Opening Keynote Speaker
Wednesday 8:30 – 9:30 AM
For more than three decades, her name, face, and distinctive voice have been known by audiences everywhere, thanks to her many award-winning works in television, radio, film, digital media, comedy, and her new book; a romance suspense novel, called, DESTINY LINGERS, which is endorsed by Dr. Maya Angelou. The National Book Club Conference awarded Rolonda with the Bebe Moore Campbell Award for Excellence in Storytelling. She has also received the Editor’s Choice Award, as well as the Rising Star Award.
Most know her by one name, Rolonda, under which she launched her own internationally syndicated talk show (1994-1998), produced by her company, Watts Works, in association with King World Productions. Rolonda began her television career as a local CBS news reporter at WFMY-TV in Greensboro, North Carolina, before joining New Jersey Network, WNBC-TV where she was nominated for an Emmy Award for her Excellence in Live TV News Coverage. She would later join the WABC Eyewitness News team in New York where she served as an investigative news reporter and anchor. Ro later co-hosted Lifetime television’s talk show Attitudes before joining Inside Edition as weekend anchor, producer, and senior correspondent. Then TV mogul Roger King made Ro an offer she couldn’t refuse; her own internationally syndicated TV talk show, Rolonda, which you can still watch today on The Rolonda Watts Channel on YouTube!
Ro’s deep, rich, and raspy voice is one of the most recognized in the business, serving as the Announcer for Divorce Court (FOXTV) and Judge Joe Brown (CBS). In animation, Rolonda just landed a role in the new animated LEGO’S series. She also stars with Tyler Perry in his first animated movie, Tyler Perry’s Medea’s Tough Love (Lionsgate) and voices the role of Professor Wiseman on Curious George (Universal) In video games, Rolonda is the voice of champion Illaoi in League of Legends.
In TV & movies, Rolonda enjoys her recurring role on Criminal Minds (CBS) in which she plays FBI Forensic Pathologist, Dr. Melissa Meryers. Ro also stars in American Bred, Sister Code, House Party5:Tonight’s the Night (WB), Broken Roads, House Arrest, and A Mother’s Love, which won the highly coveted Five-Star Dove Award. Ro’s other movies include Second Chance Christmas, Christmas Mail, Soul Ties, and 25 Hill. She stars as Hollywood legend Dorothy Dandridge in Defying the Stars and Josephine Baker in Return to Babylon.
Ro is also a standup comedian, having recently headlined at Caroline’s on Broadway in NYC, and also a featured comedian at The Comedy Store in LA, The Ice House, Flapper.s Ha! Ha!, the Comedy Union, The J Spot and more.
A committed philanthropist with an honorary doctorate from Winston-Salem State University for her humanitarian works, Rolonda has served on the board of directors for Literacy Volunteers of New York City, the board of advisors for the Rahway State Prison’s Lifers Group, and the board of advisors for the United Negro College Fund. The Spelman College Alumna Association awarded Ro for her community service and contributions to the entertainment industry. The McDonald’s Corporation honored Ro as “a Broadcast legend.” Facebook & Business magazine calls her “the queen of all media.”
Rolonda holds degrees from Spelman College, where she was graduated magna cum laude. She holds a master’s degree in the Science of Journalism from Columbia University in NYC, where she served as president of Sigma Delta Chi, the Society of Professional Journalists. There are official “Rolonda Days” in New York City and Newark, New Jersey. Ro lives in Los Angeles, California with her rescue dog, Langston (Hughes), and 23-lb Nebelung cat, (Tom) Wolfe.
Check out Rolonda’s new podcast at RolondaOnDemand.com on iTunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher. Guests include Carol Burnett, Jane Fonda, Judge Greg Mathis, Dr. Maya Angelou, Jack Canfield, and many more!