DEG to Honor Google’s Shalini Govil-Pai and USC Cinema Dean Elizabeth Daley With Hedy Lamarr Awards

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group will present Shalini Govil-Pai, VP and GM of TV platforms at Google, with the 2023 Hedy Lamarr Award for Innovation in Entertainment Technology.

At the same time, the Hedy Lamarr Inspiration Award will be presented to Dean Elizabeth Daley of the USC School of Cinematic Arts, for her pioneering adoption of cutting-edge technology into curriculum and practice. 

In its seventh year, the Hedy Lamarr Awards recognize female executives in the fields of entertainment and technology who have made a significant contribution to the industry. 

Govil-Pai drove the creation of Google TV from the ground up, working to bring the best of Google — from Search, to Assistant, YouTube, Play and Nest — together to create a transformative experience for users, according to the DEG. She now leads a team of more than 300 engineers, product managers, UX designers, partnership managers, and others — a business within Google — and is a champion for diversity, equity, and inclusion, especially of women, as well as a respected international speaker and author on digital production trends, the DEG noted. Google CEO Sundar Pichai has called Google TV “one of the best products Google has ever made.” 

“I am thrilled that the Hedy Lamarr Innovation Award for 2023 will recognize Shalini Govil-Pai of Google, who is leading the way in providing consumers with smooth, intuitive, convenient and attractive user experiences to connect with all the content they want, when and where they want it,” DEG president and CEO Amy Jo Smith said in a statement. “There is no more important issue to the future of in-home entertainment.” 

“I am pleased and excited to accept the Hedy Lamarr Innovation Award from DEG,” Govil-Pai said in a statement. “My career has been dedicated to using technology to help storytellers connect with audiences and I am honored to accept this recognition of the role technology plays in telling our stories, and the role women play in technology.” 

Daley is the longest serving Dean at USC, where she has led the growth and technological transformation of what has been ranked as one of the most successful and important film and media arts programs in the world, according to the DEG. As part of the digital transition in the School of Cinematic Arts, Dean Daley founded the Entertainment Technology Center @ USC in the early 1990s to foster collaboration between academics, students and the media and entertainment industry. 

The Inspiration Award was created this year by the Hedy Lamarr Awards judging panel to recognize Dean Daley’s long influence on the next generation of content creators. Moving forward it will be presented only in those years when the judges encounter a candidate who demonstrates the highest level of technological leadership, generosity of talent and commitment to the growth of budding storytellers and technologists. 

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The 2023 Hedy Lamarr Achievement Award for Emerging Leaders in Entertainment Technology, honoring a female college student whose studies in the fields of entertainment and technology have shown exceptional promise, will be presented to two students for 2023: Lily Chen, an undergraduate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology majoring in Mathematics with Computer Science; and Memphis Grace MacPherson, an undergraduate student at the University of Southern California who is majoring in Art, Technology, and the Business of Innovation in the Iovine Young Academy, with a minor in Themed Entertainment in the School of Cinematic Arts. Each will receive a financial award to continue her education. 

UCLA student Ingrid Lee, a Computer Science and Engineering major with a Theatre minor, is recognized as a Finalist for the Award. 

“The judging panel was just blown away by the accomplishments of Dean Daley,” Smith said in a statement. “She can only be called visionary and the influence she has exerted on decades of aspiring content creators makes her one of the very most impactful people working in entertainment technology globally. It is because of leaders like her that we have an ever-growing pool of highly qualified student applicants for the Hedy Lamarr Award. Congratulations to Dean Daley and to our 2023 student stars, Grace MacPherson, and Lily Chen, who are so talented and already well on their way to careers in entertainment technology.” 

The awards will be presented during an in-person event in Los Angeles on Nov. 7, near the anniversary of Lamarr’s birth (Nov. 9, 1914). 

Austrian American actor Lamarr was a Hollywood legend who is best known for her roles in film classics including Samson and Delilah, The Strange Woman and Tortilla Flat. She was also a lifelong inventor whose innovative work included pioneering “frequency hopping,” which became the foundation for spread spectrum technology. Conceived by Lamarr and composer George Antheil for radio guidance systems and patented in 1942, this highly secure technology resists interference and dropout, and is used today for a variety of cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth applications. 

To honor Lamarr, the Innovation Award seeks to recognize and commemorate female industry leaders who have made a similar impact in the field of entertainment technology. Past honorees include Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media; Nonny de la Peña, CEO of Emblematic Group; Dean Willow Bay of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism; Sara DeWitt, VP of PBS Kids Digital; Poppy Crum, former chief scientist at Dolby Laboratories; and Paulette Pantoja, founder & CEO of Blu Digital Group. 

To determine the award winners, DEG enlisted industry leaders including members of its Canon Club Advisory Board, which comprises a cross-section of senior executives representing the entertainment, technology, IT, and consumer electronics industries. Among other factors, the judging panel based its decisions on the candidates’ embodiment of the following principles: innovation, engagement and excellence. 

2022 Hedy Lamarr Awards Reception

Blu Digital Group founder and CEO Paulette Pantoja was honored the evening of Nov. 16 as this year’s winner of the sixth annual Hedy Lamarr Award for Innovation in Entertainment Technology. The award, presented by DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, recognizes female executives in the fields of entertainment and technology who have made a significant contribution to the industry. Also feted, with the 2022 Hedy Lamarr Achievement Award for Emerging Leaders in Entertainment Technology, was Danielle Takahashi, an undergraduate student at the University of Southern California who is majoring in Media Arts and Practice in the School of Cinematic Arts. This award is given each year to a female college student whose studies in the fields of entertainment and technology have shown exceptional promise.

DEG Announces Upcoming Los Angeles Event Dates

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group is planning a series of upcoming events in Los Angeles.

Aug. 23, in concert with Media Play News, the DEG will produce an event feting the magazine’s “40 Under 40” honorees, presented in the August issue. The event will take place 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Skirball Cultural Center.

Oct. 12 the DEG will present its TechOp 2022 Awards. Nominations are open through Aug. 19. Categories include the Best Multi-Company Team Collaboration Award, Everyday Hero Award and Localization Trailblazer Award.

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Nov. 15 the DEG will celebrate its Hedy Lamarr Awards with a reception and hold its annual meeting. The DEG is honoring Paulette Pantoja, founder and CEO of Blu Digital Group, with the Hedy Lamarr Award for Innovation in Entertainment Technology.

No times or locations have been announced for the October and November events.

Blu Digital Group’s Paulette Pantoja to Be Honored With DEG’s Hedy Lamarr Award

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group will present Paulette Pantoja, founder and CEO at Blu Digital Group, with the 2022 Hedy Lamarr Award for Innovation in Entertainment Technology.

In its sixth year, the Hedy Lamarr Award recognizes female executives in the fields of entertainment and technology who have made a significant contribution to the industry. The 2022 awards will be presented during an in-person event in Los Angeles in the fall. 

Paulette Pantoja

Pantoja founded Blu Digital Group in 2007 with a focus on quality control for film and TV content distributed on physical media. Her focus on proprietary workflows and her patented applications have since grown the company into a go-to solution for content owners and platforms of all sizes that need to deliver streaming content at highest quality and with best user experience, according to the DEG. Blu Digital Group’s cloud-based automation software for content distribution has demonstrated real innovation, and Pantoja’s expansion of the localization division within Blu in 2021 further broadened the company’s ability to deliver international content to audiences around the world, according to the DEG.

After working at Ascent Media and Panasonic Hollywood Labs, Pantoja set up Blu Digital as the first dedicated Blu-ray Disc testing facility. In 2015, she evolved the business to provide content services for the digital media supply chain, leveraging Blu’s cloud-based automation software for content distribution to broadcasters and OTT platforms. In 2017, Blu began licensing its software to give clients control and visibility of their content preparation and distribution workflows. The company now also provides localization services and ad-insertion technology. Since its founding, Blu Digital Group has reached more than 300 million viewers, provided media services for more than 25 film and TV titles recognized by the Academy Awards and Emmy Awards, and has serviced 3 million content hours. In 2021, Blu was recognized as one of the Inc. 5000 Fastest-Growing Private Companies in the United States, and Pantoja this year is an Ernst & Young Greater Los Angeles Entrepreneur of The Year 2022 finalist.

The 2022 Hedy Lamarr Achievement Award for Emerging Leaders in Entertainment Technology, honoring a female college student whose studies in the fields of entertainment and technology have shown exceptional promise, will be presented at the same time to Danielle Takahashi, an undergraduate student at the University of Southern California who is majoring in Media Arts and Practice in the School of Cinematic Arts. She will receive a financial award to continue her education.

“It is my honor and pleasure to recognize Paulette Pantoja, who is well known to many in the DEG community, with this year’s Innovation Award. Throughout her career, Paulette has focused on proprietary workflows and her patented applications help streamline key operational aspects for entertainment companies. By extension, consumers benefit every day from Paulette’s innovations,” Amy Jo Smith, DEG president and CEO, said in a statement. “It is also an immense pleasure to present the Achievement Award to Danielle Takahashi to support her use of her artistic skills for empowerment, social justice, and fostering empathy through storytelling. The 2022 Hedy Award winners are remarkable women in their field who clearly share Hedy’s passion for innovation.”

“I am so excited to accept the Hedy Lamarr Innovation Award from DEG,” Pantoja said in a statement. “I strive to build a culture of innovation and inclusion at Blu Digital, and DEG is helping to do that on an industry level with these awards recognizing women, who have traditionally been underrepresented in media technology. The pace of technology is always evolving, and I am honored to accept this recognition of Blu’s dedication to developing better and more efficient media management workflows.”

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Austrian American actor Lamarr was a Hollywood legend who is best known for her roles in film classics including Samson and Delilah, The Strange Woman and Tortilla Flat. She was also a lifelong inventor whose innovative work included pioneering “frequency hopping,” which became the foundation for spread spectrum technology. Conceived by Lamarr and composer George Antheil for radio guidance systems and patented in 1942, this highly secure technology resists interference and dropout, and is used today for a variety of cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth applications. To honor Lamarr, the Innovation Award seeks to recognize and commemorate female industry leaders who have made a similar impact in the field of entertainment technology. Past honorees include Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media; Nonny de la Peña, CEO of Emblematic Group; Dean Willow Bay of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism; Sara DeWitt, VP of PBS Kids Digital; and Poppy Crum, former chief scientist at Dolby Laboratories.

To determine the award winners, DEG enlisted industry leaders including members of its Canon Club Advisory Board, which comprises a cross-section of senior executives representing the entertainment, technology, IT and consumer electronics industries. Among other factors, the judging panel based its decisions on the candidates’ embodiment of the following principles: innovation, engagement and excellence.

PBS’s Sara DeWitt Presented With DEG’s Hedy Lamarr Award

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group Nov. 9 presented its fourth annual Hedy Lamarr Award for Innovation in Entertainment Technology to Sara DeWitt, VP of PBS Kids Digital.

The DEG created the Innovation Award to recognize female executives in the fields of entertainment and technology who have made a significant contribution to the industry.

DeWitt was surprised by presenters in masks and gloves who gave her the award in her home during the virtual event.

“A fun thing about this being virtual is that my whole family is here with me,” DeWitt said, surrounded by her kids and husband.

“Sara oversees PBS kids streaming video services, the PBS kids games app and PBSkids.org, which collectively serve over 13.5 million visitors each month,” said PBS CEO Paula Kerger, who introduced DeWitt. “Under her leadership PBS Kids has produced and published cutting-edge experiences for children from AR games and podcasts to game video hybrids and texting programs. Her drive to understand how digital media can impact children’s learning has yielded profound findings from a variety of research studies, and she’s established the gold standard for children’s digital privacy and security.”

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DeWitt paid tribute to Lamarr, an Austrian-American actress who was a Hollywood legend and lifelong inventor whose innovative work included pioneering “frequency hopping,” which became the foundation for spread spectrum technology. Conceived by Lamarr and composer George Antheil for radio guidance systems and patented in 1942, this highly secure technology resists interference and dropout, and is utilized today for a variety of cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth applications. PBS chronicled her life in the “American Masters” documentary Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story.

“I loved this story of this glamorous movie star moonlighting as a technological powerhouse, but I think what struck me the most as I watched that ‘American Masters’ documentary Bombshell was how long it took for her contributions to come to light, that silence of 50 years from the time that she received her patent for the idea of frequency hopping to the time of actual public recognition for it,” DeWitt said. “And when I think about that piece of the story I get really frustrated. I hope many of you are as well. It just reemphasizes for me the importance of amplifying the successes of women here and now, women in technical fields, women in my own organization, women in our community. It reaffirms to me too how critical it is to provide opportunities for more voices, for those underrepresented in our industry to be heard and celebrated so that no one has to wait 50 years for their groundbreaking work to come to light.”

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DeWitt, who was a teacher before joining PBS, stressed the power of programming in helping kids envision their future.

“The media that we create has so much power to introduce kids to places and to people that they’ve never know about before,” she said. “Good storytelling has the power to help children imagine exciting possibilities for themselves and good technology can help even more children gain access to the tools and the resources that they need to realize these possibilities. I hope that our innovation at PBS Kids can inspire all children and all of those little girls in our audience to think big and to think about their own future to create new inventions and new art and new discoveries that won’t take 50 years to be recognized.”

The DEG also virtually presented the Hedy Lamarr Achievement Award for Emerging Leaders in Entertainment Technology, which recognizes female college students whose studies in the fields of entertainment and technology have shown exceptional promise. The Emerging Leader award was presented to Molly Mielke, who is earning her bachelor’s degree in film, TV and digital media at UCLA. Mielke will receive a financial award to continue her education. Her work can be found on her website, mollymielke.com.

Lamarr’s son Anthony Loder also joined the virtual event.

“It’s wonderful that you’re sharing her legacy forward in history while making history of your own,” he said.

Nominations for the 2021 awards are open Nov. 10 on the DEG website.

DEG Seeks Nominees for 2020 Hedy Lamarr Innovation Award

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group is soliciting nominations for the fourth annual “Hedy Lamarr Award for Innovation in Entertainment Technology,” which recognizes female executives in the fields of entertainment and technology “who has advanced and impacted the industry in a unique manner that drove meaningful change.”

The deadline for submissions is Feb. 14. A nomination form can be downloaded here.

Austrian-American actress Hedy Lamarr was an actress best known for her roles in films such as Samson and Delilah, The Strange Woman and Tortilla Flat. She was also a lifelong inventor whose innovative work included pioneering “frequency hopping,” which became the foundation for spread spectrum technology. Conceived by Lamarr and composer George Antheil for radio guidance systems and patented in 1942, this highly secure technology resists interference and dropout, and is utilized today for a variety of cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth applications.

DEG created the Hedy Lamarr Awards to recognize and inspire pioneering work by the multi-faceted female leaders in the entertainment industry.

DEG presented its first “Hedy Lamarr Award for Innovation in Entertainment Technology” in 2017 to Academy Award winning actress and advocate Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. The following year, DEG presented the award to Nonny de la Peña, CEO of Emblematic Group. The 2019 award went to Willow Bay, dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

DEG also presents the “Hedy Lamarr Achievement Award for Emerging Leaders in Entertainment Technology,” which recognizes female college students whose studies in the fields of entertainment and technology have shown exceptional promise.

The first Emerging Leader award was presented to Johanna Baumann of the University of Michigan in 2017. Cassidy Pearsall of Carnegie Mellon University received the award in 2018. In 2019 it was presented to Maya Tribbitt of USC Annenberg and USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

Applications for the scholarship are available here.

The awards will be presented in November.

For more information, contact Bekah@degonline.org or visit www.degonline.org/canon-club.

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