The SXSW 2019 Conference & Festivals are taking place from March 8-17. South By Southwest is the largest gathering of creative professionals in the world. Ranging from politicians, filmmakers, comedians, musicians, CEOs, and more, these speakers and acts are known for breaking down barriers and challenging the status quo of their respective industries.

Top motivational speakers at SXSW 2019

1Jessica Williams
Actress & Comedian

Jessica Williams is a member of the cast of Booksmart, which is appearing at the SXSW 2019 Film Festival. Williams is a former senior correspondent for The Daily Show, making her the youngest and first female African-American correspondent in the history of the show. She has also appeared in The Incredible Jessica James, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, and HBO’s Girls.

2Nick Westergaard
Chief Brand Strategist, Author & Educator

Nick Westergaard is the Chief Brand Strategist at Brand Driven Digital and the author of Get Scrappy: Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small. At SXSW 2019, he is taking part in the How to Build a Standout Brand in a Crowded World session. Westergaard is a branding expert, and helps organizations ranging from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies build better brands.

3Aidy Bryant
“Saturday Night Live” Cast Member

Aidy Bryant is currently in her seventh season as a Saturday Night Live cast member. She has also appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, The Big Sick, and I Feel Pretty. Bryant is the star, writer, and co-executive producer of the upcoming Hulu series, Shrill.  The show is based off of the book Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman. Bryant is headlining a session at SXSW alongside actress Elizabeth Banks.

4Guy Kawasaki
Chief Evangelist of Canva

Guy Kawasaki is the Chief Evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design program. At the conference, he is set to headline a session with Senator Mazie Hirono. Kawasaki is the author of multiple books including The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users, The Art of the Start, and Reality Check: The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition.

5Arlan Hamilton
Founder, CEO & Managing Partner of Backstage Capital

Arlan Hamilton is Founder and CEO of Backstage Capital, a venture capital fund that invests in founders who are people of color, women, and/or members of the LGBTQ community. Hamilton built the company while she was homeless, making her one of the most exceptional entrepreneurs out there. At SXSW, Hamilton is headlining her own session.

6Jordan Peele
Academy Award-Winning Filmmaker

Jordan Peele is a filmmaker known for his critically acclaimed film, Get Out. It won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, making Peele the first African-American to win the award in that category. His second film, Us, is appearing at the SXSW 2019 Film Festival and is set to premiere nationally on March 22. The film stars Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, and Elizabeth Moss.

7Mira Sorvino
Academy Award-Winning Actress 

Mira Sorvino is part of the cast of the 2019 film, Stuber, alongside Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista. She has won an Academy Award and Golden Globe Award, and has appeared in Modern Family, A Christmas to Remember, Psych, and Will & Grace. Sorvino is also an ambassador for the United Nations on Human Trafficking.

8Jamira Burley
Founder of ProjectZ & GenYNOT

Jamira Burley is taking part in the Building Authentic Movements in the 21st Century session at SXSW. Like many of the conference’s speakers, Burley is known for disrupting the status quo. She has implemented community engagement, anti-violence initiatives, education reform, criminal justice reform, and youth engagement across multiple projects. In 2018, she was the first United States citizen to be awarded the Global Leadership Award for Vital Voices.

9Frank Oz
Film Director, Actor & Puppeteer

Frank Oz is a four-time Emmy winner who has performed with The Muppets and in Star Wars films as a puppeteer. He has also received The Art Director’s Guild Award, The Comedy Awards’ Creative Achievement Award, Saturn Lifetime Achievement Award, and the George Foster Peabody award. Oz has also directed several films including Little Shop of Horrors, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and Death at a Funeral.


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