Featured Speakers

March 13-21, 2020

SXSW Featured Speakers are leading figures in society and industry, presenting mind-expanding ideas to shape today and tomorrow.

2020 Featured Speakers

2019 Featured Speaker, David Byrne – Photo by  Aaron Rogosin

2019 Featured Speaker, David Byrne – Photo by Aaron Rogosin

About Featured Speakers


Spanning the many themes and trends of SXSW, Featured Speakers present a snapshot of the ideas that can most transform our future. Browse 2020 Featured Speakers and Featured Sessions below.

To explore more influential speakers at SXSW, visit the Keynotes page and all confirmed 2020 programming on the SXSW Schedule.

Access these exciting speaker presentations and more when you register to join us this March for the 2020 SXSW Conference & Festivals in Austin, TX. Stay tuned for more SXSW programming announcements throughout the season at SXSW News.

2020 Featured Speakers


Stay tuned to SXSW News as even more Featured Speakers and Featured Sessions are added throughout the 2020 SXSW season.

As you get to know the latest speaker additions below, add events to your SXSW Schedule and explore 22 programming tracks associated with each Conference session.

  • Composer (Us, Get Out) Michael Abels in conversation with Politifact creator and professor Bill Adair (Making Film & Episodics Track)

  • TBWA\Media Arts Lab Global Chief Creative Officer Brent Anderson (Advertising & Brand Experience Track)

  • Beat Games s.r.o co-founder and Head of Music Jaroslav Beck (Future of Music Track)

  • Full Frontal with Samantha Bee host, comedian, writer, producer, and actress Samantha Bee (Media & Journalism)

  • Actor, entrepreneur, and Founder of Belushi’s Farm Jim Belushi (Cannabusiness Track)

  • Founder and Chief Trend Curator of the Non-Obvious Company Rohit Bhargava (Fantastic Future Track)

  • Producer, songwriter, artist Benny Blanco (Future of Music Track)

  • Researcher and #1 New York Times bestselling author Dr. Brené Brown as part of the launch of her new weekly podcast, Unlocking Us, in conversation with activist and #metoo founder Tarana Burke, on the topic of empathy (Climate & Social Action)

  • Amazon Web Services Vice President of Public Sector Partners and Programs Sandy Carter (Tech Industry & Enterprise Track)

  • Veteran industry executive and River House Artists founder Lynn Oliver-Cline (Creating & Monetizing Music)

  • Award-winning executive producer, writer, and host of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, bestselling author, actor, producer, and comedian Stephen Colbert (Film & TV Industry)

  • Future of Sex founder and podcast host Bryony Cole (Connection & Culture Track)

  • Patreon co-founder, musician, and filmmaker Jack Conte (Future of Music)

  • Entrepreneur, activist, and writer Anil Dash and writer and News Editor of The Root Monique Judge (Connection & Culture Track)

  • Cannabis rights activist Steve DeAngelo (Cannabusiness Track)

  • Co-founder and CEO of Twitter and Square Jack Dorsey in conversation with Axios business editor Dan Primack (Tech Industry & Enterprise)

  • Starburst Accelerator co-founder & Managing Partner Van Espahbodi (Space Track)

  • Investor and bestselling author Tim Ferriss in conversation with neuroscientist, philosopher, and bestselling author Sam Harris in a live version of The Tim Ferriss Show podcast, where they will discuss dangerous ideas, meditation, psychedelics, and more (Connection & Culture)

  • Graphika Chief Innovation Officer Camille François (Tech Industry & Enterprise Track)

  • Entrepreneurs and Magnolia founders Chip and Joanna Gaines (Media & Journalism Track)

  • Founder and Managing Partner of Backstage Capital Arlan Hamilton (Startups Track)

  • Center for Humane Technology co-founder and design ethicist Tristan Harris (Design)

  • Fashion designer and founder Tommy Hilfiger in conversation with Tommy Hilfiger Global CEO Daniel Grieder (Connection & Culture Track)

  • Entrepreneur and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes in conversation with TechCrunch’s Josh Constine (Tech Industry & Enterprise Track)

  • Author and co-founder and CEO of Affectiva Dr. Rana el Kaliouby (Fantastic Future Track)

  • Thirty Five Ventures co-founder and partner, and Kevin Durant’s manager Rich Kleiman in conversation with ESPN host, former basketball player, and entrepreneur Jay Williams in a discussion about The Boardroom: the innovative content platform that showcases the new way athletes & executives engage off the court and at the intersection of sports, business, tech, entertainment, and culture (Sports)

  • Cirque du Soleil, One Drop Foundation and Lune Rouge founder Guy Laliberté (Climate & Social Action Track)

  • WIRED Editor-At-Large and author Steven Levy with Senior Editor-At-Large at LinkedIn Jessi Hempel (Tech Industry & Enterprise Track)

  • Global adventurer, TV host, motivational speaker, and bestselling author Leon Logothetis (Connection & Culture)

  • Multi-Grammy Award winning musician, producer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Ben Lovett (Future of Music Track)

  • Designer, author and technologist John Maeda (Design Track)

  • Actor and comedian Cheech Marin in conversation with Filmmaker Robert Rodriguez (Connection & Culture Track)

  • Founder of music management company Monotone, Inc. and co-founder of the media and production group LBI Entertainment Ian Montone (Creating & Monetizing Music)

  • IMDb Founder and CEO Col Needham (Film & TV Industry Track)

  • Bassist, composer, and YouTuber Adam Neely (Future of Music Track)

  • Researcher and #1 New York Times bestselling author, Dr. Brené Brown as part of the launch of her new weekly podcast, Unlocking Us, in conversation with Queer Eye‘s Jonathan Van Ness, on the topic of vulnerability (Connection & Culture)

  • Professional speaker and storyteller Dan Nevins, Yoga instructor Gioconda Parker and Wanderlust Yoga Austin founder Ashley Spence in conversation about Rising Voices, a training platform that provides healing and authentic connection through storytelling (Climate & Social Action)

  • NSA Director of Cybersecurity Anne Neuberger with WIRED editor-in-chief Nicholas Thompson (Tech Industry & Enterprise)

  • James Beard Award-winning chef and author Kwame Onwuachi (Connection & Culture Track)

  • Executive Director of Los Angeles Department of Cannabis Regulation Cat Packer (Cannabusiness Track)

  • Canva CEO and co-founder Melanie Perkins (Design Track)

  • C3 Presents concert and festival promoter Huston Powell (Future of Music Track)

  • Boston Dynamics Founder and Chairman Marc Raibert (Tech Industry & Enterprise Track)

  • Google Stadia Games and Entertainment VP Jade Raymond in conversation with journalist Chris Morris (Game Industry Track)

  • Musician, producer and songwriter Nile Rodgers in conversation with music industry executive and entrepreneur Merck Mercuriadis (Creating & Monetizing Music Track)

  • Professor, sound engineer, and record producer Susan Rogers (Creating & Monetizing Music Track)

  • Riot Games Chief Diversity Officer Angela Roseboro (Game Industry Track)

  • New York Magazine and Vulture senior art critic Jerry Saltz (Design Track)

  • Screenwriter, director, and producer M. Night Shyamalan (Film & TV Industry Track)

  • Mycologist and author Paul Stamets (Health & MedTech)

  • Writer, journalist, editor, and science fiction novelist Bruce Sterling (Fantastic Future)

  • eOne Music Global President Chris Taylor (Creating & Monetizing Music Track)

  • Amazon.com Chief Technology Officer Dr. Werner Vogels (Tech Industry & Enterprise)

  • Quantitative futurist, author and founder and CEO of the Future Today Institute Amy Webb (Tech Industry & Enterprise Track)

  • Mojang Studios Chief Brand Officer Lydia Winters (Game Industry Track)

  • Reddit Chief Operating Officer Jen Wong (Advertising & Brand Experience)

  • Author and scholar Shoshana Zuboff (Tech Industry & Enterprise Track)

View Featured Speakers Schedule

All speakers subject to change.


  • The Age of Surveillance Capitalism (Tech Industry & Enterprise Track) – A conversation on the emergence of surveillance capitalism as the dominant form of information capitalism and its implications for individuals, society, and democracy in the 21st century with producer, musician, and songwriter T Bone Burnett, and author and scholar Shoshanna Zuboff.

  • Better Call Saul (Making Film & Episodics Track) – A conversation with Better Call Saul co-creator Vince Gilligan, co-creator and showrunner Peter Gould, actor Bob Odenkirk, and actress Rhea Seehorn.

  • Big Brother Is Racist: Surveillance vs. Persons of Color (Government & Politics Track) – A discussion about how surveillance and surveillance technologies, historically and currently, have been disproportionately deployed against persons of color, as well as the harmful impacts of such deployments, with Senior Advocacy and Policy Counsel at the ACLU Chad Marlow; Director of Georgetown Law’s Communications & Technology Law Clinic, and Associate Director of the Center on Privacy & Technology Laura Moy; Co-Director of MediaJustice Steven Renderos; and sociopolitical comedian, author, and host W. Kamau Bell.

  • The Bon Appétit Test Kitchen (Connection & Culture Track) – A behind-the-scenes conversation with Bon Appétit Test Kitchen chefs Brad Leone, Claire Saffitz, Andy Baraghani, Molly Baz, Chris Morocco, Carla Lalli Music, and Alex Delany appearing on stage together for the first time outside of New York.

  • Changing the Immersive Storytelling Wild West (Experiential Storytelling Track) – A conversation about how to collaborate to create sustainable, transformative and inclusive work in immersive storytelling, between Royal Shakespeare Company Director of Digital Development Sarah Ellis; anthropologist, technologist, professor and Intel senior fellow Genevieve Bell; and Guild of Future Architects Executive Director Kamal Sinclair. Moderated by Watershed CEO Clare Reddington.

  • Escaping Doom: Transforming Science into Experience (Design Track) – A conversation about how scientific research can be integrated into an engaging, entertaining, and educational storytelling experience, with Gensler principal David Kramer; University of Texas Assistant Dean, School of Design and Creative Technologies Doreen Lorenzo; Associate Professor in the Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Texas Fernanda Leite; and general manager of Unreal Engine at Epic Games Marc Petit.

  • Featured Session: Courtney A. Kemp, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson & Jeffrey Hirsch (Film & TV Industry Track) – Join executive producers Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and Courtney Kemp from Starz’s Original Series Power, as they sit with president and CEO of Starz, Jeffrey Hirsch, for a look inside the wildly popular drama series as well as upcoming expansions to the Power cinematic universe including the upcoming spinoff, Power Book II: Ghost starring Mary J. Blige.

  • Featured Session: Hear To Slay Podcast with Roxane Gay & Tressie McMillan Cottom (Connection & Culture Track) – A live podcast recording offering compelling conversations and uncommonly incisive reads of the politics and pop culture that shape the world we live in, featuring writer, editor and podcaster Roxane Gay; award-winning professor and author Tressie McMillan Cottom; and Special Guest.

  • The Future of Independent Media (Media & Journalism Track) – A discussion about what journalism will look like in 10 years: the evolving relationship between audiences and journalists, how journalism will be funded in the future and the intersection of technology and independent media, with Director of Investments, Independent Media for Luminate Nishant Lalwani, Rappler CEO Maria A. Ressa, and Principal of NWong Strategies Nicole Wong.

  • The Future of Influence is #accountable (Advertising & Brand Experience Track) – A conversation about the spread of misinformation on social platforms and the responsibility of influencers, featuring actress and activist Sophia Bush and Seed Health co-founder and co-CEO Ara Katz.

  • How to be Political in an Apolitical World (Future of Music Track) – A conversation about political activism in the music industry and the role artists can play in driving change, featuring Run the Jewels manager Amaechi Uzoigwe; #iVoted founder Emily White; Middle West Management and “46 for 46” founder Kyle Frenette; and artist and activist Madame Gandhi.

  • Immersive Entertainment and the Future of Games (Game Industry Track) – Join technology pioneer, entrepreneur, and scientist Nolan Bushnell; founder of Collabsco Valerie Vacante; and Hollywood Creative Director turned game maker Zai Ortiz.

  • Latino Film Institute: Pipeline, Platform & Launch (Film & TV Industry Track) – A conversation about the ideas and programs that LFI have placed into action to address the lack of representation in Hollywood and focus on the next generation of content creators, featuring Director of Research and Civic Engagement for the Division of Social Sciences at UCLA Dr. Ana-Christina Ramón; actor producer and humanitarian Edward James Olmos; Founder & Co-Program Manager of LatinX in Animation Magdiela Hermida Duhamel; and writer and Latino Film Institute executive director Rafael Agustin.

  • The Music World Beyond Streaming (Future of Music Track) – A conversation about authenticity and brand partnerships in music, with President, CMO, and Founding Partner of WeTransfer Damian Bradfield and Founder and CEO of Q&A Troy Carter.

  • Less Trust, More Truth: The Web 3.0 Thesis (Tech Industry & Enterprise) – A presentation on trust, truth, and the new internet with Ethereum co-founder and CTO Dr. Gavin Wood with a Q&A by Austin Blockchain Collective Executive Director Pete Harris.

  • Nat Geo Storytellers: Exploration Unleashed (Film & TV Industry Track) – A conversation about modern day exploration with National Geographic’s award-winning scientist, technologist and adventurer Albert Lin, and award-winning correspondent, investigative journalist, and National Geographic’s Mariana van Zeller.

  • Sparking Female Stories: Hulu’s Little Fires Everywhere (Making Film & Episodics) – Join the powerhouse production team behind Hulu’s upcoming adaptation of Celeste Ng’s 2017 bestseller, Little Fires Everywhere, for a conversation around the changing dynamics of the entertainment industry today. Showrunner and executive producer Liz Tigelaar, directors Lynn Shelton, Nzingha Stewart, Michael Weaver, and executive producers Lauren Neustadter of Hello Sunshine and Pilar Savone of Simpson Street will discuss the importance of using storytelling as a means of charting a new path forward for women and how they are working with stars Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington, who are leading the charge in female-driven productions, to transform gender and ethnic representation in film and television.

  • Supernatural: 15 Years of Fandom (Making Film & Episodics) – From the series launch in 2005 on the former WB Network to the current 15th and final broadcast season on The CW, Supernatural is a case study in how a little “series-that-could” beat the odds to become the longest-running American sci-fi series in television history. Produced by Warner Bros. Television, series stars Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles and Misha Collins will join a panel of Supernatural experts, including Samantha Highfill from Entertainment Weekly and Alice Jester from The Winchester Family Business, to discuss how a series with more than 300 episodes continues to trend on social media, sell out magazine covers and merchandise, pack fan conventions around the world, and be a force for social good — all while trying to make a positive and lasting impact.

  • Technology + Storytelling = Magic (Experiential Storytelling) – Today’s technological revolution is changing the game when it comes to experiential storytelling, and Disney is staying ahead of the curve by leveraging emerging tech to revolutionize the Guest Experience. In this conversation, Bob Chapek, Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products, will be joined by Disney Imagineers to give attendees a behind-the-scenes look at some of the incredible innovations Disney uses to bring stories to life at destinations around the world.

  • The Women Who Run the Shows (Film & TV Industry Track) – A discussion about the experiences of female showrunners, their unique backstories and influences, including their early days in the industry to calling the shots, and their roles in comedy and on set, with multi-talented stand-up comedian, writer, and actress Phoebe Robinson; Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens showrunner Karey Dornetto; and Executive Producer and showrunner of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah Jen Flanz.

View Featured Sessions Schedule

All speakers subject to change.

Welcome to the Future | SXSW 2020

Join creatives, innovators, and thought leaders from around the world and turn your ideas into reality this March.

Experience 10 days of unparalleled discovery, learning, and networking across tech, film, and music industries at the 2020 SXSW Conference & Festivals from March 13-22, 2020 in Austin, Texas.

Brandi Carlile Interviews Elisabeth Moss at SXSW 2019

Grammy winning singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile interviews Emmy Award-winning actress Elisabeth Moss about her intense transformation to play punk rocker Becky Something in the acclaimed film Her Smell.

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Featured Session: Elisabeth Moss with Brandi Carlile - Photo by Travis P Ball/Getty Images for SXSW

Featured Session: Elisabeth Moss with Brandi Carlile - Photo by Travis P Ball/Getty Images for SXSW

Trevor Noah and The Daily Show News Team on Changing Media at SXSW 2019

CNN Anchor and Chief Washington Correspondent Jake Tapper sat down with The Daily Show host Trevor Noah and correspondents Ronny Chieng, Michael Kosta, Desi Lydic, Dulcé Sloan, Roy Wood Jr., and Jaboukie Young-White to panel harder than anyone has ever paneled before at SXSW 2019.

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Trevor Noah and Jake Tapper at The Daily Show with Trevor Noah Featured Session – Photo by Travis P Ball/Getty Images for SXSW

Trevor Noah and Jake Tapper at The Daily Show with Trevor Noah Featured Session – Photo by Travis P Ball/Getty Images for SXSW

Stacey Abrams: Making Change Out of Defeat at SXSW 2019

Sit down with Stacey Abrams for a conversation covering how to stay mad but stay busy and ultimately drive lasting and meaningful change.

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2019 Featured Speaker, Stacey Abrams - Photo by Danny Matson/Getty Images for SXSW

2019 Featured Speaker, Stacey Abrams - Photo by Danny Matson/Getty Images for SXSW

Neil Gaiman on Taking Good Omens from Book to Screen

Prepare thyself, something wickedly good this way comes. Best-selling author Neil Gaiman took to the SXSW stage for a conversation with writer and actress Kirsten Vangsness about his mini-series adaptation of Good Omens.

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2019 SXSW Featured Speaker, Neil Gaiman – Photo by Alexa Gonzalez Wagner

2019 SXSW Featured Speaker, Neil Gaiman – Photo by Alexa Gonzalez Wagner

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Government and Courage at SXSW 2019

New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sat down with The Intercept‘s Senior Politics Editor Brihna Gray for a conversation at SXSW 2019 about identity, the race/class divide, and how these factors are likely to play out in the years ahead.

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2019 SXSW Featured Speaker, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – By Merrick Ales

2019 SXSW Featured Speaker, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – By Merrick Ales

Tinker Hatfield on Design with Scott Dadich at SXSW 2019

Tinker Hatfield, Nike’s VP of Creative Concepts and legend among sneaker-heads, breaks down the creative process, exploring how different disciplines of design influence, inform, and inspire each other along with Abstract co-creator Scott Dadich.

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2019 Featured Session, Tinker Hatfield with Scott Dadich - Photo by Christopher Bouie

2019 Featured Session, Tinker Hatfield with Scott Dadich - Photo by Christopher Bouie

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Featuring 22 tracks of programming, the SXSW Conference invites attendees to explore what’s next in the worlds of film, culture, music, and technology.

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