are also featured speakers, who are industry leaders there to give mind-expanding presentations specific to each attendees’ area. SXSW Conference featured speakers bring together some of the biggest and brightest names of our time. This year, badge holders can expect to hear from astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards, producer and actor Seth Rogan, Senator Cory Booker, Fleetwood Mac co-founder and drummer Mick Fleetwood, WWE Superstar John Cena, and “Game of Thrones” show-runners DB Weiss & David Benioff. Regardless of the attendees’ track, they can expect a remarkable conference.

About Merideth Cox 239 Articles
Merideth is a music writer who has covered bands from her hometown in Colorado to London to Bangkok to Shanghai and finally back to Austin. Led Zeppelin changed her life. So did Dolly Parton. You can read her music reviews at

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