Equity advocate and #OscarsSoWhite founder April Reign has teamed with media company Overture Global to launch Ensemble, a digital content studio that advances opportunities around content and development in front of and behind the camera for people of color.
Ensemble will develop sustainable programming while leveraging distribution platforms to create large audiences. The newly launched company will provide services in development, production, promotion, distribution, sales, marketing, and enterprise.
In an era where content consumption is at a high, narratives by and for people of color and underrepresented voices have historically been placed in the margins and considered “niche.” Streaming platforms have increased the demand for short-form sponsored content and ensemble looks to provide opportunities for content providers, artists and brands.
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“I’m excited to be partnering with Overture,” said Reign. “They have a reputation for creating professional content for a switched-on audience. We are in a unique period wherein we’re able to bring together brands and creators to tell stories, such as interviews, web series and documentaries, that reflect a wide range of American and global human experiences.”
“We know, for example, the mobile usage rate by young African Americans is extremely high and Ensemble intends to create a platform for showcasing mindful and considerate content developed by and for African Americans,” Donnovan Andrews, CEO of Overture adds. “Until now, Overture has focused on telling societal-impact stories, such as innovative efforts to solve the global water shortage and supporting women in international STEAM (science, tech, engineering, art and mathematics) fields. Ensemble is an organic extension of this work, focused on thought-provoking content for influential and connected communities. These will be the stories that need to be told, and perspectives that need to be delivered.”
Andrews said that Ensemble will not be exclusively for the Black audience. “Our strategy is heavily based on creating, and supporting inclusive content production and delivery opportunities for diverse teams… in a way that hasn’t been done before,” he said. “Just think about the stories from refugees, immigrants and cultural influencers that’ve been lost because they’ve been historically excluded from this process.”
According to Nielsen statistics, there is high consumption of digital content by the Black community — but programming does not match that. Reign spotlighted this disparity with the #OscarsSoWhite campaign in 2015. This started a slow, roller coaster of a journey for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences when it comes to diversity and inclusion. Earlier this year, the Oscars ceremony was blasted for its wild lack of nominees that were women and/or people of color, but recently, AMPAS moved the needle with its newly elected candidates to its Board of Governors which includes Ava DuVernay. The number of female board members has increased from 25 to 26 and people of color from 11 to 12, including the three Governors-at-Large.
In addition, AMPAS unveiled its next phase with its ongoing efforts toward equity and inclusion, Academy Aperture 2025. AMPAS is working with the Producers Guild of America to create a task force to implement and develop new representation and inclusion standards for Oscars eligibility by July 31 of this year. The new initiatives also include a cap on term limits for Academy governors, a series of panels that will include conversations about race and ethnicity including other pertinent topics, and unconscious bias training that will be mandatory for all areas of AMPAS on an annual basis as well as being offered to all 9000-plus members.
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