The Lavin Agency Speakers Bureau

A speakers bureau that represents the best original thinkers,
writers, and doers for speaking engagements.

‘This Is Us’ Producer to Adapt Angie Thomas’ YA Novel On the Come Up For Paramount

Angie Thomas became a household name with the release of her debut novel The Hate U Give, an instant YA classic that soon became a major motion picture. Her follow-up novel On the Come Up is once again getting the Hollywood treatment, in a project with some of the industry’s top talent attached.  

Kay Oyegun serves as a writer and producer on NBC drama This Is Us. In addition to working on the fan favorite show, Oyegun will also write the screenplay for the film adaptation of On the Come Up, the latest YA novel by New York Times bestselling author Angie Thomas (best known for The Hate U Give). George Tillman Jr. is slated to direct the project, and Thomas herself will produce, alongside several others.


The novel, which is set in the same universe as its predecessor, tells the story of Bri: a young rapper and the daughter of a late, underground hip hop legend. Mourning her father’s untimely death, and determined to financially support her family, Bri pours everything she has into her music—ultimately becoming a viral sensation. Insightful and unflinching, On the Come Up explores deep, complex, and meaningful issues such as the intersection of class and race, the implicit misogyny of the music industry, and the modern challenge of being a teenager in the social media age.


Read more about the upcoming project here.


To book speaker Angie Thomas for your next speaking engagement, contact The Lavin Agency today, her exclusive speakers bureau.

Rick Mercer Hosts the Upcoming Just For Laughs Comedy Tour Across the Nation

The last time Rick Mercer hosted the iconic comedy showcase was a whopping 16 years ago. On October 23rd, he will pick the mic up once again, kicking off a cross-country tour starting in NewFoundland and ending in British Columbia. 

Last year, Rick Mercer said goodbye to his beloved CBC program The Rick Mercer Report after 15 seasons on the air— but the political satirist won’t be laying low for long. Mercer will soon host the 18th edition of the Just For Laughs Comedy tour, which is scheduled to play across 17 cities, at the end of the month. In addition to Mercer, the show will also include comedians Ivan Decker, Debra DiGiovanni, and Ali Hassan.


To book speaker Rick Mercer for your next speaking event, contact The Lavin Agency and speak with a representative.

Chasing Excellence: Great Big Sea Frontman Alan Doyle Joins The Lavin Agency

What does it take to be a peak performer at the top of your game? That’s something that legendary musician, actor, and author Alan Doyle knows all too well. In talks, he reflects upon his illustrious career in the entertainment industry to show us the secret to excellence.

Alan Doyle has sold millions of albums, both as a solo artist and as the lead singer of iconic Canadian band Great Big Sea. A natural-born storyteller, Doyle writes more than music. He is also the author of two memoirs, Where I Belong and A Newfoundlander in Canada, both which chronicle his path from curious small-town boy to bold adventurer and performer. His talks are an extension of his creative personality and artistry, where he reveals that his enormous success is due in part to his extreme belief in the power of preparation. It is the key to being able to adapt, improvise, and roll with the challenges that arise from pursuing your dreams.


Be Prepared to Overdeliver | Alan Doyle


To book speaker Alan Doyle for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency, his exclusive speakers bureau.

Pulitzer-Winning David Rhode and Acclaimed Illustrator Molly Crabapple Selected for Prestigious National Fellowship

New America’s National Fellows Class of 2020 includes 15 talented individuals—a combination of writers, educators, filmmakers, artists, doctors, and editors—who will be funded to pursue personal projects. Among them are Lavin speakers David Rohde and Molly Crabapple.  

“Every year, we receive hundreds of applications, all worthy of a fellowship, but those projects that stand out are ones that challenge us to think deeply and thoughtfully about pressing social issues,” Fellows Program Director Awista Ayub said, speaking of this year’s National Fellows Class.


David Rohde is the Executive Editor for the news of NewYorker.com, and a global affairs analyst for CNN. He has received the Pulitzer Prize twice in his career, each time for International Reporting. As a fellow, he will be working on his book In Deep: The FBI, the CIA and the Truth about America’s Deep State.


In addition to her acclaimed reporting for outlets like The New York Times, Paris Review, and Vanity Fair, Molly Crabapple—an Eric & Wendy Schmidt Fellow—is an artist and author of two books. Brothers of the Gun, written by Marwan Hisham and illustrated by Crabapple, was longlisted for the National Book Award for Non-Fiction. As a fellow, she is writing a book on the forgotten history of the Jewish Labor Bund.


Interested in booking a Visual Arts or Literature speaker for your next event? Contact The Lavin Agency today for more information.

Nikole-Hannah Jones Explores the Legacy of Slavery in a New Project with the New York Times

August 20th, 1619 is an important date, but few know its historical significance: on this day, a ship carrying more than 20 enslaved Africans arrived in Jamestown. Though America did not yet exist, this day marked “the beginning of the system of slavery on which the country was built.” Lavin speaker Nikole-Hannah Jones is spearheading a new project at The New York Times to observe the 400th anniversary.  

The 1619 Project was originally pitched to the magazine by staff writer Nikole-Hannah Jones as an issue to commemorate the tragic anniversary of slavery. What evolved was an unprecedented project, including an entire issue of the magazine, a section of the kids section, and a full digital package, all dedicated to examining “a date as important to this country as the year 1776.”


The project, which will examine the legacy of slavery and how it continues to impact modern-day America, will feature works by artists such as Wesley Morris, Jammele Bouie, and Tyehimba Jess. A live event will take place at The Times Center on August 13th to celebrate the launch.


“Just as nothing about this country has been left untouched by this country's decision to purchase that first group of 20 human beings, we hope this project will reframe the way we view our nation, the black people who built in the society we live in, and where we go from here,” said Hannah-Jones.


To book speaker Nikole Hannah-Jones for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency today, her exclusive speakers bureau.


New Speaker Wanuri Kahiu is the Acclaimed Filmmaker Shattering Conventional Representations of African Culture Onscreen

“When I present my work somewhere, someone will always ask, ‘How does it deal with real African issues like war, poverty, devastation, AIDS?’ Well, it doesn’t,” says Wanuri Kahiu, whose work, dubbed “AfroBubbleGum” presents a fierce, frivolous, fun Africa. And this is a political act. “Agenda art is important, but it cannot be the only art that comes out of the continent.” 

She explains the dangers of a single narrative, especially Africa’s narrative. “Imagine we have images of Africans who are vibrant and loving and thriving and living a beautiful vibrant life. What would we think of ourselves then? Would we think we’re worthy of more happiness? Think of our shared humanity through our shared joy?”


Watch her warm and refreshing TED talk below:


Fun, fierce and fantastical African art | Wanuri Kahiu


To book Wanuri Kahiu for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency, her exclusive speakers bureau.

Titus Kaphar, an Artist Who Explores Race, History and Mass Incarceration, Named a 2018 MacArthur “Genius”

Titus Kaphar’s arresting sculptures, paintings and installations converge on art, history and civic agency, highlighting the lack of representation of people of color in the Western art canon. “I’m asking the viewer to try to piece that whole story together without leaving behind the valuable narrative of, in many cases, those people who’ve been silenced over the years.” This year his work has been recognized with a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, a distinction awarded to those forging truly significant progress towards building a more just and peaceful world.  

“I feel really strongly that if I can do anything to help other young folks who come from the kind of communities that I come from, discover their passion, discover the thing that motivates them, I will be a happy man.”

— Titus Kaphar

On why they chose Kaphar for their prestigious award, the MacArthur Foundation writes: “Kaphar’s commitment to social engagement has led him to move beyond traditional modes of artistic expression to establish NXTHVN, an art space based in New Haven, Connecticut (Winter 2019). It will provide studio spaces and residencies for artists and curators, and help cultivate an artistic community in a city plagued by deep and long-standing socioeconomic divides. NXTHVN turns the difficult lessons and insights gleaned from historical reflection into tangible, forward-looking action. Through a growing body of work that yokes grim yet naturalized historical realities to contemporary crises of social justice, Kaphar is marshalling the combined powers of art and history to effect social change.”   

Watch the MacArthur Foundation’s video interview with Titus Kaphar below: 

Painter Titus Kaphar | 2018 MacArthur Fellow


To book Titus Kaphar for a keynote talk, or another one of Lavin’s prestigious MacArthur Fellows, contact The Lavin Agency.  

Making it in New York City, Then and Now: Patti Smith

If you want to know what it takes for a young artist to “make it” in New York City, look no further than Patti Smith. That's what The Awl did in a recent article: they highlighted eight famous New York women writers working from the 1920s to the ‘70s, traced their paths to success, and showed us how this generation's artists fare in comparison, cost-wise. In doing so, The Awl reminds us how truly pioneering Patti Smith, a Lavin speaker, really was—and how far she’s come while staying true to her roots.

Using the CPI Inflation Calculator, The Awlanalyzed the cost of rent, food, clothes, and day-to-day living for women like Dorothy Parker, Susan Sontag and of course, Patti Smith. Here's what Smith's first shot at city living looked like:

In 1967, Patti Smith, newly in New York and living in the streets, finds two quarters in the grass of a park, which paid for breakfast for her. “Fifty cents was real money in 1967,” writes Smith. Fifty cents then is $3.41 now. And two years later, she scraped together change and went to the Automat for a lettuce and cheese sandwich. She thought it would cost 55 cents, but the price had increased by a dime, so she was short. A gallant Allen Ginsberg, then a stranger to Smith, paid the difference and they ate together. The adjusted cost of the sandwich over which Smith was mistaken for an attractive young man? $4.03.

When Smith, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, decided to make her big move, she was hoping to be a bookseller—and hoping she had enough money for a one-way ticket, which she didn't. The article continues: “she found a purse, underneath a public phone, that had not only a bus ticket in it, but also thirty-two dollars, which she described as “almost a week's paycheck at my last job.”

In her bestselling memoir, Just Kids, Patti Smith details her early years in New York with lifelong friend Robert Mapplethorpe, whom she made art with. She was named one of the most influential people in the world in TIME Magazine's TIME 100. In her talks, Smith describes the processes behind her varying artistic triumphs—and, of course, what it took to get there.

On CBS Sunday Morning, Patti Smith Discusses Music, Art & Friendship

On CBS Sunday Morning this week, Patti Smith, the legendary songwriter, author, poet, and photographer, discussed her career in an intimate hour-long interview. Smith performed two songs from her new album, Banga, and talked about her 2010 memoir, Just Kids. A bestseller and winner of the National Book Award, Kids is about her formative years in 1970's New York and her friendship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. When asked about Mapplethorpe's impact on her life, Smith said:

I had a sense that I had something, but Robert really instilled in me a deep belief that I had a calling just like he did. It's such a beautiful thing. It produced an alchemy. We had an alchemy where he infused his courage and his confidence in me and I gave him whatever I gave him, and both of us always kept that, until the end of his life. I knew the last moment I spoke to Robert before he died, which was only hours before, that we were still the same. We still knew who we were as individuals, but we knew our trust was a place in itself that was unviolated and unstained. And I still draw from it.

Smith goes on to share stories from her life, answering questions from the audience on everything from the notorious relationship between musicians and various vices to her thoughts on Jim Morrison. As a keynote speaker (another of the many hats she wears), Smith is a natural storyteller who unveils the true nature of what it means to be an artist—what motivates, inspires, and pulls someone towards the arts. With her new album on the horizon and an insatiable desire to create, Smith remains one of America’s most treasured artistic voices.