A distinguished line-up of guests interpret the Sydney Writers’ Festival theme of power in this gala Sydney Town Hall event, and examine its relationship to sex, money, politics, sports, identity, and the state of the world. Featuring Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Tanya Plibersek MP, New York Times bestselling author Tayari Jones, Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times critic Wesley Morris, founder of Tech LadyMafia and Call Your Girlfriend co-host Aminatou Sow, filmmaker and director Warwick Thornton, journalist Masha Gessen, LGBTQI activist Sally Rugg, and journalist and author Jamila Rizvi. Together, some of the Festival’s brightest stars make a firm case for literature, stories and public conversation helping resist the pull of a backward-lurching culture.

Aminatou Sow (International)

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Aminatou Sow is founder of Tech LadyMafia, a group that increases opportunities for women in Tech and the co-host of Call Your Girlfriend, a podcast that tackles the intricacies of pop culture and the latest in politics every single week. A digital strategist and writer, she was named one of Forbes 30 Under 30 in Tech. She is also a member of the Sundance Institute Director's Advisory Group and previously led Social Impact Marketing at Google. She lives in Brooklyn.

Wesley Morris (International)

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Wesley Morris is a critic-at-large at the New York Times and a staff writer at the New York Times Magazine, where he writes about popular culture and hosts the podcast Still Processing, with Jenna Wortham. For three years, he was a staff writer at Grantland, where he wrote about movies, television, and the role of style in professional sports, and co-hosted the podcast Do You Like Prince Movies, with Alex Pappademas. Before that, he spent 11 years as a film critic at the Boston Globe, where he won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Warwick Thornton (Australian)

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Warwick Thornton is an Australian film director, screenwriter and cinematographer. His debut feature film Samson and Delilah won the Caméra d'Or at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival and the award for Best Film at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards. He also won the Asia Pacific Screen Award for Best Film in 2017 for Sweet Country.

Masha Gessen (International)

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Masha Gessen is the author of nine books, most recently The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, which was awarded the National Book Award in the United States in 2017. Masha's other books include the international bestseller The Man Without a Face: the Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin. Masha was born in Russia, emigrated to the United States as a teenager, returned to Moscow as a correspondent, and emigrated to the United States again in 2013, after the Kremlin launched its anti-gay campaign. Masha now lives in New York City, works as a staff writer at The New Yorker, and teaches at Amherst College.

Sally Rugg (Australian)

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Sally Rugg is an LGBTIQ rights activist, writer and public speaker. She is a Campaign Director at political activist group GetUp!, where she lead the campaign for marriage equality for five years. Sally was recently awarded the 2017 SMAC of the Year at the FBi Awards, a Woman of The Year by Harpers Bazaar, one of Australia’s Most Influential LGBTIQ people by Cosmopolitan magazine and among the Top 15 Women Championing Human Rights by Amnesty International. She volunteers at LGBTIQ youth service Twenty10 and is currently writing her first book, which is about the marriage equality campaign.

Tayari Jones (International)

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Tayari Jones is the author of four novels, including Silver Sparrow, The Untelling, and Leaving Atlanta. An American Marriage is an Oprah Book Club selection and a New York Times bestseller. She is currently the Shearing Fellow at the Black Mountain Institute at University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Michael Chabon says, “Tayari Jones is blessed with vision to see through to the surprising and devastating truths at the heart of ordinary lives, strength to wrest those truths free, and a gift of language to lay it all out, compelling and clear.”

Tanya Plibersek MP (Australian)

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Tanya Plibersek is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Deputy Leader of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Education, Shadow Minister for Women, and the Federal Member for Sydney.

Jamila Rizvi (Australian)

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Jamila is a writer, presenter and commentator. She writes a weekly political column for News Limited and appears regularly on Channel 10, ABC and SBS. She was previously Editor-in-Chief of the Mamamia Women's Network and prior to entering the media, she worked for the Rudd and Gillard Governments. Jamila's first book is Not Just Lucky, a career manifesto for millennial women.