5:39pm PT by Chris Gardner
Lisa Ling, Politicians Rob Bonta and Ritchie Torres Talk Identity, Activism During Endeavor Panels
For agents at Endeavor and WME, not only has work gone virtual in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but so has the extracurricular programming. Keeping in line with the agency’s efforts to support diversity, inclusion and politically-engaged staffers, Endeavor has been offering a miniseries of private virtual discussions.
The most recent took place Oct. 22 and was a collaboration of employee resource groups Endeavor HOLA, Endeavor Proud and the Endeavor Black Collective. It featured WME agent Ryan Draizin in conversation with Bronx-born Ritchie Torres, a Democrat currently running for a spot in the U.S. House of Representatives.
During the conversation, which touched on Torres’s policies and perspective on the current political climate, he said, “I’m cautiously optimistic that if all the stars are aligned, we will be well-positioned to deliver sweeping change for the benefit of the American people.” He did, however, warn that “the greatest threat to progressive policy” is the Supreme Court, specifically pointing toward, “right-wing judicial activism.”
It’s a subject that has dominated headlines in recent days with the appointment and confirmation of conservative judge Amy Coney Barrett who officially joined the Supreme Court two days ago. Another part of the conversation found Draizin asking Torres what Endeavor and its employees could do can do moving forward. Torres noted that “most people are not active in politics, but are active in popular culture” emphasizing that Endeavor “can be enormously influential in encouraging people to be socially and politically active.”
Another conversation took place days earlier, on Oct. 20, hosted by the Asian Coalition of Endeavor and featuring California State Assemblyman Rob Bonta in conversation with veteran TV host and journalist Lisa Ling and her husband Dr. Paul Song. Moderated by Endeavor Content’s Kevin Iwashina, the chat focused on the Asian-American experience in relation to current events and the upcoming presidential election.
Timely topics considering the rise in racism and bias directed at Asian Americans in what has proven to be a culturally divisive 2020. Also, heading into the election, much has been made about the potential influence of Asian Americans at the polls yet the demographic has been linked with voter apathy, based on 2016 results.
Iwashina noted a passiveness in the community when it comes to voting, to which Ling said, “It’s astounding when you stop to think about it. That over 100,000 Japanese Americans were forced to live in camps during World War II. Still to this day, Asians lag behind other demographics when it comes to voting.” She cited a statistic that of eligible Filipino voters, “Just over 50 percent are registered, and of those who are registered, just over 50 percent vote consistently. We are leaving so much on the table.”
Ong, an oncologist, linked his political passion to the Affordable Care Act. “One in three people who has cancer goes into financial ruin as a result of their diagnosis,” he explained, adding that he “couldn’t stand by while patients went bankrupt or couldn’t access care because of the way that the private insurance industry held control.”