SxSW’s Final Round of Keynotes Includes Nabil Ayers, Kevin Mayer, and Michelle Zauner, Among Others

By Jordan French Jordan French has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on March 1, 2022

Nabil Ayers, Kevin Mayer with Michael E. Kassan, Maria Ressa, and Michelle Zauner (Japanese Breakfast) Announced as Keynotes.

Pete Buttigieg, Audie Cornish, Brian Eno, Brett Goldstein, Ron Howard, Brendan Hunt, Gillian Jacobs, Daniel Kwan, Beto O’Rourke, Nathaniel Rateliff, Alison Roman, Beatriz Luengo, Ju’Niyah Palmer, Priya Parker, Marty Walsh and More Announced as Featured Speakers
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Austin, Texas — March 1, 2022 — South by Southwest has announced the final round of Keynotes and Featured Speakers, as well as the podcast stage lineup, and Opening Speaker for the 36th edition of its annual Conference, which celebrates the convergence of the technology, film, and music industries. 

The Keynotes announced today include President of Beggars Group US, writer and author of the upcoming memoir My Life in the Sunshine (Viking/Penguin on June 7, 2022) Nabil Ayers with journalist, moderator, radio host, emcee, television reporter and podcaster Andy Langer;founder and CEO of MediaLink Michael E. Kassan and founder and co-CEO of Candle Media, Chairman of DAZN Group and co-founder and Managing Director of Smash Ventures Kevin Mayer with Variety co-editor-in-chief Cynthia Littleton; journalist and author, the co-founder and CEO of Rappler, and the first Filipino recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, Maria Ressa; and Grammy Award-nominated singer and guitarist of Japanese Breakfast and New York Times bestselling author of Crying in H Mart Michelle Zauner.

“It’s been three years since we’ve held an in-person SXSW, and we couldn’t be more excited and honored to bring together not only today’s announced Keynotes and Featured Speakers, but our entire lineup,” said Hugh Forrest, Chief Programming Officer. “This year’s conference really spans the depth, breadth and quality of creativity and leadership that make SXSW the global destination for creative professionals.”

Previously-announced Keynote Speakers include 2022 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominee and eight-time Grammy Award-winning artist Beck with The New Yorker writer Amanda Petrusich; founder and Managing Partner of Brentwood Growth Partners Reggie Fils-Aimé; global superstar, three-time Grammy Award-winning artist and star and Executive Producer of Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls, a new unscripted series premiering this spring on Prime Video, Lizzo; writer and author Charles C. Mann with bestselling author of novels such as Termination ShockFall; or, Dodge in Hell, and the seminal Snow Crash Neal Stephenson; Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund President and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson; and award-winning director, producer and immersive storyteller Celine Tricart.

Facilitator, strategic advisor, acclaimed author of The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why it Matters, and executive producer and host of The New York Times podcast Together Apart, Priya Parker has been announced as Opening Speaker. 

The lineup for the SXSW Comedy Festival was also announced this week and the participants include Anthony Atamanuik, Doug Benson, Matt Besser, Byron Bowers, Camilla Cleese, John Cleese, Jim Gaffigan, Vanessa Gonzalez, Punkie Johnson, Mitra Jouhari, Bruce McCulloch, Bonnie McFarlane, Sean Patton, Yamaneika Saunders, Dulcé Sloan, Nick Thune, Liza Treyger, Ricky Velez, Rich Vos, and more.

The SXSW Conference is organized into 15 programming tracks presented in a variety of session formats. New for 2022 is the addition of Summits, which take a deep dive into specific topics relevant to the SXSW audience. More information about SXSW programming Summits, formats and themes can be found here.”

Newly-announced Keynote Speakers include:

  • President of Beggars Group US, writer. and author of the upcoming memoir My Life in the Sunshine (Viking/Penguin on June 7, 2022) Nabil Ayers with journalist, moderator, radio host, emcee, television reporter and podcaster Andy Langer
  • Founder and CEO of MediaLink Michael E. Kassan and founder and co-CEO of Candle Media, Chairman of DAZN Group and co-founder and Managing Director of Smash Ventures Kevin Mayer with Variety co-editor-in-chief Cynthia Littleton
  • Journalist and author, the co-founder and CEO of Rappler, and the first Filipino recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, Maria Ressa
  • Grammy Award-nominated singer and guitarist of Japanese Breakfast and New York Times bestselling author of Crying in H Mart Michelle Zauner

Newly-announced Featured Speakers include:

  • Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University and author Ruha Benjamin, activist and sister of Breonna Taylor Ju’Niyah Palmer, founder and CEO of YESUNIVERSE Lady Pheønix, award-winning augmented reality designer, avant-garde movie producer, and multimedia artist Sutu and civil rights activist and partner of Breonna Taylor Kenneth Walker
  • 19th Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg
  • Benchmark General Partner Bill Gurley
  • Director and actress Gillian Jacobs (appearing virtually) with actor, comedian Joel McHale (appearing virtually) to discuss STEM and Jacob’s documentary, More than Robots
  • Former Congressman and candidate for Texas Governor Beto O’Rourke in conversation with The Texas Tribune CEO and co-founder Evan Smith
  • Facilitator, strategic advisor, acclaimed author of The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why it Matters, and executive producer and host of The New York Times podcast Together Apart, Priya Parker
  • Gravity Payments founder Dan Price
  • Lucid Chief Executive Officer and Chief Technology Officer Peter Rawlinson
  • Autodidactic singer, songwriter, director and composer Sevdaliza and Deputy CEO of Sensorium Sasha TityanAko

Newly-announced Featured Sessions include:

  • A Conversation with Labor Secretary Marty Walsh on the State of the American Workforce: Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh sits down with Politico’s Daniel Lippman to discuss worker empowerment, job growth, unionization, the “Great Resignation” and getting Americans back to work. Leading into the second year of President Biden’s term, Walsh will discuss how the administration is tackling the most pressing economic issues affecting America as the country emerges from the pandemic.
  • Art & Climate: A Conversation with Brian Eno & Beatie Wolfe: In this session, English musician, record producer, visual artist and theorist Brian Eno (appearing virtually) and “musical weirdo and visionary” Beatie Wolfe will discuss how art can play a vital role in response to the climate emergency, with Brian sharing his music industry charity EarthPercent and Beatie sharing ‘From Green to Red,’ an environmental protest piece built using 800,000 years of NASA data to visualize rising CO2 levels.
  • Birds Aren’t Real: How a Satirical Community Takes Flight: In this session, performance artist, filmmaker and founder of Birds Aren’t Real Peter McIndoe will answer questions such as how is decentralized community formed on the internet, what do people see in something like Birds Aren’t Real and what can be accomplished when these people come together?
  • The Bold Jump to Streaming News: With the rise of streaming, the opportunities to break news and share engaging stories are more plentiful than ever before. In this session moderated by The Hollywood Reporter writer J. Clara Chan, hear CNN+ host and podcast host Rex Chapman; CNN+ anchor, correspondent and podcast host Audie Cornish; CNN anchor and Chief National Affairs Analyst Kasie Hunt; cook, writer and author of the New York Times bestseller, NOTHING FANCY Alison Roman talk about why they decided to make the jump into streaming with CNN+, a new platform set to debut this spring.
  • Changing the Future of Food: All around the world, the hunger-solution NGO World Central Kitchen has sped to crisis locations to help with the most urgent of human needs: Feeding communities who suddenly find themselves with no access to food. In this session, join Imagine Documentaries co-president Sara Bernstein with Academy Award-winning filmmaker Ron Howard and World Central Kitchen CEO Nate Mook for a behind-the-scenes look at their upcoming film WE FEED PEOPLE (World Premiering at SXSW 2022), featuring the work of renowned chef and humanitarian José Andrés.
  • Citizen by CNN Presents: How America Works: A conversation with CNN anchor Poppy Harlow and U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. Resignations, unionization, hustle culture, essential workers and the gig economy – buzz words that pack a punch. COVID-19 fundamentally changed the American workforce. But moving forward, who and what works?
  • ​​Dreamers Never Die: The Enduring Power of Metal: 50 years since its inception, Heavy Metal’s founders and fans rabidly continue to live the lifestyle even as they themselves turn gray. In this session, musician and singer Sebastian Bach, longtime bassist for the groundbreaking heavy metal outfit Black Sabbath Geezer Butler, President and Owner of Niji Management, Inc. Wendy Dio and host of the rock talk show Trunk Nation on SiriusXM Volume Eddie Trunk answer questions such as why has this music connected so powerfully with people and what does it mean to live an entire life by the values found in the world’s most extreme genre of music?
  • Gamers: The New Icons of Pop Culture & Fashion: Over the last few years there’s been explosive growth in the video game industry and its influence in youth culture. Games are overtaking music as the most important impact on youth culture, and gamers are experiencing similar name recognition as major athletes and musicians. In this session, co-founder and Chief Gaming Officer at the Kansas City Pioneers LJ Browne, VP of Marketing at FaZe Clan Taav Cooperman, gaming content creator and producer TravelDanielle and co-founder and CEO of Gamers First Kenny Vaccaro discuss how innovative video content platforms like Twitch and TikTok allow gamers to grow their fan bases in a way that’s just as influential as celebrities.
  • How to Win in the Future of Gaming: Technology and gaming companies are coming together like never before, innovating to level up the action in new ways and keep you on the leaderboard. In this session, join Co-CEO ESL Gaming Craig Levine; Qualcomm Incorporated CMO Don McGuire; and producer, writer and host Kate Yeager as they discuss the metaverse, esports and the future of new and premium gaming experiences.
  • The Kids in the Hall: Comedy Punks: In this session, founding members of The Kids in the Hall Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney and Scott Thompson reflect on the group’s influential legacy and their experiences creating some of the most pivotal sketch comedy of all time. They will also discuss the new two-part Amazon Original documentary The Kids in the Hall: Comedy Punks (produced by Blue Ant Studios), which makes its world premiere at SXSW, and the upcoming Kids in the Hall reboot for Prime Video.
  • Making Virtual Storytelling and Activism Personal: Neuroscience shows that storytelling can affect brain chemistry, moving us to be more empathetic, generous— and eager to take action.  In this session, Executive Director at Avow Aimee Arrambide, award-winning stereographer, cameraman and XR filmmaker Tom C. Hall, caregiver, intersectional feminist activist, storyteller and subject of The Choice Kristen Herring, Texas House of Representatives member Donna Howard and co-founder of Infinite Frame Media, XR director and producer Joanne Popinska, Ph.D. discuss The Choice, a virtual reality experience that uses personal storytelling and volumetric VR filmmaking to offer a new perspective on reproductive rights, and how personal storytelling such as this can influence cultural and policy change.
  • A Movement So New It Hasn’t Been Named: In this session, Last Prisoner Project founder Steve DeAngelo and entrepreneur, producer, director and Badass Vegan author John Lewis will discuss things such as the interconnections between the rise of plant-based diets, plant-based medicine/consciousness, and plant-based industry, how cattle, petroleum and other extractive industries accelerate global warming and how the use of hemp based raw materials and consumption of plant based foods reduce it, how the rediscovery of plant based consciousness has opened minds and set the table for plant based diets and more. All while answering the question, do these interconnections point the way to a better future for humankind?
  • Music & The Movement with Nathaniel Rateliff: Music has been a crucial component of social movements throughout history. A thoughtful partnership of musicians, organizers and activists can build a coalition that persuades audiences to action. In this session, cultural organizer and the executive director of The Marigold Project Kari Nott, musician and founder of The Marigold Project Nathaniel Rateliff and co-executive director of Highlander Research & Education Center Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson will discuss the careful considerations and thoughtful relationships that must be in place in order to build long-lasting, impactful justice movements.
  • One Year Later: How NFTs Are Changing The World: In this session, CEO of Blockparty Vladislav Ginzburg, VP of Strategic Partnerships at Dapper Labs Ridhima Ahuja Kahn, co-founder and CEO of nft now Matt Medved and founder and Partner of Raised In Space Shara Senderoff will reunite one year after their SXSW 2021 panel to talk about bridging the gap between digital and physical NFTs, the rise of ‘NFT-commerce’ and how the rise of NFTs has forever changed our world.
  • The Power of Finding Your Sound: How do brands stay top of mind without visual real estate? Chief Marketing & Communications Officer for Mastercard and President of the company’s healthcare business Raja Rajamannar has the answer: Engage consumers through the power of music. In this session, be one of the first to feel the beat of Mastercard’s new album and be ready to experience a priceless musical surprise with a special guest, as Raja reveals the brand’s next journey into sound.
  • Pulling Off Everything Everywhere All At Once: In this session, film producer Allison Rose Carter, the filmmaking duo collectively known as “Daniels” Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, film producer Jon Read and film producer Jonathan Wang discuss just how absurdly challenging the comically ambitious screenplay for Everything Everywhere All at Once was to produce and the badasses behind the scenes who saved the day, kept it fun and pulled off the impossible.
  • Ride into the Metaverse: How Cars Expand Storytelling & Entertainment: Storytelling takes you on a journey, the same way cars do. Through the emergence of the Metaverse, its ramp up and the phenomenal pace of technological advancements in web3 (and blockchain), we’re experiencing new media and experience formats that will change the face of entertainment. In this session, Partner at Lewis Silkin LLP Cliff Fluet, director, producer and screenwriter Joe Russo (appearing virtually) and CEO of holoride Nils Wollny will take you on a ride through the Metaverse as they discuss how storytelling will turn into storyliving through the power of motion and location aware content.
  • Sound of Change: Patria y Vida and Cuba’s uprising: For over six decades, the slogan of the Cuban revolution, penned by Fidel Castro, was “Patria o Muerte” – Homeland or Death. But in the past year, the motto was turned on its head with protesters clamoring for “Patria y Vida,” the title of the subversive song performed by Black Cuban artists that reside in and out of the island. In this session, Billboard VP Latin Industry Lead Leila Cobo with world-renowned and influential artist Beatriz Luengo and Latin Grammy-winning singer and producer Yotuel Romero speak of “Patria y Vida’s” journey from indie release to agent of change that fueled the biggest anti government protests in Cuba’s history.
  • ​​It Starts on TikTok: Discovering Your Audience: This session will discuss how TikTok creates space in the creator economy for artists to own their narratives, with singer-songwriter Sadie Jean chatting with US Head of Music and Content at TikTok Corey Sheridan about their success on the community-driven video platform and its impact on her artistry.
  • Talent in Web3: Charting a course to mass adoption: With deep, emotional connections between content creators and fans, community is the bedrock of entertainment. As the digital arena continues to evolve and further empower artists to build and grow their brands (and followings) locally and globally, President of Blockchain Creative Labs and Chief Information Security Officer of FOX Corporation Melody Hildebrandt, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Producer of FOX Sports Eric Shanks and Head of Digital Assets at UTA Lesley Silverman will come together to discuss how Web3 will bring artists even closer to fans in new and meaningful ways.
  • Ted Lasso Strikes Back: Season 2 of Ted Lasso hits a little different – it’s the Empire Strikes Back nod that, as Jason Sudeikis shared with Jimmy Fallon, “starts in the cold and ends in a little chillier place than where we started. Everybody’s gotta go in their cave and meet a little green man.” In this session, you’ll hear from Ted Lasso stars Brett Goldstein (appearing virtually) and Brendan Hunt (appearing virtually), COO of DigitalFilm Tree Nancy Jundi, Supervising Producer of Ted Lasso Kip Kroeger and Editor of Ted Lasso Melissa Brown McCoy as they unwind some of the ethos, intention and deep connection with fans.
  • Welcome to the NFT Renaissance: Why It Matters For Creators: NFT’s are the beginning of how blockchain will reshape and rebalance the creator economy; bringing about an unprecedented age of opportunity for creators to monetize their art and build passionate, global, fan bases. In this session, join Solana co-founder Raj Gokal as he delves into a discussion about this new age of ownership for creators and how Solana is powering the future of NFT’s. 

Podcast Stage (presented by Shure with supporting sponsor Backtracks) Lineup:
Open to all badgeholders, the SXSW Podcast Stage presented by Shure with supporting sponsor Backtracks hosts podcasts as diverse and varied as the live audience in attendance.

  • The Daily Show Presents: Being a Black Journalist in America: Join Daily Show correspondent Roy Wood Jr. and guests for a live recording of The Daily Show’s Beyond The Scenes podcast. Roy will sit down with veteran Black reporters to discuss the underrepresentation of Black journalists in America’s newsrooms, how this lack of representation shapes the media’s narrative on race, and the winding, eye-opening journeys taken by the panelists.
  • The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz: Chidi Ahanotu? That’s how we’re fixing everything?” Those were the show’s first words nearly 20 years ago, and The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz has been sharing a uniquely Miami perspective on all things sports, pop culture and more ever since. Now, with their newfound “freedumb” from ESPN at Meadowlark Media, Dan, Stugotz and the rest of the family’s cast of characters continue to push the boundaries of sports coverage with their combination of serious commentary cloaked in unending laughter. Dan Le Batard will travel to SXSW for the first time this year, where he’ll offer his authentic perspective on a wide range of topics. As the Le Batard and Friends Network continues to expand, you’ll find a number of spin-off podcasts with new and diverse voices. 
  • Deadline – Scene 2 Seen PodcastDeadline Hollywood’s Associate Editor Valerie Complex will talk to the women behind the devastating documentary Aftershock. Directed by Paula Eiselt and Tonya Lewis LeeAftershock chronicles the rise in maternal deaths of Black women. 
  • Foundering: The Amazon Story LIVE!: Foundering is a serialized podcast from the journalists at Bloomberg Technology. The new season paints an unvarnished picture of Amazon’s unprecedented growth and its billionaire founder, Jeff Bezos, revealing the most important business story of our time. Host Brad Stone and executive producer Shawn Wen present a deeply-reported, sound-rich story of how a retail upstart became one of the most powerful and feared entities in the global economy. Stone also probes the evolution of Bezos himself—who started as a geeky technologist totally devoted to building Amazon, but who transformed to become a fit, disciplined billionaire with global ambitions; who ruled Amazon with an iron fist, even as he found his personal life splashed over the tabloids.
  • Gen Z on the Power of Authentic Voices: With a rise in novel perspectives and values in policy, tech and impact, society is beginning to take on a new definition of innovation. By using these perspectives, we constantly develop frameworks to serve diverse groups and bring out authentic voices. But how can we leverage our ever-evolving culture to continue driving innovation forwards? Attend this live episode with the co-hosts of The Boss Ladies Podcast to understand how we can integrate the values of DEI and human-centric impact to spur the next generation of equitable change and dynamic innovation.
  • The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter Live with Scott Feinberg: An exclusive recording of THR’s Award Chatter Live with senior awards analyst Scott Feinberg who will sit down with the award winning and Texas native filmmaker, Richard Linklater.
  • ICYMI Live Show: Join Rachelle Hampton and Madison Malone Kircher twice a week as they gaze deep into the online abyss—and tell you what’s gazing back.
  • Limitless: Upgrade Your Brain & Learn Faster: Every day — we’re sprinting to catch up. New technology. New people. New ideas, fast changes, endless updates… In our business, industry and even our daily personal life. Join brain performance expert and The New York Times best-selling author Jim Kwik to upgrade the most important technology and greatest creative wealth building asset you have – your mind. Kwik will share research, practical advice and proven tools from his recent book, Limitless: Upgrade Your Brain, Learn Anything Faster, and Unlock Your Exceptional Life. During this talk, learn how to fuel your productivity, tap into boundless motivation, eliminate mental fog, sharpen your focus and even boost your memory to better remember all the ideas and individuals you meet at SXSW. This is a session you will never forget!
  • A Little Bit Culty Podcast Live: Is this the golden era of cult shows? As cult whistleblowers turned podcasters documented in the critically-acclaimed HBO series “The Vow,” Sarah and Nippy have a lot to say about their experience, and burning questions to ask other survivors, experts and advocates. This panel will be a live podcast recording of A Little Bit Culty that explores the relationship between storytelling, survivorship and the expanding content cultiverse. Joined by Amanda Montell (linguist and ‘Cultish’ author) and Sarah Berman (VICE investigative journalist and ‘Don’t Call it a Cult’ author), Sarah and Nippy will cover the ways and means of extreme beliefs, cultic abuse and unpack how prime time cult storytelling can impact both real-life survivors and big-time scoundrels.
  • Make It Up As We Go Season 2: This session will include conversations with the cast of the upcoming and critically acclaimed Audio Up scripted-musical podcast, Make It Up As We Go season 2. Series star and co-creator Scarlett Burke will be joined by Audio Up founder & CEO Jared Gutstadt and Grammy Award Winning songwriter Liz Rose, who has written original music for the new podcast series. Each conversation will lead into song performances from Burke, Gutstadt and Rose, all of which will be original music from the podcast.
  • Offline with Jon Favreau: Step away from the Twitter-fueled news cycle with Crooked Media’s Offline with Jon Favreau. In his newest show, the Pod Save America co-host offers a chance to hear smarter, lighter conversations about all the ways that our extremely online existence is shaping our politics, culture and the ways we live, work and interact with one another.
  • The Passion Economy: In this session, three humble, hilarious and honest individuals get real on money and how to find the nexus of profitability and passion. Join Jason Blumer, a brilliant accountant who teaches creative entrepreneurs how to organize businesses to scale, co-founder of NPR’s Planet Money and New Yorker economist and author of The Passion Economy, published by Knopf Adam Davidson and Meghan Phillips, a design and marketing studio owner who guides clients on how to convey their passion behind their products and services to audiences as they hit the podcast stage to discuss the rigor needed to pursue your passion in the value economy and the importance of masterful storytelling. 
  • Ride the Omnibus: Crafting a Culture of Accessibility: Ride the Omnibus is a podcast parked at the intersection of pop culture and social justice, and regularly features and reports on marginalized voices in film and entertainment. The IATSE strike reverberated throughout the film industry, and was a response to working conditions that are not sustainable or accessible. If we want authentic stories from underrepresented voices, we need to change our practice on a structural level to allow previously excluded workers into the process at every level. In this panel/podcast, we will discuss how we can create balance in the production process that allows a fairer division of labor, increased productivity, access to all and above all, better storytelling.
  • Wellness In Gaming: How Creators Adapt & Inspire Over the years, the gaming world has grown exponentially, with the mainstream finally catching on. Faze Clan members have been on the cover of Sports Illustrated, Ninja has been in Hollywood movies. But all of that success is due to their insane drive or “grind” online, usually at the expense of their health. In order to fight burnout, many have started to take their health more seriously, going through amazing physical transformations and bringing their audiences along. As well as connecting with top-tier athletes who have also enjoy the occasional video game. 
  • X-Ray Vision with Jason Concepcion: From the minds of Emmy-award winner Jason Concepcion and Crooked Media comes X-Ray Vision. Join Concepcion and Eisner-winning journalist/co-host Rosie Knight as they take a journey through the zeitgeist-iest (patent pending) of film, TV and comics, with fandom knowledge and one-of-a-kind analysis.
By Jordan French Jordan French has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Journalist verified by Muck Rack verified

Jordan French is the Founder and Executive Editor of Grit Daily. The champion of live journalism, Grit Daily's team hails from ABC, CBS, CNN, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Forbes, Fox, PopSugar, SF Chronicle, VentureBeat, Verge, Vice, and Vox. An award-winning journalist, he is on the editorial staff at TheStreet.com and a Fast 50 and Inc. 500-ranked entrepreneur with one sale. Formerly an engineer and intellectual-property attorney, his third company, BeeHex, rose to fame for its "3D printed pizza for astronauts" and is now a military contractor. A prolific investor, he's invested in 40+ early stage startups through 2021.

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