During the BET Awards tonight, Netflix debuted a new brand spot featuring 47 black Netflix creators and talent representing the streaming company’s Strong Black Lead initiative.
The ad was conceived and created months ago and had already been scheduled to air during the BET Awards when on Friday Netflix’s long-time communications chief Jonathan Friedland was ousted for using the N-word on two separate occasions.
In light of the controversy, I hear Netflix brass considered not proceeding with the spot this weekend but ultimately opted against it.
The spot, inspired by the legendary 1958 photo A Great Day in Harlem, which featured prominent jazz musicians of the time, was directed Lacey Duke, with Kwaku Alston taking a photo.
“It was a pretty magical couple of hours,” Duke said. “All these amazingly talented, beautiful individuals in one space being supportive and just looking stunning together, all here to pull off this one take wonder! Alfre Woodard even lead everyone in an epic rendition of ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ before we started shooting. It was beautiful, and in a flash it was over. It was probably the most overwhelming two hours of my career. I was just so happy to be a part of history.”
Launched earlier this year, Netflix’s Strong Black Lead effort — spanning social media, live events and more — is focused on talking authentically with the Black audience.
“We’re writing while black, nuanced and complex, resilient and strong,” the spot, narrated by Caleb McLaughlin, says. “This is not a moment. This is a movement.” It features Woodard, Ava DuVernay, Caleb McLaughlin, Derek Luke, Laverne Cox, Lena Waithe, Mike Colter, Rev Run, and Spike Lee, among others.
Here is the ad, whose debut also comes a week or so after the separate departures of Netflix’s only two black TV development executives, Tara Duncan and Layne Eskridge: