Although less than a year old, Hoyawood is building a bridge between Hollywood and Washington. A newly formed organization, led by President Reilly Dowd (SFS ’12) and Vice President Elle Leonsis(COL ’14), Hoyawood aims to connect the entertainment industry with Hoyas through events such as documentary screenings and guest panel discussions. This week, Hoyawood is hosting its inaugural speaker event with Sandra de Castro Buffington, director of the Hollywood, Health and Society program at the University of Southern California’s Norman Lear Center.

The first keynote speaker for Hoyawood, Buffington holds a unique job that seems to be very compatible to the group’s goals and mission. As the director of HH&S, she aims to improve public health awareness and well-being through the entertainment industry. Mostly focused on the television sector, Buffington has worked on a variety of TV productions, including familiar shows such as “House” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” She advises top writers and producers on health storylines, connecting health professionals and specialists with Hollywood to help build credible storylines while educating public viewers at the same time. Joining top names such as Jennifer Lopez and Soledad O’Brien in PODER Hispanic magazine, Buffington was named one of the 100 most influential Hispanics in America.

Beyond the relevance of Buffington’s work on Hoyawood, hosting her as Hoyawood’s first keynote speaker bears particular significance to club president Dowd. “My summer working for Sandra de Castro Buffington is largely what inspired me to start Hoyawood, so I am thrilled that she is willing to share her stories and expertise with the Georgetown community,” Dowd wrote in the event description on Facebook.

Shortly after establishing Hoyawood, Dowd invited Buffington to offer insight on connecting two industries that may appear unrelated.

“She’s amazing, and she really embodies the bridge between global health and Hollywood. More importantly, she bridges entertainment to real-world issues. Sometimes it takes a celebrity to make people listen. But it takes the passion and commitment behind the celebrity to bring the mission to life, and that’s exactly what Sandra does,” Dowd said.

As a prominent member of both the health and entertainment industries, Buffington also serves as a model who makes a difference for the public through the powerful influence of the entertainment industry. Her involvement with Hollywood has paralleled her work with health experts, prompting social transformation in the public. Furthermore, she has managed to include coverage of topics of personal importance to her. For example, she has used entertainment to showcase diseases that disproportionately affect Latinas.

When asked who would enjoy this Hoyawood event, Dowd said, “Anyone [should come who has] … an interest in the entertainment industry, dramatic television [writing or] a career in global health, or [anyone with] a simple curiosity about how the business works and how health storylines can impact viewers around the world. It is sure to be an exciting evening.”

With such broad topics covered, the Sandra de Castro Buffington event will have something for everyone.

“An Evening with Sandra de Castro Buffington — Thinking Globally in Hollywood” will take place today, March 16, at 6 p.m.  in Healy 106, the Philodemic Society room. For more information about the event or Hoyawood, please contact Reilly Dowd at [email protected]

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