The Lavin Agency Speakers Bureau

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writers, and doers for speaking engagements.

Author Gabby Rivera Explores Art, Diversity, and Joy in NPR Interview

In this portrait for NPR’s Latino USA, acclaimed author, activist, and artist Gabby Rivera explores the importance of representation in the arts, dealing with hate, and her remarkable work and career.

“I must remember, it's not mainstream culture that I'm a part of. I'm part of these little pockets of good people everywhere, doing their best to just love themselves, and each other.”

— Gabby Rivera

Rivera’s first novel, Juliet Takes a Breath, is an unconventional coming-of-age—and coming out—story, based on her personal experience. Called the “dopest LGBTQA YA book ever” by Latina magazine, the novel captured not only critical acclaim and international attention, but also the imagination of Marvel Comics. By 2017, Rivera was writing America, Marvel’s first comic series with a queer Latina superhero—but underrepresentation of marginalized groups was still the industry norm. And as America exploded onto the scene, Rivera found herself targeted in a campaign of mass online harassment of those involved with the comic book industry's efforts to include more creators and characters of diverse backgrounds. With great success can come great backlash, and for a time Rivera thought she wouldn’t be able to keep creating comics. Fortunately, love and strength will always conquer hate and fear, and Rivera rose above the attacks—thanks in part to the comics community itself.


“What really saved me, and what really turned all of this into big love, was when I went to individual comic book shops and did signings,” she says to NPR’s Maria Hinojosa. “It was there, and in colleges also across the country, where I met really good, good human beings, who loved America Chavez, who loved that there were women and queer people and brown people in the comics. And yes, a lot of them look like me, and you know what? A lot of them look like a regular-ass white dude at the mall, coming up to me and being like, ‘I loved America, it was so nice, it was so refreshing.’”


And now, Rivera has her first original comic series, b.b. free, which debuted this month. “What's fun about b.b. free, is that it actually comes from a short story that I wrote,” she told NPR. “I wrote about…[a] plague of imbalance put out into the world by Mother Nature that eats greed, and ends up kind of killing everyone who is essentially greedy. It starts with the one percent and then kind of trickles its way down. So, what is that world? And so we plop a beautiful, chubby little fifteen-year-old Puerto-Rican girl from the Florida Swamps [there]. And she's b.b. free, and she wants to go on an adventure, she wants to go on a road trip.”


NPR’s interfiew closes with a discussion of Rivera’s upcoming podcast, Gabby Rivera's Joy Revolution. Hitting airwaves in 2020, it will feature interviews with revolutionary QTPOC humans and allies, and explore how they find, maintain, and nurture their joy in this chaotic world. So what brings Rivera joy?, Hinojosa asks. “Number one, this is a joy that is rooted in acknowledging pain and suffering and the reality of the world around us. I don't take it for granted that ten years ago, I didn't think I was gonna live. I was having panic attacks, I had no money, I had no future…So here now, ten years later, that I am a thriving, supported artist and writer making my way in the world, that is my joy. And I love myself. And I love myself enough to be like, I don’t need to give people who don’t love me, my energy. It’s all good. I’d rather be here talking to you, you know?”  


You can listen to NPR’s Portrait Of: Gabby Rivera here.


To book speaker Gabby Rivera, contact her exclusive speakers bureau, The Lavin Agency. 

On the Come Up, Lavin Speaker Angie Thomas’ New Book, Is out Today—and Already Being Adapted for Film

With her debut novel The Hate U Give still topping The New York Times bestseller list, Angie Thomas’ second novel On the Come Up—released today—is in good company. And despite only being out for less than 24 hours, it’s already being adapted into a feature film. 

On the Come Up—set to be directed by George Tillman Jr., who also directed the film version of The Hate U Give—is about an aspiring teen rapper whose first song goes viral for all the wrong reasons. In its glowing review, the Times calls the book an “exquisitely intimate novel,” and says that Thomas is a writer that we’re lucky to have. The Guardian says it’s “joyous and very funny,” and “shows talent and ambition challenging stereotypes.”


“Few first novelists have the kind of success Angie Thomas saw with The Hate U Give,” says the Times in a recent profile. The Hate U Give has spent 100 weeks on the Times bestseller list and been made into an equally acclaimed movie.


On the Come Up is out today from Harper Collins. 


To book Angie Thomas or another literary speaker, contact  href=”https:>The Lavin Agency today. 

Black History Month: The Struggles of Our Past Teach Us About Our Present

February is Black History Month—a time in which we celebrate the important contributions and achievements of African Americans throughout history. Lavin speakers Titus Kaphar, Heather McGhee and Margot Lee Shetterly engage with this crucial history through a variety of lenses: art, policy, STEM. But most importantly they draw wisdom from it, in order to forge a better future.   

“Art is a language. There is always a coded narrative.”

Titus Kaphar’s sculptures, paintings and installations bring pathos and immediacy to issues almost too massive and abstract to fathom: de-industrialization, generational poverty, mass incarceration, civic agency. In stirring keynotes, he uses his work to deconstruct what we think about history, art, race and more. He received a MacArthur “Genius” Grant this year for forging truly significant process towards building a more just and peaceful world.   


Can art amend history? | Titus Kaphar



“It's time to define anew what it means to be an American.”

In the wake of two wrongful, racially motivated arrests in one of their stores, Starbucks entrusted Heather McGhee and her team at Demos to create and implement a groundbreaking racial bias training strategy. Drawing from her policy expertise, original research and moving personal experience, McGhee motivates audiences to create a more dynamic and inclusive definition of what it means to be an American citizen.


2018 Constitutional Convention - Demos President Heather McGhee



“Diverse voices are key to the future of innovation.”

Margot Lee Shetterly wrote Hidden Figures—the bestselling book and Academy Award-nominated movie about the black female mathematicians who helped win the space race. She's a writer, researcher and entrepreneur who, in talks (like the one below), takes audiences through the gripping and unbelievable true story of NASA’s hidden figures, using it to prove the need for a greater diversity of voices in STEM. 


Hidden Figures: The Female Mathematicians of NACA and NASA


To book Titus Kaphar, Heather McGhee or Margot Lee Shetterly, contact The Lavin Agency. href=”https:>

“Fierce.” “Impassioned.” “Oscar-Worthy.” The Hate U Give Movie—Based on Angie Thomas’s #1 Bestseller—Opens Today.

Not content to spend 85 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list (where it’s currently enjoying a return to the #1 spot), Lavin speaker Angie Thomas’ phenomenon of a first novel is currently sweeping the nation as a feature film, collecting popular and critical praise—and even being touted as an “Oscar-worthy masterpiece” (Forbes). We’ve collected a bit of the buzz surrounding The Hate U Give as it heads into what’s sure to be a big opening weekend:

“This impassioned and incisive adaptation of the novel by Angie Thomas keeps a complex story and a wide array of characters in energetic, compassionate balance.” (The New Yorker


Forbes calls The Hate U Give “one of the best movies of the year … the kind of high-quality and well-made movie about a pressing social issue, that should be Hollywood’s bread-and-butter” and “one of the very best movies of the year” that “deserves to be an Oscar front-runner.”   


“Angie Thomas’s source novel has been a publishing phenomenon. The movie, directed by George Tillman Jr., could well follow suit, with its built-in following and a rising swell of critical acclaim,” says The Guardian, calling it “fierce [and] dynamic.” 


“It’s so gripping to watch—as well as being, in places, just delightfully funny—that you never feel you’re being preached to. It picks you up in one place and sets you down in another.” (TIME Magazine)


The Hate U Give | Official Trailer [HD] | 20th Century FOX


Award-winning and bestselling author Angie Thomas speaks on the topics of Diversity and Race. To book her to speak at your next event, contact The Lavin Agency today, her exclusive speakers bureau.  

Nikole Hannah-Jones is “One of the country’s most distinctive and respected voices” says Columbia Journalism School Dean Steve Coll

Columbia Journalism School has awarded Nikole Hannah-Jones, investigative reporter and author of the upcoming book The Problem We All Live With, the 2018 John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism. Hannah-Jones’ groundbreaking reporting on modern segregation in American schools has already earned her a collection of prestigious awards, including the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship. 

The John Chancellor Award is presented each year to a journalist who best embodies the legacy of pioneering television correspondent and longtime NBC News anchor John Chancellor, remembered for his distinguished reporting on civil rights, politics and election campaigns. “Her reporting on segregation in housing and education has performed a critical public service. She embodies the best of our profession and the spirit of the John Chancellor Award,” continued Columbia Journalism School Dean Steve Coll. 

Watch Nikole Hannah-Jones explain the complexities of modern day segregation below:

Nikole Hannah-Jones:


To book Nikole Hannah-Jones for your next speaking engagement, contact The Lavin Agency. href=”https:>

“One of the Strongest Artists to Emerge in This Country, This Century.” New York Magazine Lead Art Critic on LaToya Ruby Frazier

LaToya Ruby Frazier—photographer, MacArthur “Genius” and one of Lavin’s most compelling speakers on the entanglement of race, labor, family, and the environment—was described by influential New York Magazine art critic Jerry Saltz as a, “36-year old oracle … one of the strongest artists to emerge in this country this century.” (Vulture).  

What do LaToya Ruby Frazier’s photos really document? “Everything,” says Saltz in his Vulture profile, “the entire postwar American Dream stacked against American blacks.” Hers is not a voyeuristic or predatory eye, observes Saltz; instead, Frazier gives a voice to her subjects, many of whom have written their own text, poetry or statistics, presented alongside their pictures. 


This radical leap—from subject to collaborator—is not only what makes Frazier one of the most important artists working today, but is also what gives her captivating keynotes such heart: “For me, it’s a duty to stand in the gap and advocate as an artist for the displaced, working-class people … I made my camera a weapon.”


LaToya Ruby Frazier: A visual history of inequality in industrial America


The Lavin Agency’s speakers on race and diversity are artists, professors, journalists, educators, and more. To learn about these keynote speakers, contact us today.