The annual SXSW Conference will be hosted virtually this spring with online sessions being offered from March 16-20th. This year will include two Featured Sessions focusing on projects from the Walt Disney Company: FXX’s comedy Dave and National Geographic’s Genius: Aretha.

What’s Happening:

  • Many big annual events have had to switch to hosting their programs virtually, but that hasn’t stopped them from offering an impressive lineup of speakers and panels.
  • South by Southwest (SXSW) is going virtual this year with SXSW Online taking place March 16–20, 2021.
  • The 2021 event will include:
    • Keynote address from Willie Nelson
    • Dozens of Featured Speakers
    • Over 230 conference sessions
    • Music Festival showcases
    • Film Festival screenings
    • And much more
  • Among the Featured Sessions offered this year are two panels featuring the cast and creative team behind FXX’s Dave, and National Geographic’s anthology series Genius.

Inside Genius: Aretha, the Story of the Queen of Soul

  • A conversation about National Geographic’s Genius, an Emmy-winning anthology series that dramatizes the fascinating stories of the world’s most brilliant innovators, exploring their extraordinary achievements along with their volatile, passionate, and complex personal relationships.
  • Season three will explore Aretha Franklin’s musical genius, incomparable career and the immeasurable impact and lasting influence she has had on music and culture around the world.
  • The panel of guests exploring the craft and care that goes into honoring Franklin’s legacy and bringing her story to life include:
    • Anthony Hemingway – executive producer and director
    • Brian Grazer – producer and author
    • Cynthia Erivo – actress and singer
    • Jennifer Bryan – Broadway and television costume designer
    • Suzan-Lori Parks – Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright

Hi, I’m Dave:

  • FXX’s Dave is based on the life of Dave Burd (aka Lil Dicky), and centered on a neurotic man who’s convinced himself that he's destined to be one of the best rappers of all time.
  • The critically-acclaimed first season explored ambition, mental illness and masculinity in the world of hip-hop.
  • Making their first panel appearance for Dave at SXSW are:
    • Dave Burd (aka Lil Dicky) – co-creator/executive producer/writer/star
    • Jeff Schaffer – co-creator/executive producer
    • Saladin Patterson – executive producer
    • GaTa – series star
  • Season 1 is available on FX on Hulu; season two will premiere on FXX in 2021.

More SXSW Online:

Other Newly Announced Featured Sessions Include:

  • AI and Great Power Competition
  • Can VR Create Real Change?
  • From Moonlight to The Underground Railroad
  • RIP Live Shows? Concerts in the Time of COVID

Newly-announced Featured Speakers include:

  • Samantha Bee
  • Taraji P. Henson
  • Matthew McConaughey
  • Alexi Pappas

Audiences can find a full list of Featured Sessions and Featured Speakers on the SXSW website.

What They’re Saying:

  • Hugh Forrest, Chief Programming Officer: “No individual has had the cultural impact on, or been more synonymous with the creative vibrancy of Austin than Willie Nelson, and we are incredibly honored to have him as a SXSW Online 2021 Keynote. In addition to dozens of incredible Featured Speakers, today’s announcement also includes more than 200 sessions curated from our global community via PanelPicker, and is a key part of the premium content you can expect from SXSW Online 2021.”

About SXSW:

  • Founded in 1987 in Austin, Texas, SXSW is best known for its conference and festivals that celebrate the convergence of the interactive, film, and music industries.
  • In 2021, the event moves to a digital format. SXSW Online offers conference sessions, music showcases, film screenings, exhibitions, and a variety of networking and professional development opportunities.