Nava recipient of first Artist Circle Award

A local branch of a prominent anti-bias organization has honored writer-director Gregory Nava, the Writers Guild of America West and WGAW president John Wells with awards for promoting diversity in show business.

“The lack of opportunities for women, people of color and those over 50 in the entertainment industry is well documented,” said Sunni Smith, executive director of the Santa Monica Bay Area Region of the National Conference for Community & Justice (formerly known as the National Conference of Christians and Jews). “But these winners have found a way to break through these historic barriers and make a difference.”

Nava, whose credits include “El Norte,” “A Time of Destiny,” “Mi Familia,” “Selena” and “Why Do Fools Fall in Love,” told a news conference at WGAW headquarters that the globalization of show business makes it increasingly important for films to break down barriers rather than raise them.

“This industry has a responsibility to make that kind of film because the images go throughout the world,” said Nava, who is the organization’s first recipient of its Artist Circle Award.

Wells and the WGAW received Humanitarian awards, Smith said, for seeking to increase participation of female, minority, disabled and writers over 40 through a variety of programs. “They have been active as an agent for change at a time when it wasn’t popular,” she added.

Wells, who became WGAW president in September after two years as vice president, was also cited for his efforts to attract women, minorities and older performers, writers and directors to his productions.

“I’m honored to have been chosen for my efforts to promote diversity,” said Wells, the executive producer of “ER” and “The West Wing.” “It is an even greater honor to be accepting this award on behalf of the WGAW. The Guild has been working for more than 30 years to address the inequities in our industry.”

The trio will be honored at the organization’s 40th annual Humanitarian Awards Dinner on Feb. 10 at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica.

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