Thursday, August 21, 2014 is the official kick-off of The Merge Summit with their Opening Night Celebration presented by Walgreen's and hosted by E! News' Terrence J. Taking place at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel, this years event will include special performances by Jonathan Butler and Mali Music. Created to empower and inspire individuals with a foundation in faith to pursue careers in entertainment, The Merge Summit was founded by Holly Carter best known for her television career on shows such as The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, In Living Color and Martin. In her own words Carter's mission is to remain "focused on giving other believers who want an access into Hollywood a platform to really provide a voice for a group of talented people that didn't have the access."
Even with her stellar career in television and film ranging from television casting, talent manager to producer Carter founded The Merge Summit with humble beginnings, she stated "it was a vision that I got 7 yrs ago and sat on it for a couple of years because I felt it was a little out of my reach." However her unyielding faith allowed her to collaborate with other Hollywood powerhouses to get the job done. "Robi Reed and Ronnie Pitre kinda stood by me and we pulled it off with a team of believers and here we are 6 years later," Carter gratefully explains during a phone interview from her office. She expressed how blessed she feels that God has provided her with this life work, "this is my calling... This is what the Lord called me to do. This is what I heard Him say! This is what I find passion in, this is something I would do for free." Her words of faith and discernment resonates the essence and purpose of The Merge Summit, "over the course of the years we've gotten more supporters, more sponsors and people continuing to hear about it, believe in it and want to support it." She revealed "the real challenge was being able to fund the vision then slowly but surely it came into play." As always with challenges come triumph and Carter reflected on the shift when more sponsors got on board to fund the event, "...Once they saw what it represented, saw that it helped others they became believers themselves and wanted to get involved."
In the 6th year The Merge Summit continues to grow to fit the demand, Carter describes how "classes have changed, we are offering more interactive opportunities amongst writers through our writer's bootcamp. We're doing an actor's bootcamp with Harry Lennix from The Black List & Superman with an one-on-one intensive training session. We're really excited about the new classes and the talent that will be a part of this years event." With nearly 100 of the industry’s top entertainers and executives leading over 20 interactive panel discussions, workshops and Master Class sessions, The Merge Summit attendees will be able to interface and learn from the industry’s best. In previous years Carter reminisces on past connections, "we've had movies produced, we've had television show opportunities arise, we've even had books published. We've had networking opportunities and the stories go on and on of the testimonies of The Merge and how it's changed the lives and opened eyes for people to realize their dream."
Thursday's opening night celebration will set the tone for the weekend of events. Along with special performances, there will be a red carpet of special invited guests that include Anthony Anderson (ABC’s “Black-ish”), Laurence Fishburne (ABC’s “Black-ish”), Tracee Ellis Ross (ABC’s “Black-ish”), Meagan Good (“Think Like A Man Too”), DeVon Franklin (SVP of Production, Columbia Pictures), Boris Kodjoe (BET’s “Real Husbands of Hollywood”), and Common (Rapper/Actor) to name a few. The rest of the weekend will include panels, workshops and master classes on Friday, August 22nd and Saturday, August 23rd.
For more information and to see the full schedule, visit http://www.themergesummit.com/tms/