Esteban Gast is an entertainer, educator, and entrepreneur.
He is Colombian, was raised in Puerto Rico and Illinois and currently lives in LA. He was a touring comedian at the age of 23, taught creativity and design thinking at the college level, co-authored a book on creativity while living in Central Illinois, and worked as president of a sustainability-focused institutein Panama. He is co-founder of Scriptd, a script database and story platform that elevates underrepresented creators. Most recently, he was the star of the TV show Jungletown, airing on VICELAND. He’s been profiled in WBEZ, Huffington Post, Hollywood Reporter, Brooklyn Magazine and others.
With his background in comedy and his years in the classroom, Esteban is a gifted communicator who loves breaking down complex issues. He has spoken at high schools, colleges, corporations, and conferences all over the world about the power of entertainment, the importance of diverse storytelling, and taking a data-driven approach to inclusion.
Story Matters: How Stories Shape Our World On and Off The Screen
As a Colombian-American kid Esteban moved to Chicago in elementary school and all of a sudden didn’t see too many people that looked like him on screen. Worse, the ones he saw represented an incomplete part of his culture - to a point that Esteban was ashamed to have the name Esteban. Now as a television personality, comedian, producer, and founder of Scriptd, a Hollywood Tech startup, Esteban is focused on telling stories (and helping others tell stories) that create mirrors for those in society who don’t see themselves.
In this talk, he dives into his personal journey and offers a more expansive approach to storytelling that goes beyond writers in LA, presenting a framework and questions to everyone (not just creators) about the stories we believe about ourselves and the work that we do. If stories are how we shape the world around us, how can we be more intentional about finding and telling better stories in our everyday life. In a world where literally everyone has a platform and audience, how can we use that responsibility to heal the world?
Program Run Time: 45 min + 15 min Q&A
Diversity Matters: New Thinking For a More Inclusive World
Very quickly after his move to LA, Esteban realized Hollywood has a real diversity problem, for example 87% of represented writers (that’s writers for all film/TV) are white men and though Latinx/Hispanics buy 25% of movie tickets, there are only 6% Latinx/Hispanic speaking roles in the top 250 movies last year. He went about making change in the way he saw others make changes; he starred in a TV show that featured Latin Americans positively, worked with the cast from Jane The Virgin, and created and worked on other value-aligned shows.
However, he started viewing diversity and inclusion as more of a systemic issue that can’t be solved by individual high achievers. He co-founded the company, Scriptd, that takes a data-driven tech-first approach to diversity, building tools and finding more comprehensive data to tell stories that reflect the world we live in. 90% of scripts optioned from Scriptd have been written by women and people of color. He believes to build a more inclusive future, we have to move beyond emotional and moral arguments and simply look at data and the world around us.
In this optimistic talk, he details his journey and gives tangible insights in how to think about diversity and inclusion and rethink how anyone can approach emotionally charged issues they care about.
Program Run Time: 45 min + 15 min Q&A
Estaban did an excellent job tailoring his performance to his audience. He asked questions about campus before he went on stage in order to tie that info into his comedy set. He made a lot of references about Texas State, and he did amazing at building a connection with the students.
Rigo Gutierrez, Coordinator for Campus Activities, Texas State University
Bestselling Author of Permanent Midnight and I, Fatty