Award-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay is teaming up with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Issa Rae Productions, Netflix, HBO, OWN, Warner Bros., and other organizations to help underprivileged youth in Los Angeles realize their dreams of working in Hollywood.
Last week, DuVernay and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the launch of the Evolve Entertainment Fund (EEF), which aims to provide historically underserved communities with access and opportunities in the entertainment industry. The EEF has already secured 150 paid summer internships for students participating in the Hire L.A.’s Youth program at companies like DreamWorks Animation and Kobe Bryant’s Granity Studios. The long list of high-profile partner organizations will work to raise over $5 million to fund EEF’s programs for the next few years.
“As we radically reimagine Hollywood, it is critically important that young people are included in our vision,” said DuVernay on Feb. 19 at the unveiling of the EEF in L.A., according to Deadline. “What is one thing that people can do to instigate inclusion on film sets? Hire a woman,” added DuVernay, who serves as the EEF’s co-chair. “Films directed by women have 76% more inclusion across people of color and women.”
The new fund comes as an extension to Mayor Garcetti’s Hire L.A. Youth program, which provided 15,000 black and Latino youth with jobs in 2017. However, less than 20 of those jobs were in the entertainment industry. Hence, the Fund was created to fill that gap.
“Real change happens when we take tangible action, and that means giving young women and people of color opportunities in the industry early on so they have the chance to shape its future,” said DuVernay, the director of the upcoming film A Wrinkle in Time.
Along with internship opportunities, the EEF will offer students mentorships, workshops, and panels, as well as funding to cover production costs for independent projects. Participants will also get help to create projects from DuVernay’s distribution label ARRAY, Film Independent, and the National Association of Latino Independent Producers.
“When ‘Oscars So White’ and ‘Time’s Up’ put a spotlight on inequality in Hollywood, they captured the frustrations of people shut out of opportunity in what the world knows as L.A.’s signature industry,” said Garcetti at the press conference. “We created the Evolve Entertainment Fund to give people in underserved communities a new opportunity to chase their dreams in Hollywood—whether they want to be the next award-winning director or screenwriter, or are looking to secure a future in below-the-line jobs that are the bedrock of this city’s middle class.”