ViacomCBS Entertainment & Youth Group today unveiled its First Time Directors program with a slew of high-profile executive producer deals. The initiative aims to provide opportunities for the next generation of female and BIPOC filmmakers to find the stars of tomorrow in front of and behind the camera
Angela Bassett, Idris Elba, Salma Hayek, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, John Leguizamo, Eva Longoria and Courtney B. Vance are set to executive produce through their respective production companies. They will work closely with Nina L. Diaz, E&Y’s President of Content and Chief Creative Officer, and her team to identify the directors, match them with inclusive projects and mentor them through the filmmaking process to help bring their stories to a global audience.
The deal calls for 50 films across Paramount Network, MTV, Comedy Central and the E&Y portfolio for first time BIPOC filmmakers and female directors to tell diverse stories through the lens of diverse storytellers.
“We are thrilled to partner with these icons of entertainment to cultivate first-time BIPOC and first-time women directors,” Diaz said. “Together, we will give rise to multi-cultural narratives and voices that resonate with audiences around the world.”
These projects fall under ViacomCBS E&Y Group’s recently launched original movies and limited series division, led by Meghan Hooper White, EVP and Head of Original Movies and Limited Series.
Here are quotes from several of the EPs involved:
Bassett and Vance, Bassett Vance Productions:
“We are thrilled to embark upon this very important journey with ViacomCBS in telling stories that are representative of communities of people who are often missing from the majority landscape of film and television. It means opening doors for new and fresh voices, both in front of and behind the camera, something that has always been a top priority for us. We look forward to being a part of a growing coalition of directors, producers, actors and writers who will be the change agents at the forefront of a new, multicultural, and more dynamic workforce in this industry.”
Elba, Green Door Pictures:
“I’m incredibly proud to join a group of such extraordinary talent and welcome this commitment from ViacomCBS to introduce opportunity into their business model. When I set up Green Door one of my core philosophies was to promote and encourage a diversity of ideas from new voices who might otherwise be shut out of the industry establishment. I believe that this is a bold step forward and look forward to working with a new cohort of original storytellers across the ViacomCBS E&Y Group.”
Hayek, Ventanarosa Productions:
“Jose Tamez and I started Ventanarosa 23 years ago in an effort to create a space where the stories and voices that had been ignored could find a home. It is uplifting that after more than two decades of relentless battles, the entertainment industry is finally entering a new era. Thank you, ViacomCBS, for taking action towards a promising future where everyone gets an opportunity, and every culture gets to tell their stories. We are extremely grateful that you included Ventanarosa Productions in your vision.”
Chopra Jonas, Purple Pebble Pictures:
“When I founded Purple Pebble Pictures our mission was clear, to create opportunities where there were few, and to tell global stories for global audiences irrespective of location and language. I am proud to say that we have remained true to that mission since the very first day, always prioritizing content over anything else. Not just the U.S., but the world, is a melting pot of different races, ethnicities, and religions, and the entertainment we consume should reflect the world we actually live in. I am proud to join ViacomCBS Entertainment & Youth Group on this initiative to not only tell diverse stories, but to do so from diverse storytellers.”
“I am so honored and thrilled to partner up with ViacomCBS E&Y to help diversify the industry and help stop the exclusion of Latinx in Hollywood! We Latinx are 17.5% of the U.S. population and 25% of the U.S. box office, but we’re often fewer than 4% of the faces in front of and behind the camera. We are also painfully absent in the decision makers’ arena with less than 1% of executives. So in brief, our stories are not being told by streamers, networks, or studios. I believe that my collaboration with ViacomCBS E&Y will assure more Latinx talent, writers, directors, directors of photography, and crew will get their opportunities to create and exercise their gifts when they would otherwise be unseen and ignored!”
Longoria, UnbelieEVAble Entertainment.
“The UnbeliEVAble team and I are thrilled to partner with ViacomCBS, specifically their Entertainment & Youth Group, to create and develop diverse and impactful films. We’ve been producing content focused on underrepresented communities for a decade and couldn’t be more excited to join this inaugural group of BIPOC and women directors and production companies to introduce a new generation of viewers to stories worth amplifying.”
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