The SXSW Conference has added music executive Nabil Ayers, Candle Media co-CEO Kevin Mayer, MediaLink CEO Michael Kassan and singer-author Michelle Zauner as keynote speakers for this month’s gathering in Austin, Texas.
SXSW confirmed the final lineup of featured speakers, which now includes Pete Buttigieg, U.S. Secretary of Transportation; investor Bill Gurley of Benchmark; former Texas Congressional rep Beto O’Rourke with Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith; actors Gillian Jacobs and Joel McHale, who will appear virtually; and civil rights activists Ju’Niyah Palmer and Kenneth Walker.
The newly announced keynotes include Ayers, the U.S. president of music label Beggars Group, with journalist and radio host Andy Langer; MediaLink CEO’s Kassan and Mayer in conversation with Variety co-editor-in-chief Cynthia Littleton. Zauner is singer and guitarist for indie darlings Japanese Breakfast and author of “Crying in H Mart.”
Also joining as a keynote speaker is Maria Ressa, journalist and author who is the co-founder and CEO of Rappler, and is the first Filipino recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
“We’re excited about today’s final additions to the 2022 Conference lineup,” said Hugh Forrest, SXSW’s chief programming officer. “These speakers join a roster that represents some of the most innovative, and dynamic talent in the many different industries that make SXSW the global destination for creative professionals.”
The annual festival and conference highlighting music, movies, TV, digital and more will be held for its 36th year from March 11-20 with a combination of in-person events and online experiences. SXSW has not been held in person since 2019.
Founded in 1987, SXSW celebrates the intersection of film, music and technology with everything from live concerts to comedy shows to panels on technology and art, as well as networking events for professionals in a wide range of industries. The organization previously announced keynote speakers Beck and Lizzo, who will appear alongside other speakers including actors Ethan Hawke and Busy Philipps, NBC News president Noah Oppenheim and more.
Read the full list of newly announced speakers below, and read more about the conference or register to attend on the SXSW website. (In April 2021, Variety parent company P-MRC set a deal to become a partner and shareholder in SXSW.)
Other newly unveiled featured speakers include:
- Ruha Benjamin, Professor of African American studies at Princeton University and author
- Ju’Niyah Palmer, activist and sister of Breonna Taylor
- Lady Pheønix founder and CEO of YESUNIVERSE
- Sutu, award-winning augmented reality designer, avant-garde movie producer, and multimedia artist
- Kenneth Walker, civil rights activist and partner of Breonna Taylor
- Director and actress Gillian Jacobs (appearing virtually) with actor and comedian Joel McHale (appearing virtually) to discuss STEM and Jacobs’ documentary, “More than Robots”
- Former congressman and candidate for Texas governor Beto O’Rourke in conversation with Texas Tribune CEO and co-founder Evan Smith
(Pictured: Kevin Mayer, Pete Buttigieg and Nabil Ayers)