Lizzo, Beck Announced as SXSW Keynotes

Festival also adds cyberpunk pioneer Neil Stephenson

Lizzo performs at the 2019 ACL Festival (photo by Jana Birchum)

The Grammy winners are coming! The Grammy winners are coming! South by Southwest (running March 11-20) just added a slate of extra panels and keynotes to the conference, including two one-namer musical mavericks: Beck and Lizzo.

Joining a keynote roster that already includes Planned Parenthood CEO Alexis McGill Johnson and Reggie Fils-Aimé, aka the man who turned Nintendo around, the "Truth Hurts" star and triple Grammy winner will be in town just ahead of the premiere on Amazon of her new reality show, Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls. Lizzo opened auditions for the series via Instagram last year with a cry of "Where are all the big girls?" The show was announced as a "search for dynamic, full-figured women to join her world and perform with her on stage."

Just as recognizable from a single moniker, and just as much of an musical fusion innovator, is fellow keynoter Beck, whose inimitable psycho-soul-folk-funk-electronica fusion has won him eight Grammys and a 2022 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nomination.

But SXSW is not just about music, but all disciplines, including literature and technology. Enter keynote number four Neal Stephenson. The godfather of modern futurism, master of speculative fiction, pioneer of OG cyberpunk in novels like Snow Crash and conspiracy madness in Cryptnomicon, his works have often been an inspiration for many technologists (not always in a fashion of which he would approve), and his dystopian optimism has helped shape the moden world more than many people realize.

Fusing politics, filmmaking, and technology, fourth new keynote Celine Tricart is an experienced director and cinematographer who pushed the boundaries of what can be achieved with VR in 2016 with "The Sun Ladies," her 2016 documentary about an all-female combat unit of Yezedi women fighting Daesh. Tricart has called VR "an empathy machine," and she's continued her experimental work with films like "The Key," an animated interactive dream allegory narrated by Alia Shawkat.

Announcing this keynote list, SXSW Chief Programming Officer Hugh Forrest said, “These acclaimed creatives, along with the Featured Speakers revealed today, exemplify why SXSW is an essential destination for global professionals.”

That featured speaker list also pulls in a surprising number of political heavy hitters and high office holders, including House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff, Surgeon General of the United States Dr. Vivek Murthy, and United States Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. Meanwhile, Stephenson won't be the only author in attendance: the demon dog of crime fiction, James Ellroy, author of the groundbreaking alt history L.A. Quartet, will discuss adapting his grimy classic American Tabloid into a podcast. Not that he'll be alone on the audio entertainment front, with Bob Odenkirk (post-Better Call Saul) talking about his new comedy work on Audible.

As always, the conference will take a look at the future of tech as part of our lives, for good and ill. On the potentially panglossian beat, fest veteran Mark Cuban will host the panel Predicting the Future of Entertainment with Fireside, while on the less upbeat side there'll be a panel dedicated to Instagram Syndrome, and the absurd pressure created by hustle culture making everyone think they have to run a series-A startup by the time they leave college.

The 29th annual SXSW runs March 11-20, 2022. Badges and info at sxsw.com, and keep up with all our SXSW news, reviews, announcements and interviews (plus our unbelievably extensive archive) at austinchronicle.com/sxsw.

Here's that full list of panels added today:


SXSW programming descriptions:

Newly Announced Keynote Speakers:

• Global superstar, three-time Grammy Award-winning artist, and star and Executive Producer of Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls, a new unscripted series premiering this spring on Prime Video, Lizzo
• 2022 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominee and eight-time Grammy Award-winning artist Beck
• Bestselling author of novels such as Termination Shock, Fall; or, Dodge in Hell, and the seminal Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
• Award-winning director, producer and immersive storyteller Celine Tricart

Newly Announced Featured Speakers:

(l-r) Busy Philipps, Renée Elise Goldsberry,, Sara Bareilles, and Paula Pell in Peacock original GIRLS5EVA (photo courtesy of Heidi Gutman/Peacock)

• The women of critically-acclaimed comedy, Girls5eva, will reunite for a panel discussion about the series and what to look forward to in season 2. Confirmed panelists include Grammy Award-winning artist, songwriter, actress, author, and philanthropist Sara Bareilles, Tony Award-winning actress and Grammy Award-winning singer Renée Elise Goldsberry, New York Times Best-Selling author, actor, activist, writer and previous late-night talk show host of Busy Tonight Busy Philipps, Emmy and Writers Guild Award-winning actor and SNL writer Paula Pell, and Emmy Award-winning American screenwriter, showrunner and producer Meredith Scardino
• Singer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and Director of Omoiyari Kishi Bashi
• Graphic designer and director BEEPLE with the founder of Dot Dot Dot Laurie Segall
• Director of OPTIV Federal Services Nycki Brooks; former Associate Vice Chancellor for Cybersecurity Initiatives at the Texas A&M University System Dr. Stephen Cambone; CEO and a board member of Optiv Federal Services Kevin Lynch; and the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Chief Data Officer David Spirk
• Founder and President of Deborah Brosnan & Associates Dr. Deborah Brosnan with entrepreneur John Paul DeJoria.
• Investigative writer and producer Nile Cappello, founder and CEO of Campfire Studios Ross Dinerstein, New York Times #1 bestselling author and TV personality Chrissy Teigen and Primetime Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Marina Zenovich discuss their investigation into the Remnant Fellowship Church, including a first look at part two of their HBO Max docuseries The Way Down: God, Greed, and the Cult of Gwen Shamblin.
• CEO of Candid Ann Mei Chang
• Professor, serial entrepreneur, bestselling author, podcast host, and host of a new CNN+ show on business and tech, Scott Galloway
• Founder & CEO of Treefort Media Kelly Garner and Academy Award-nominated actor and screenwriter Ethan Hawke talk about their forthcoming Audible Original scripted series FISHPRIEST. 
• United States Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland
• Co-founder and President of the Center for Humane Technology Tristan Harris
• Advocate, data scientist and algorithmic product manager Frances Haugen
• Chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group (UFEG) Donna Langley with CNN media reporter Frank Pallotta
• Actor, director and investigative reporter for SLATE Ben McKenzie; labor and technology reporter for Motherboard Edward Ongweso; and technology and national security staff writer for The New Republic Jacob Silverman

Vice Admiral Vivek H. Murthy, MD, MBA, U.S. Surgeon General (photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

• Surgeon General of the United States Dr. Vivek Murthy
• Queer Eye star, founder of JVN Hair, Host and Executive Producer of Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness, New York Times bestselling author, podcaster and hair stylist Jonathan Van Ness with writer, poet and comedian ALOK
• Chairman and CEO of American Airlines Doug Parker with Executive Editor of MRO and Business Aviation Lee Ann Shay
• Founder of Built It Productions and the co-founder of Tinkercast Guy Raz with Partner and Head of Audio at UTA Oren Rosenbaum
• Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff with CNN Anchor and Chief National Affairs Analyst Kasie Hunt
• Creator and unofficial “Queen of Clubhouse” Swan Sit
• CEO and co-owner of FaZe Clan Lee Trink
• President and Chief Media Analyst of Variety Intelligence Platform Andrew Wallenstein with Senior Media Analyst at Variety Intelligence Platform Gavin Bridge
• President and Founder of the New Breath Foundation Eddy Zheng

Newly Announced Featured Sessions:

Accidental Entrepreneurs: Embracing Imperfection to Unlock Scale: Originally an idea written on an Austin napkin in 2018, Bala has changed the ultra-serious, exclusionary nature of the fitness industry – a sea of lookalike brands running the same playbook; one defined by unreasonable expectations and the heartache of falling short – through beautiful, functional fitness equipment. In this session, lifelong entrepreneur and co-founder of Fireside Mark Cuban, co-founder of Bala Maximilian Kislevitz, co-founder of Bala Natalie Holloway and digital creator and relationship and advice expert Tinx will discuss an unexpected, borderline absurd approach to launching and scaling a fitness brand.

Anthem: A Conversation with Noah Hawley: Award-winning showrunner, filmmaker and bestselling novelist Noah Hawley (creator of FX’s Fargo and Legion) speaks with Jeffrey Goldberg, editor-in-chief of The Atlantic, about Hawley’s sixth and newest novel Anthem, a thoughtful and entertaining cultural commentary for the real world we live in that examines a plethora of ongoing issues ranging from political divisions to climate change – all in Hawley’s uniquely incisive voice.

Bridging into the Metaverse: 5 Top Considerations for Brands: By answering questions such as is the metaverse a fad, how should your brand approach the metaverse and  how should brands protect – and represent – their IP in the metaverse, co-founder and COO of The Sandbox Sébastien Borget will share his insights into the emerging best practices and top considerations for brands as they bridge into the metaverse.

Bringing The Umbrella Academy to Life: In this session, join writer, showrunner and executive producer Steve Blackman, director and executive producer Jeff King, producer and senior VFX supervisor Everett Burrell, and COO of DigitalFilm Tree Nancy Jundi, with senior VFX artist Carlo Vega, and game engine producer Andrea Aniceto-Chavez as they unpack one of Netflix’s biggest hits, taking you through time, epic battles and the emotional journeys of family.

Exploring the Mysteries of Undone: A Look Inside Season 2: Join us for a conversation with the cast and creative team of Prime Video’s groundbreaking, critically acclaimed series Undone ahead of its long-awaited second season. Series stars Rosa Salazar, Angelique Cabral, and Constance Marie will be joined by co-creator/showrunner Kate Purdy and director/executive producer Hisko Hulsing to explore the nuances of marrying complex family dynamics and themes of mental health with genre defying spectacle brought to life through its unique style and process – giving fans their first insights into how the upcoming season will expand in surprising new directions.

The Future of News is NOW: As consumers of news have been changing their viewing habits in transformative ways, join NBC News President Noah Oppenheim, MSNBC President Rashida Jones, TODAY All Day’s Al Roker, NBC News NOW Anchor Tom Llamas and Peacock’s The Choice from MSNBC Host Symone Sanders for a discussion on how the News Group’s three distinct streaming networks have found early success connecting with viewers in the rapidly growing digital space while continuing to provide compelling content for traditional television services.

GO BACK TO WHERE YOU CAME FROM!: In this session, journalist, writer, lawyer, award-winning playwright, TV host, and consultant for the U.S. State Department Wajahat Ali teaches those of us who allegedly come from "shithole countries” how to survive and thrive in a country where you're seen as both "us" and "them," how to fight back, how to make sure there's enough spices in the chicken and enough halal meat and how to defeat both Thanos and white supremacy with the ethnic Avengers and do it with a smile on your face.

How will Artificial Intelligence Change the Future of Film and Television?: Technological advancements such as CGI and digital cameras have played a major role in how we shape cinema, but what’s the next big revolution for this industry? In this session, Assistant Professor in the Department of EECS at the University of California at Berkeley Angjoo Kanazawa, actor, producer and co-founder and President of Wonder Dynamics Tye Sheridan and award-winning filmmaker, visual effects supervisor, entrepreneur, and co-founder and CEO of Wonder Dynamics Nikola Todorovic will explore how years of scientific research in Computer Vision, Robotics and Autonomous Vehicle Perception can be applied to Film and Television production and discuss how AI will revolutionize the future of storytelling.

Impact of “Instagram Syndrome” on Entrepreneurs’ Mental Health: Young innovators are suffering from “Instagram Syndrome” – the idea that everyone has hustled their way to a fully funded company and a matching lifestyle by age 30. But this curated perfect reality couldn’t be further from the truth. In this session, get real advice from writer, artist and cartoonist Gemma Correll, founder of Sprout Pharmaceuticals and The Pink Ceiling Cindy Eckert, co-founder and CEO of LivePerson Rob LoCascio and acclaimed author, speaker and life coach Tim Storey as they discuss perhaps the most important aspect of the entrepreneurship journey: the massive mental toll inflicted on leaders and explore how we can better prepare them for the struggles and path ahead.

Less Talk, More Tools for an Inclusive Workforce: You have a limited budget, a short timeframe, and a high level of pressure to support the changing needs of your company. With the world changing daily, the need to ensure people aren’t left behind is even more critical. During this panel, founder and Managing Partner of Backstage Capital Arlan Hamilton and co-founder and CEO of Future for Us and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leader at Amazon Sage Ke'alohilani Quiamno will share tools that can help you scale inclusive solutions fast and without breaking the bank while focusing on how we can all move forward together within the societal impacts of the evolving workplace.

Move Over NFTs. Here Come the DAOs: The latest crypto concept to seize investors’ imagination are DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations.) DAOs have suddenly rocketed to prominence as investor pools, charitable organizations and community projects embrace them to reduce administrative waste and curb middlemen’s control over resource allocation. In this session, Chief Content Officer of CoinDesk Michael Casey, founder of Big Green and the Big Green DAO charity Kimbal Musk, artist & activist Nadya Tolokonnikova and Friends with Benefits Mayor Alex Zhang will be honing in on the application of DAOs to social activism, where they could enable groups of people who share similar values and ideals to collectively organize around the pursuit of their shared objectives without the risk of capture by special interests.

S. Mitra Kalita, co-founder and CEO of URL Media

Navigating a New Era of the Digital Media Business: As digital-first media consumption begins to plateau, media companies have had to reassess business models to remain profitable and competitive in an increasingly crowded landscape. In this session, join founder and Managing Partner of Precursor Ventures Charles Hudson, co-founder and CEO of URL Media S. Mitra Kalita, co-founder and CEO of Axios Jim VandeHei and President of Vox Media Pam Wasserstein for a discussion on the evolving digital media business, from VC and paywalls to subscriptions and sponsorships, and what it all means for companies and consumers alike.

Podcast and the Art of Adaptation: In this session, international bestselling crime fiction writer and essayist James Ellroy (author of American Tabloid, LA Confidential, The Black Dahlia) and Chief Creative Officer of Audio Up Jimmy Jellinek will focus on their shared experiences adapting American Tabloid, with Ellroy discussing his experience taking his work and turning it into audio entertainment and Jellinek discussing his experience creating award winning, scripted podcasts.

Predicting the Future of Entertainment with Fireside: In this session, lifelong entrepreneur and co-founder of Fireside Mark Cuban, co-founder and CEO of Fireside Falon Fatemi and founder and CEO of the Emmy Award-nominated digital media brand, What's Trending Shira Lazar will discuss how Fireside's first-of-its-kind participatory entertainment technology is being utilized to invent entirely new show formats, along with to the rapid rise of web3 entertainment and the possibilities it unlocks for the future of the entertainment business.

Public Health – Tech is Coming for You: The COVID-19 pandemic illuminated how a century of complacency had left us with antiquated indoor health security measures – ones that were expensive, inequitable, unsustainable, and ripe for disruption. During this panel, Associate Professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Joseph G. Allen, Chair of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Mayo Clinic Dr. Elie F. Berbari, founding President & CEO of the Center for Active Design Joanna Frank and co-founder and CEO of R-Zero Grant Morgan will meet to discuss how COVID-19 accelerated the technology and innovation to deliver healthier buildings – which is driving the delivery of more equitable, effective and sustainable human and planetary health.

Reinvigorating Science and Technology for the Future of U.S. Innovation: The state of the U.S. research and innovation ecosystem is at a critical inflection point. With an urgent need for rapid advances that address societal challenges such as human health, climate change, sustainable agriculture and food production, equitable access to education and more, the U.S. faces the risk of falling behind unprecedented global competition if we do not take action now. In this session, Director of the U.S. National Science Foundation Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan will share his passion and excitement for the future of the research and innovation ecosystem, describe how the NSF has fueled major technological innovations and supported generations of scientists and engineers who have paid dividends for our economy and national defense, discuss how we will grow and evolve into the 21st century and drive scientific progress, improve technology transfer from lab to market and invest in research infrastructure as well as STEM opportunities for all Americans and speak to the personal inspiration behind his dedication to building pathways into STEM education and careers for everyone who has the drive and passion to learn.

That Sounds Funny: A Conversation with Bob Odenkirk and Audible: As audiences worldwide seek out new and innovative content created ‘for your ears,’ Head of Audible Studios Zola Mashariki joins Emmy Award-winning comedy writer, producer, actor, and director Bob Odenkirk and comedy writer Nate Odenkirk for a discussion about making comedy for audio and how the format pushes the boundaries of storytelling.

“The Boys” Are Back! Inside Prime Video’s Hit Series: Ahead of the highly-anticipated third season of the Emmy Award-nominated series, join actors Karl Urban, Laz Alonso, Karen Fukuhara, Jessie T. Usher, Chace Crawford, Jensen Ackles and executive producer Eric Kripke as they dive into the intersections of superhero and celebrity culture, the zeitgeist shattering epic moments that redefined the genre, and offer up insights on how The Boys has navigated key moments of cultural inflection while subverting expectations.

Risk and Behavioral Scientist Sweta Chakraborty

We Don’t Have Time – Act on Climate Now: Join United States President of We Don't Have Time Dr. Sweta Chakraborty and the creatives behind #dontchooseextinction — the campaign that urges world leaders to end all fossil fuel subsidies – UNDP Goodwill Ambassador and actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, United Nations Development Programme Global Chief Creative Officer Boaz Paldi and Co-Founder & CEO of Mindpool Mik Thobo-Carlsen as they discuss how everyone has a role to play in confronting the climate crisis and how we can utilize the power of social media to hold leaders accountable for their actions. 

Welcome to Your Digital Afterlife: A conversation with multi-hyphenate, creator, writer and Executive Producer of the Prime Video series Upload, Greg Daniels (The Office, Parks and Recreation) and futurist and an award-winning author Amy Webb in which they discuss the concept and genesis of Greg Daniels’ Prime Video sci-fi, comedy Upload, near-future technology featured in both Season One and the upcoming Season Two and their opinion on the metaverse’s impact on society.

What’s Your Life’s Soundtrack? How Music Creates the Score to Our Lives: Everyone knows the feeling. A song comes on, and it can transport you back to a moment in time, a special memory. Today, more than 6 million Americans are losing these moments to Alzheimer’s, and this number is projected to skyrocket to nearly 13 million by 2050. In this session, join frontman and founding member of WALK THE MOON Nicholas Petricca and the President of the Alzheimer's Association Dr. Joanne Pike as they discuss The Alzheimer’s Association’s award-winning platform, Music Moments, a digital storytelling series featuring moments we never want to lose, signifying to people impacted by Alzheimer’s and all other dementia that they are not alone.

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