Storyhouse Inaugural Event With Alicia Keys, Swizz Beatz, Donald Glover

Storyhouse, non-profit, bringing together artists and visionaries working to fundamentally shift healing and representation across creative mediums, launched with its private inaugural symposium on Oct. 9, 2021. Guests were shuttled to a private architecturally and culturally significant estate in Pasadena, which was transformed into an immersive, contemplative, and powerful series of experiences tapping into the senses that define a new structure of feeling so that creatives can better see themselves in the world.
The inauguration (sponsored by The Agency, Harvey Mudd College, Qatar America Institute for Culture, and Tides Foundation) commenced in the morning with an immersive sonic and dance therapy session led by Saudi-Palestinian artist and singer Rotana, followed by a laughing meditation with award-winning music artist, actor, director Donald Glover. The afternoon led into an intimate fire-side conversation with Storyhouse founder Sylvia Zakhary and executives from the Academy of Motion Picture and Sciences: Shawn Finnie, Jeanell English, and Meryl Johnson.
Closing remarks were made by the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, H.E. Ms. Amina J. Mohammed. H.E. Ms. Amina J. Mohammed. Ms. Mohammed leads the Spotlight Initiative, whose Culture Change Commitment seeks to engage creators and artists to promote gender equality across the globe. “Representation is critical. Every community must have a role in shaping the values and narratives that drive action,” expressed the DSG. “This sense of shared destiny is essential to solving global problems, and that is why your role is so important. Through creative collaboration and expression, the Storyhouse community can create space for new voices, shift mindsets, and turn awareness into action.”
Throughout the day, guests also had the opportunity to explore the house which included viewing an international selection of films in the Storyhouse theatre, meditating in the live sound garden inside the conservatory or sitting in an anonymous private confessional at the lawn.
Inspired by the foundation’s four pillars (Search for Home, Memories, Power, and The Numinous), the curated world made guests feel seen – a home filled with conversation and connection to others and themselves – with the opportunity to explore and interact with thought leaders, visionaries, and creatives within the privacy and safety of the space. House rules included “no photos or posting to social media” with the intention of keeping guests present and in the moment.
Storyhouse is the brainchild of award-winning producer, CEO, and entrepreneur, Sylvia Zakhary. “At the very core of Storyhouse, we are celebrating and examining our roles as creatives (of color) in the world. This global community shapes art, culture and ultimately everything we see on screen, connecting us to our history and ourselves. Yet, to this day, we still do not see our truest selves on screen and beyond. We are burdened by the biases and stereotypes of the material and digital worlds that influence the way we tell our stories and, further, the way we live our lives. Storyhouse is the necessary space & platform where these biases simply do not exist; a space that looks inward; feels, sounds and breathes like us. Everything is intentional at Storyhouse. Everything is awakening the idea of unlearning & celebrating a return to oneself.”
Amongst the many celebrated guests were the Foundation’s Godparents & music power couple, Alicia Keys and Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean. “Storyhouse is the home that we all need as creatives and true dreamers. Finally, a united global front for creatives to express greatness. I’m honored to be a small piece to a big master plan,” says Swizz Beatz. Of her involvement, Alicia Keys said, “I am so grateful to be part of such an incredibly powerful and important organization that brings artists together to celebrate who they are and what makes them unique. Every creator featured on the platform has such an important story to share, and Storyhouse is giving these visionaries a special way to connect with each other and the platform they deserve to share those stories.”
The non-profit aims to tackle the lack of diversity and inclusion in third spaces by centering and celebrating the needs of creatives of color. Every Storyhouse program varies in shape and form, with distinct international perspectives accentuating views on historically excluded cultures within entertainment and academia.
In addition to their permanent location in Los Angeles, Storyhouse is expressed as a series of private events with intentionally designed gathering spaces held at remote, discreet locations across the world. Upcoming Storyhouse Programs will be announced to private members in January 2022.
Source: Storyhouse Foundation