As part of its mission to promote products, platforms and distribution channels that support the movie and TV industry, one of the goals of the DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group has been to help cultivate a vibrant community for women in entertainment and technology. To aid in that effort, DEG created Canon Club, which strives to be a place where women at all levels and in all sectors of the digital entertainment business are welcome to share knowledge and build their business networks.
Canon Club was founded in 2014 during a lunch organized by DEG president and CEO Amy Jo Smith and attended by a small group of women who held senior posts across the digital entertainment industry and related businesses. Robin Tarufelli of Deloitte, Canon Club’s chair since 2019, and board advisor Darcy Antonellis of Amdocs were among the initial group. That first gathering took place in Beverly Hills at a restaurant on Canon Drive, providing the group with its name.
“DEG’s goal with Canon Club has always been to provide women at all levels of media and entertainment a community to foster knowledge and communication, and to help all of the great, talented women in our industry find their voices to influence the evolution of this dynamically evolving business,” Smith said.
At Canon Club’s core are a series of salons, held in-person, and since the COVID pandemic also virtually, that bring female executives together to learn from speakers and one another. Recent salons have featured Sara DeWitt, SVP and GM of PBS Kids; female founders Paulette Pantoja of Blu Digital Group, Teresa Phillips of Spherex, and Nelly Voukaki of Looper Insights; senior Edelman executives speaking on leading with empathy; and Catlin O’Shaughnessy Coffrin of Captivating Co. on Building Your Personal Brand.
In mid-October Canon Club will for the second time present a daylong management training for members produced in partnership with Xperi. On Oct. 18, members will participate in a Developing Courageous Leadership Workshop, based on the work of Dr. Brené Brown and her playbook for developing brave leaders and courageous cultures, Dare to Lead.
Canon Club also offers less-structured, informal networking events, such as a recent lunch outing to the Academy of Motion Pictures Museum, hosted by DEG and Giant Worldwide.
In 2023, after a few years of mostly virtual events, Canon Club has hosted multiple in-person events all over Los Angeles, culminating with the Hedy Lamar Awards on Nov. 7 at The Skirball Center.
To foster the spirit of knowledge sharing and inspiration for all women in the business of home entertainment, DEG under the auspices of Canon Club in 2017 created the Hedy Lamarr Awards to recognize and inspire pioneering work by the multi-faceted female leaders in the entertainment industry. Each year the organization recognizes both industry executives and female college students whose studies in the fields of entertainment and technology have shown exceptional promise. The 2023 Hedy Lamarr Award for Innovation in Entertainment Technology will be presented to Shalini Govil-Pai, VP and GM of TV Platforms at Google. In 2023, Dean Elizabeth Daley of the USC School of Cinematic Arts also will be honored with the Hedy Lamarr Inspiration Award for her pioneering adoption of cutting-edge technology into curriculum and practice.
In addition to Tarufelli and Antonellis, Canon Club’s current advisory board includes vice chair Meri Hassouni of Giant Worldwide, Blu Digital Group CEO Paulette Pantoja, Cineverse’s Yolanda Macias, Intel’s Allison Gordon, Microsoft’s Dametra Johnson-Marletti, Movies Anywhere’s Karin Gilford, NCBUniversal’s Nadia Haney, PBS Distribution president Andrea Downing, Premiere Digital Services’ Michele Edelman, Spherex co-founder and CEO Teresa Phillips, Vizio’s Katherine Pond, Whip Media president Carol Hanley, Xperi’s Loren Nielsen, as well as Janice Pearson and Jessica Schell.
The group is already busy planning a robust slate of activities for 2024.
“As part of Canon Club’s 10th anniversary next year, look for a new emphasis on the inclusion and early career development of younger female executives,” Smith said.
Canon Club membership is inclusive — any employee of a DEG member company is welcome to participate. More information about the group or its events can be found by visiting DEGonline.org/canon-club/ or emailing email@example.com to be included on its mailing list.