Michael B. Jordan moves ahead, to pave the way for more diversity in Hollywood’s often so white storytelling model. #ChangeHollywood.
On the heels of social justice protests and movement that has swept the country, there’s been a call for action across the industry for more inclusion in Hollywood and an investment in diverse stories and storytellers, along with better representation in the executive and agency ranks. Actors, creators and storytellers have all spoken out about their hopes for real change in Hollywood. But questions remain about how to take those next steps.
Actor/producer Michael B. Jordan and Color Of Change have launched the #ChangeHollywood initiative, which begins with a roadmap for change that lays out tangible ways to invest in anti-racist content and authentic Black stories, invest in Black talent and reinvest police funds to support Black communities. Throughout the project, companies, executive leadership, staff and talent will be provided with recommendations as well as forthcoming resources to support follow-through, including directories, templates, audit analysis, taskforce convenings, writer’s rooms and consulting sessions.
“This roadmap is just the beginning of the journey to racial justice. We are all accomplices in the fight to transform Hollywood, and we invite content creators and industry leaders to join us in working together to #ChangeHollywood,” says Jordan, CEO of Outlier Society. “We look forward to including a variety of voices in doing what we do best: telling authentic stories, bringing people together, partnering with influential artists, and changing the rules of the game.”
In 2018, Jordan announced that his production company Outlier Society would be adopting the use of an inclusion rider for all of its projects, and soon after Jordan and Outlier worked with WarnerMedia to establish a new company-wide policy to increase diversity and inclusivity. The film Just Mercy was the first produced under that new initiative.
The aim of this new program is to provide concrete steps that can be taken to create change. Jordan’s production company, Outlier Society, and Color of Change have already begun conversations with companies like WME and Endeavor Content and organizations like BLD PWR about commitments to this initiative, with more details to come.
“The legacy of racism in Hollywood is long and unforgivable: excluding Black talent, silencing Black voices, derailing Black careers, and using the economic power of the industry to prop up police who target and enact violence on Black communities,” said Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change, the nation’s largest online racial justice organization. “We know from our advocacy that the industry won’t change on it’s own, so we’re building off our current work to hold Hollywood accountable to provide a roadmap to enacting racial justice. From the writers rooms to the streets, we are energized and ready to help Hollywood follow through on their statements that Black lives matter.”
More resources for the new initiative, including a directory of resources (anti-racist trainers, racial justice auditors and consultants), a government relations task force, templates for written materials (riders and inclusion contract additions) and a hiring directory can be found at ChangeHollywood.org.
The Roadmap is laid out below:
Everyone has a role to play in the #ChangeHollywood Roadmap. Even if you do not have the power to adopt or implement these recommendations in full—or at all—there are still steps you can take toward getting your organization to do so. Do what you can. Keep moving forward.
If you are an individual producer at a studio or network, or a staff member at an agency or other industry organization, you probably cannot change company policy all on your own. But you can use the Roadmap Resources above to make different decisions—for instance, hiring different consultants or different security staffing. You can also use the recommendations below to organize other staff and start conversations in your organization that encourage management to engage with the Roadmap, and ultimately adopt its recommendations.
If you are individual talent or an influencer, you can negotiate certain Roadmap recommendations into your contract (where possible), and you can use your voice and influence to promote the Roadmap recommendations and resources.
If you are an executive, showrunner or a decision maker in an organization, you can adopt these recommendations and invest in them. You can also participate in conversations and task forces that are emerging across the industry to help change practices at the enterprise level.
1. DIVEST FROM THE POLICE
Hollywood must not use its economic power to prop up local police departments and other authorities who threaten and exploit Black lives, or promote anti-Black practices. Instead, where you have or can build the power to do so, advocate for alternatives and for reinvestment in Black communities.
1a. Hire independent security firms, instead of using police departments, for security at events and on sets. Stop all contributions to police unions.
1b. Do not rely on police or any other authorities who promote content that normalizes injustice to shape or vet content about the criminal justice system.
1c. Insist that local governments manage permitting, traffic coordination and other production-related activities through civilian agencies, not police departments.
1d. Where you can use your voice, keep up the pressure on local governments to reduce spending on police and prisons, to adopt transformative changes in the criminal justice system, and to shift investments to Black communities.
2. INVEST IN ANTI-RACIST CONTENT & AUTHENTIC BLACK STORIES
Hollywood must use its cultural power to elevate nuanced portrayals of Black lives, and represent the reality of the criminal justice system.
2a. Advocate for hiring cultural consultants, issue experts and others who can help ensure authentic portrayals of Black people and issues affecting Black people, and who can help avoid harmful and misleading representations related to crime, law and race.
2b. Review and integrate recommendations related to portrayals of the criminal justice system from the Normalizing Injustice report released by Color Of Change.
2c. Advocate for funding independent, comprehensive Racial Justice Content Audits that provide actionable recommendations for improving storytelling and marketing practices, and for preventing bias, stereotype and harm.
2d. Advocate for creating a dedicated budget in your organization for producing and marketing content representing a wide range of authentic Black stories.
2e. Ensure there are multiple senior level Black executives with decision-making authority and marketing supervision in your organization.
3. INVEST IN BLACK TALENT & CAREERS
Hollywood must use its economic power to create pathways for all Black talent to rise in the industry, to ensure a fair and inclusive work environment, and to support Black businesses and talent that are typically excluded from the industry.
3a. Adopt the Inclusion Rider for all productions, and wherever you have influence, promote the adoption of the inclusion rider.
3b. Fund anti-racist trainings for your organization, and fund independent Racial Justice Workplace & Organizational Audits of your organization. Commit to adopting specific recommendations from trainings and audits (such as pay equity and other anti-racist workplace policies and practices), and promote them across the industry in general.
3c. Disclose information about staff diversity in your organization, as well as reporting on equity and anti-racist workplace measures in your organization. Advocate for disclosure across all the organizations with which you are associated or have influence.
3d. Establish proactive recruitment, support, retention and training measures for Black people at all levels of your organization, including LGBTQIA+ Black people. Advocate for establishing those measures wherever you have influence.
3e. Increase the number of Black people in leadership in your organization: board members, executives and senior leaders. True diversity must include increasing the number of people with greenlighting, budgeting and hiring authority, as well as authority throughout the production or management process. Advocate for hiring and promoting Black people wherever you have influence — that includes hiring Black talent for projects beyond those specifically focused on Black stories or issues.
3f. Increase the number of Black vendors and contractors that your organization uses for industry-related services and projects, especially for industry sectors that have traditionally excluded Black people.
4. INVEST IN BLACK COMMUNITIES
Hollywood should use its economic power to support Black communities in all the cities in which it operates, and to support local Black businesses.
4a. Contract with Black-owned and Black-led businesses, and encourage your organization and others to maintain a roster of local Black businesses.
4b. Partner with brands that are in alignment with anti-racist social justice values, and invested in supporting Black communities.
4c. Commit to supporting programs and community initiatives that elevate, support and empower Black communities.
*This article first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter. Click the link to view original, and is written by Rebecca Ford.