Hollywood salutes four Caribbean-Americans

Salute to Hollywood & Excellence gala Caribbean-Americans
(L-R): Mark Walker, Francesca Harewood, and Carmen J. Smith

Honorees announced for the Caribbean Heritage 2016 Salute to Hollywood and Excellence

Celebrating June as Caribbean-American Heritage Month, four Caribbean Americans will be honored for their accomplishments in business and media at the 2016 Salute to Hollywood & Excellence gala, st for June 17 at the Hilton Universal City in Los Angeles. Selected by the Caribbean Heritage Organization (CHO) and the Institute of Caribbean Studies, DC (ICS-DC), the 2016 honorees are be celebrated for their pioneering professional accomplishments and their dedication to the progress of the Diaspora.

“Each year for the Caribbean Heritage Salute to Hollywood and Excellence, the selection committee combs through rumors and minutiae to identify those among the Caribbean family, in what some term America’s most powerful industry, outside of politics – entertainment, business, and media.   This year they got it right yet again,” says Dr. Claire Nelson, the architect of Caribbean-American Heritage Month and founder of the Institute of Caribbean Studies.

“The 2016 honorees are exemplars of the power of America’s immigrant journey and truly represent our pride in our contributions to American culture and society” added Marva Griffiths Herman, Founder & Executive Director for Caribbean Heritage Organization.

The honorees are Mark L. Walker, SVP and General Manager for the Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media Group,  Carmen J. Smith, VP of Creative Development for Walt Disney Imagineering, Francesca Harewood, VP of Business Affairs for NBCUniversal and budding filmmaker, Dana Verde.

As Vice President of Creative Development for Walt Disney Imagineering, Carmen J. Smith is responsible for developing a diverse pipeline of product and people to enhance Imagineering’s consultant talent and its creative processes. Carmen’s Caribbean roots are in Trinidad & Tobago, with links to Curaçao. Finding new ways to reach and delight a new generation of fans and families is at the top of Jamaican-American Mark Walker’s to-do list as senior vice president and general manager, Disney Interactive Media.

Francesca Harewood is Vice President, Business Affairs for NBCUniversal, where she negotiates agreements for NBC prime-time scripted series and specials. She is also the business affairs executive for NBC annual specials, including “New Year’s Eve”, “Red Nose Day”, “Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks” and “Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade”; and musical specials for artists such as Adele, Miley Cyrus and One Direction. Francesca was born in Brooklyn, NY, but grew up in Dover, Christ Church, Barbados.

Dana Elizabeth Verde started her entertainment career while she was an undergraduate at the New School University (NSU) pursuing her degree in Media Studies/Screenwriting.  Entering the Sundance Screenwriters Lab, her first full length feature script “The Only Black Girl” made the final round in the competition.  She completed her degree at NSU and became a script reader for Maisha Film Lab (founded by filmmaker Mira Nair) and co-hosted a TV show on MTV called “Your Movie Show” as a film reviewer.  Dana wrote the screenplay for the 2016 hit, “The Perfect Match” staring Paula Patton, Terrence Jenkins and Cassie Ventura.  The film was produced by Queen Latifah’s production company Flavor Unit and is now in theaters.  Dana’s Caribbean roots are in Cuba and Jamaica.

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