LOS ANGELES – Celebrities from Kevin Pollak to will.i.am have driven audiences for their newer projects by actively engaging with social media to boost ratings and viewership, said new media expert Amber J. Lawson who is the chairman of the interactive media peer group membership committee at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

"The gateholders are no longer there. You can distribute your content however you want and the monetization is completely open," she said. In turn, celebrities can parlay their Twitter and Facebook followings into more awareness, as well as movie roles and TV roles, Lawson suggested.

Beyond celebrities, networks and programmers can all benefit from tapping into additional audiences via social and new media platforms, using a range of storytelling tools from augmented reality to Twitter streams to character experiences, she added.

We spoke with Lawson at the Paley Media Center in Beverly Hills where she moderated a panel.

Daisy Whitney