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“Producing to Power” (P2P) refers to filmmakers, media, and platform executives; producers and showrunners; and digital and social media creators telling their authentic stories from the margins to advocate for social issues. Perhaps there is no greater example of P2P than Ellis Haizlip, the legendary producer and host of the PBS series SOUL! From 1968 to 1973, at the height of the civil rights movement, Haizlip’s groundbreaking program featured and elevated the concerns and cultures of the Black community. 

Dedicated to the work and legacy of Haizlip, this event will present an uplifting conversation featuring Melissa Haizlip, the award-winning producer of Mr. SOUL!, and other special guests, moderated by USC Annenberg professor and award-winning journalist Miki Turner. SOUL 2023 will offer inspiration, insight, and a roadmap for today’s storytellers, communication and media professionals, and other promoters of culture who are committed to amplifying voices and creating change through media. 


Melissa Haizlip: Emmy-nominated, Peabody Award-winning producer, director, and writer of Mr. Soul! and co-executive producer of an upcoming original docuseries on women in hip-hop for Netflix.

Mara Brock Akil: Award-winning storyteller, producer, and entrepreneur whose credits include South Central, Moesha, The Jamie Foxx Show, Girlfriends, The Game, and Black Lightning 

Tendo Nagenda: Producer of A Wrinkle in Time, Mulan, and 50/50, and developer of Da 5 Bloods, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Hillbilly Elegy, The Harder They Fall, and Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery 

Stephanie Tarvares-Rance: Co-founder of the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival and president of the Crescendo public relations and event planning company  

Miki Turner (moderator): Award-winning photojournalist, producer, author, curator, and professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism 

USC students have free access to HBO Max, where they can stream Mr. SOUL! To log in:
- Go to
- Scroll down to “Univ of Southern California” and sign in using Duo

Presented by USC Visions and Voices. Organized by David Craig (Communications). Co-Sponsored by the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and IDEA (Institute for Diversity and Empowerment at Annenberg).

Event Details

  • Nia Lwanga
  • Laila Smith
  • Zachary McNulty

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