Image of writer, editor, and culture critic, Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay

Writer, Editor & Culture Critic

Roxane Gay is a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times whose work appears in Best American Mystery Stories 2014, Best American Short Stories 2012, Best Sex Writing 2012, Harper’s Bazaar, A Public Space, McSweeney’s, Tin House, Oxford American, American Short Fiction, Virginia Quarterly Review, and many others.

She is the author of the books Ayiti, An Untamed State, the New York Times bestselling Bad Feminist, the nationally bestselling Difficult Women, and New York Times bestselling Hunger: A Memoir of My Body. She is also the author of World of Wakanda for Marvel and the editor of Best American Short Stories 2018.

Gay is currently at work on film and television projects, a book of writing advice, an essay collection about television and culture, and a YA novel entitled The Year I Learned Everything.


Portrait of Cynthia Erivo

Cynthia Erivo

Tony®, Emmy®, and Grammy® Award-winning Actress, Singer & Songwriter

Cynthia Erivo is a Tony®, Emmy®, and Grammy® Award-winning actress who burst onto West End and Broadway stages in “The Color Purple” and has already taken the big screen by storm.

Erivo is currently starring as ‘Belle’ in Steve McQueen’s drama, “Widows,” opposite Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, and Elizabeth Debicki. The film and the cast have received recognition from the Los Angeles Online Film Critics Society, and Erivo has been nominated for a Critics’ Choice Awards as part of the ensemble.

Erivo can also be seen in Drew Goddard’s “Bad Times at the El Royale,” for which she received a Washington Area Film Critics Association Award nomination for “Best Supporting Actress.”


Portrait of Hari Kondabolu

Hari Kondabolu

Comedian, Writer & Podcaster

Hari Kondabolu is a comedian, writer, and podcaster based in Brooklyn. He has been described by The NY Times as “one of the most exciting political comics in stand-up today.” In 2018, his Netflix special “Warn Your Relatives” was released and he was named one of Variety’s Top 10 Comics To Watch.

Hari has released two comedy albums (“Waiting for 2042” and “Mainstream American Comic”) and has performed on The Late Show with David Letterman, Conan, Jimmy Kimmel Live, John Oliver’s NY Stand-Up Show, and @Midnight. A former writer and correspondent on the Chris Rock-produced FX show, “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell,” in 2017, Hari released his critically acclaimed documentary, “The Problem with Apu” on truTV.


Portrait of Cynthia Erivo

Moderator, Kirk A. James

NYU Professor (Silver School of Social Work) & Human Rights Advocate

Kirk Anthony James is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the NYU Silver School of Social Work. He completed his doctorate from the School of Social Policy and Practice at The University of Pennsylvania in May 2013. His dissertation, “The Invisible Epidemic in Social Work Academia,” examined the complex phenomena of mass incarceration through a historical and contemporary lens. He concluded by developing curricula for Master level students to increase awareness, activism and holistic practice in the milieu. Courses developed from his dissertation have been implemented at Columbia University, Temple University, City College, and the University of Pennsylvania, among others.