Don’t Believe Me, Just Watch

These influential creatives and executives are making waves in the entertainment industry

From the big screen to the smallest, the entertainment landscape has been disrupted. A new crop of young, black, and bold creatives and executives are leading the charge to create diverse and dynamic content for global audiences.

And it’s working. Director Ryan Coogler’s second feature film, Creed, opened with a successful domestic box-office weekend of $29,632,823. Cable networks are green-lighting projects created, produced, and directed by young black women, such as Issa Rae’s new show Insecure. Web distribution is bursting, with platforms such as Amazon and Netflix garnering industry recognition for their own original content, as well as praise from the consumers. As a result of this shift, the opportunities for fresh talent, both in front of and behind the camera, are slowly increasing.

Entertainment is big business. The U.S./Canada box office was $10.4 billion in 2014, according to the Motion Picture Association of America, while electronic home video revenue is set to rise from $15.28 billion in 2014 to $30.29 billion in 2019, according to PriceWaterhouse Coopers. But who’s getting a piece of that pie? According to the 2015 Hollywood Diversity Report: Flipping the Script from the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies, there have been small to modest improvements in minority participation. Minorities were credited as creator in 5.9% of the broadcast scripted shows for the 2012–13 season, up from 4.2% in the 2011–12 season. Minorities wrote 11.8% of the 170 films examined in 2013, up from 7.8% in 2012, and directed 17.8% of the 174 films examined in 2013, up from 12.2% in 2011. By contrast, in the executive suites, 94% of CEOs/chairs of film studios were white and 100% were male.

Still, these movers and shakers continue to navigate the industry with a tenacity that cannot be denied. Their creativity, commitment to their craft, and hard work will prove to all watching that they’ve got next.

Melina MaTsoukas
Director, music videos and television
Melina MatsoukasIf you caught the blazing Run trailer by Jay-Z and Beyoncé or danced the night away to Rihanna’s “We Found Love” video (for which she was the first female director to win a VMA and earned a Grammy for Best Long Form Video), you’ve seen Matsoukas’s work. A graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and the American Film Institute, the 34-year-old New York City native has cultivated a following as she continues to create provocative content.

Widely known for her high-concept music videos and films, Matsoukas’s roster of collaborators is made up of some of the most influential musical artists today, including Solange, Lady Gaga, Lil Wayne, Pharrell, and Snoop Dogg. In 2011, she stepped outside of directing videos when she served as the creative director for Beyoncé’s album 4, where she led all creative elements of the project, from tour aesthetics to editorials, advertising, and a perfume launch.

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