Come and participate in our diverse and inspirational panel as they share their continuing journeys to live a life of purpose by putting their hearts into their careers and relationships as they take time to satisfy their own personal needs and live up to their potential in all facets of life. Our moderator will be Paul Schofield of Music4Health and our panelists include innovator and pioneer in healthcare, Sajid Ahmed, former famous BMX rider and global brand manager of Haro Bikes, John Buultjens, TV series writer, executive producer and showrunner, Sera Gamble and multiplatinum American record producer, musician and songwriter, Matthew Hager.
Sponsor: Stifel Robert R. Heinze
At the age of 7, John and his younger sister were placed in a children’s home by police and social workers. John continued to experience sexual, physical and emotional abuse for the next three years, until an academic couple, Eldridge and Marianna Buultjens, fostered John and his younger sister.
Initially, it did not go well — Eldridge was a scientist from Sri Lanka, John a small racist thug from hell who refused to be seen in public with Eldridge, because of Eldridge’s skin color. Yet when he stole money from his new parents, they responded with unconditional love, tolerance and acceptance.
John chose to stay with the Buultjens permanently. He began to experience normal family life, so that his violence and racism abated. And then in 1982, there was another pivotal moment — his adoptive parents took him to see ET.
“I was transfixed,” he writes. “I came out of the cinema with BMX burned into my brain.” Little did he know that the main stunt rider in the film, Bob Haro, who would go on to found the global BMX freestyle brand, would one day become Buultjens’ close friend. Or that the director of the film, Steven Spielberg, would hear of Buultjens’ story and allow clips of ET to be used in the upcoming film The Ride. Back then; John was still a 10-year-old kid in Scotland.
In 2012, Buultjens moved to southern California to work for Haro Bikes. This job led to celebrity connections — and the movie, The Ride, which comes out this year. The rapper and actor Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges plays his adoptive father, with Buultjens himself playing his abusive biological father, who died in 1997, and with whom he never reconciled.
The film is not set in Scotland, but has been relocated to modern times in California, and by Buultjens’ own admission, his BMX skills have been somewhat exaggerated. Although not his incredible journey.
A letter at the end of the book written to his five-year-old self, while still John Craig, says “You have to keep believing. Things can change in the blink of an eye.”
She is one of only a few women currently show running more than one series. Previously, she served as writer and executive producer of the NBC series Aquarius, starring David Duchovny. She wrote and produced the cult CW series Supernatural for its first seven seasons, also running the show in seasons six and seven.
Gamble is a first-generation American, for which she credits her work ethic. Born in New York City, she spent her childhood in Cincinnati before moving to Redlands, California. At age seven she was given her first book of fairy tales, which made her promptly decide she wanted Hans Christian Andersen’s job. To that end, she attended the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.
Her Hollywood career began when she was a finalist on the second season of “Project Greenlight” in 2003. Her script “Cheeks” – a comedic homage to “Dog Day Afternoon” set in a strip club – got her agent. (In a surreal moment during the shooting of the show Matt Damon turned to her and said, “So I hear you guys signed with UTA.”)
Gamble’s family are Holocaust survivors; members of her family fled to Russia and Siberia during the Nazi occupation. Her parents were raised in post-war Poland. Both left while young students, during an anti-Semitic purge. They met in a refugee camp in Sweden, where her father volunteered to cover her mother’s dishwashing duties. It worked; they fell in love. Gamble’s father emigrated to New York City; her mother followed years later when they married and bore a proud first-generation American.
Gamble’s lineage includes scientists and artists. Both her parents are physicians; her father also spent decades as a medical professor and research scientist investigating diseases and disorders of the brain. Her mother obtained both a college and medical degree while Gamble was growing up; the kitchen table was usually cluttered with biopsy slides, plastic anatomy models and, for one memorable semester, an actual human skull. Family friends assumed that this early exposure would inspire Gamble to pursue a career in medicine; instead, she became a horror writer.
Her great-uncle Aleksander Ford was a well-known director and, together with her grandfather, a founding professor of the Polish National Film School in Lodz who taught several of Poland’s best-known filmmakers. Her grandmother was a translator of plays and fiction.
Gamble also writes essays, poetry and fiction. Two of her stories have appeared in the Best American Erotica series, and other work has appeared in journals such as Washington Square and Nerve. She lives in Los Angeles, and, most importantly she is a dog person.
His credits include Duran Duran, Mandy Moore, Justin Timberlake, jazz superstar Mindi Abair, Scott Weiland and Timbaland, just to name a few. In 2012 Hager started the innovative indie alternative band Halo Circus with ex American Idol star Allison Iraheta to critical acclaim. Rolling Stone called them “critically underrated” and under Hager’s management, they were the very first band in history to crowdfund an entire US tour and were featured in Forbes Magazine.
Hager expanded his company 76 Steps Music to the full service entertainment company 76 Steps Entertainment which has a tv show in development with a major studio, manages actors and provides original music for television, film and video games. Hager also serves on the board of Music4Health.