Rick Najera to Direct CBS DIVERSITY SKETCH COMEDY SHOWCASE For 10th Consecutive Year

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LOS ANGELES – (October 30, 2014) Award-winning film and television screenwriter, director, author and comedian, Rick Najera will direct THE CBS DIVERSITY SKETCH COMEDY SHOWCASE for the 10th consecutive year.

Writer-Director-Author Rick Najera
Writer-Director-Author Rick Najera

Each year, more than 4,000 talented and diverse actors audition for THE CBS DIVERSITY SKETCH COMEDY SHOWCASE.  20 standout performers are selected, and placed under the direction of Rick Najera and CBS’ production team, consisting of Fern Orenstein, Senior Vice President of Casting; Josie Thomas, Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer; Peter Golden, Executive Vice President, Talent and Casting and Tiffany Smith-Anoa’i, Vice President, Diversity and Communications. Since its conception, ten years ago, THE CBS DIVERSITY SKETCH COMEDY SHOWCASE has developed into a hybrid comedy show with Broadway-worth live performances and original, creative writing.

“Rick is an amazing director and an invaluable asset to the CBS Diversity Talent Showcase team,” said Tiffany Smith-Anoa’i. “Rick brings immense levels of passion, energy and expertise.  This program would not be as successful without his efforts.”

THE CBS DIVERSITY SKETCH COMEDY SHOWCASE highlights the talents of generally underrepresented ethnic groups such as Latinos, African Americans, Asian American/Pacific Islanders and Native Americans with extensive sketch comedy experience.  Additionally, actors with disabilities or LGBT actors of any ethnicity are cast and given the opportunity to play roles that point out the entertainment industry’s biases through satire and parody. Najera, an expert in entertainment diversity and author of award-winning book, “Almost White: Forced Confessions of a Latino in Hollywood,” works and mentors the most diverse talent pool in the industry.

Najera was first asked to direct the show in 2005 on the heels of completing a run on Broadway with his stage comedy, Latinologues.  He was the task and opportunity to shape the talents of a group of up-and-coming multicultural actors and put on an industry wide performance that brought attention to diverse talent. Najera agreed and a new standard of industry showcases was born.

Rick Najera Directs CBS DIVERSITY SKETCH COMEDY SHOWCASE for 10th Consecutive Year 2014/2015
Rick Najera Directs CBS DIVERSITY SKETCH COMEDY SHOWCASE for 10th Consecutive Year 2014/2015

Najera not only directs the show, but mentors the actors of all levels, teaches writing and stage performance, and punches up sketches that are close to falling flat. Najera pulls out the best from each actor and shapes the show into four live polished performances each January, that is presented to an overflowing theatre filled with casting directors, managers and industry agents.

It’s no wonder with Najera’s background in sketch comedy (“In Living Color”, “MAD TV”, “Latinologues on Broadway”) and keen eye for talent and direction, that more than 26 showcase actors have gone on to land series regular roles including “Saturday Night Live”.

Najera has received two Writers Guild of America (WGA) award nominations for Best Writer in a Television Series for Fox’s “MAD TV” and “50 Most Creatives in Hollywood” by Variety. Najera won an ALMA Award for writing the feature film, “Nothing Like the Holidays” starring Debra Messing, Elizabeth Peña, Alfred Molina, John Leguizamo and Freddy Rodriguez. The CBS Diversity Comedy Showcase will take place in January 2015.

For more information on Rick Najera, visit www.ricknajera.com.

CBS’s Rick Najera to Discuss Diversity in Hollywood on UCLA Panel Nov 5

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The Entertainment, Media, and Intellectual Property Law Program, The Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies and The Critical Race Studies Program Present a Discussion Forum on The CBS Network and Diversity in Hollywood


Knowledgeable and influential speakers will discuss the origins and practices of the CBS Network Diversity Program and the circumstances that gave rise to formalizing the effort to diversify network casting and employment, and how and why the Program has developed over its history. The complex, vertically-integrated manner in which the Program is supported from the top down within the CBS corporate structure will be examined.


Diversity in Hollywood will also be put into statistical focus by findings detailed in the groundbreaking 2014 Hollywood Diversity Report: Making Sense of the Disconnect, believed to be the largest and most comprehensive look to date at diversity in the entertainment industry, part of a series of analyses that will be done for the Bunche Center’s Hollywood Advancement Project.


The presenters include:

  • Fern Orenstein, Senior Vice-President, Casting at CBS Entertainment
  • Tiffany Smith-Anoa’i, Vice President of CBS Diversity and Communications
  • Rick Najera, Director, Writer, and Executive Producer
  • Darnell Hunt, Ph.D., Director, Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA and Professor of Sociology
  • Moderated by Lev Ginsburg, Partner, Ginsburg Daniels LLP


WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 2014 at 6:30 PM Room 1347 at the UCLA School of Law


Both the UCLA academic community and the general public is invited. Light refreshments will be served following the presentation. Unvalidated fee parking is available on-campus.



Rick Najera Stars in New HBO Special: Habla Men

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Rick Najera is one of the featured talents in the new HBO special, Habla Men, showing now. Watch a clip of his performance below:

See more info on the cast and crew of Habla Men here.

Rick Najera to Perform New Show, Almost White, in Charlotte, NC and Washington DC

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Award-winning writer-performer-director and author Rick Najera is scheduled to performance his new show in Charlotte, N.C. and in Washington D.C., based on his fourth and latest book, “Almost White: Forced Confessions of a Latino in Hollywood”.

Oct 11, 2014 – Performance of “Almost White” by Rick Najera, Gala Theatre, 3333 14th Avenue, Washington, D.C.20010; Show at 8pm. $20; Purchase Tickets here or call 202-234-7174

Oct 10, 2014 – Performance “Almost White” and Meet & Greet booking signing with Rick Najera, Wells Fargo Auditorium at The Knight Theatre presented by The Harvey B. Gantt Center; Doors open at 7pm, show at 8pm; $25.  Buy tickets here. 

Oct 9, 2014 - Benefit Performance of ‘Almost White’ and Meet & Greet book signing with Rick Najera, to benefit Camino Community Center; Venue: Dilworth Grille, 911 East Morehead St, Charlotte, NC 28204; Doors open at 6:30, show at 8:00pm; Tickets 704-377-3808

For more info, visit www.ricknajera.com.

Rick Najera to perform in Charlotte, N.C. Oct 10, 2014
Rick Najera to perform in Charlotte, N.C. Oct 10, 2014
Rick Najera to perform in Washington D.C. Oct 11, 2014
Rick Najera to perform in Washington D.C. Oct 11, 2014

Rick Najera Featured Speaker at San Diego’s Spirit of the Barrio Sept 19

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Native San Diegan Rick Najera will head back to his old stomping grounds to be the featured speaker at the popular Spirit of the Barrio lunch this Friday, September 19 in Logan Heights. Join the tamale lunch and purchase tickets here: http://www.fhcsd.org/news/eventdetail.cfm/eventid/111

Rick Najera featured speaker at Spirit of the Barrio Tamale Lunch, September 19, 2014
Rick Najera featured speaker at Spirit of the Barrio Tamale Lunch, September 19, 2014


Najera, Olmos, Huerta, Regil, Begley Jr. and Cesar Chavez Family Headline Colorado’s EcoFestival

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The 2014 Americas Latino Eco Festival will take place Sept 11-16, 2014 in Boulder County, Colorado. It is the largest Latino festival of its kind.

Americas Latino Eco-Festival 2014Rick Najera, Edward James Olmos, Ed Begley Jr, Dolores Huerta, Cesar Chavez family and more will all be featured speakers/performers during the 4-day special event.

Rick Najera’s hit Broadway show Latinologues will perform one-show only live on Friday, September 12 at 7:30pm. See the star-studded performers! Visit the program for tickets and more details.

Comedy stage play production by acclaimed writer Rick Najera (In Living Color, MADtv) brings his humorous memoir, Almost White: Forced Confessions of a Latino in Hollywood, to the stage. Revisiting his childhood, career and new family life, Najera’s story is about the 5 Ls: Latinos, life, love, laughter and la familia. Saturday, September 13. http://americaslatinoecofestival.org/program

The mission of the Americas Latino Festival is to promote environmental awareness and create a platform for dialogue and mobilization for a just society to ensure that everyone has access to a healthy environment.

The Americas Latino Festival promotes environmental awareness and unites diverse communities for a sustainable future through dialogue on the environment, health, education, culture, and small business entrepreneurship. To be held September 12-15, 2014, this will be the second environmental justice Latino themed festival in the United States once again with programming components bridging the gap between academia, K-12 education, arts, policy, business and Latino and non-Latino communities.

Events Include: Film Forum, Conscious Conversations, Arts Exhibits, Family Day, Performances
and ECO K-12 ExhibitionFor four days and throughout Boulder County, the festival will illuminate a variety of events, performances, and activities for all ages, races, economic backgrounds, and interests. 
Latinologues Eco-Festival 2014
Latinologues Eco-Festival 2014

NBC News Features Key Hollywood Influencer Rick Najera

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NBCIn a report published this week by NBC News, writer Raul A. Reyes talks to key Hollywood influencer Rick Najera on the response of a recent study released on Latinos in the entertainment industry.

Lights, camera, struggle? A recent study from the University of Southern California made headlines after concluding Latinos continue to be the most underrepresented group in Hollywood films. The report only confirms what Latino actors, producers, and advocates already know: It is tough to make it in Hollywood, but it is even tougher for Hispanics.

“If you are not seeing Latinos on camera, that means there are probably few Latinos behind the camera, or writing scripts,” says Najera.

Read full article here.