The history of labor unions and social change in America are obviously deeply entwined. Now a portion of that alliance is marching to increasing inclusion and opportunity in Hollywood with studios, streamers and Tyler Perry.
The Editors Guild, IATSE Local 700 has teamed up with SunWise Media co-founder Ri-Karlo Handy and the LA Urban League to provide a new pipeline to Tinseltown training and below-the-jobs for people of color. Working with the Urban League’s existing Backstage Careers Program, the Editors Guild has signed on specifically to foster exposure and hands-on skills to young people from communities that are often excluded from the entertainment industry.
“As a union, we remain committed to enhancing our outreach to programs and schools that serve all communities, especially those who might not otherwise have opportunities to be exposed to the array of jobs with our jurisdiction so they can envision a career path they may not have known existed or believed was possible,” says Editors Guild chief Cathy Repola today.
“Inequity in BTL careers requires a multi-faceted solution involving production companies, studios, unions, and training providers,” adds Brian Williams, LA Urban League chief of operations. “We’re finally bringing all of these elements together to move the needle, and to do it at scale.”
As a part of that movement, Handy is heightening the feedback he has had from the industry following the June 16 online shout-out he made for Black union editors and the resulting awareness, both positive and negative.
“The response has been awesome, it’s very exciting to have these conversations,” Handy tells Deadline. “Hiring managers from Viacom, Tyler Perry Studios, Netflix, NBCUniversal, CBS, and so many more have reached out to me directly, or have downloaded the Black Editors list,” he adds. Paramount, eOne and Fremantle have all approached Handy with potential job opportunities.
Sadly, Handy’s Facebook post also saw a toxic stew of racist and knee-jerk reactions in the first few hours after it went up. Fortunately, those reactions that actually ended up having the script flipped on them in spotlighting the harsh realities of discrimination in the entertainment industry, both individually and corporately.
“Since then I have had so many people of color in the entertainment industry reach out expressing their support for the post, and sharing their stories of discrimination, or about being the only (person of color) in the room,” Handy detailed in a guest column he penned for Deadline on June 22 after the initial firestorm of his Facebook post.
Consequently, Handy compiled a list of approximately 300 Black editors (download the list here) for use and hiring by companies. A networking list that also has the benefit of blunting the common excuse that many companies and projects make that they can’t find anyone outside the usual suspects.
Among the reactions that Handy additionally had to his much-shared post of last month was the creation of a relationship with both the Urban League and the Editors Guild for “solutions,” to quote Handy’s column, that has developed into today’s announcement – and that is step in the right direction.
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Two weeks ago I made a simple request for Black Editors to contact me, today I have a list of over 300 Editors and Assistant Editors and its growing daily. As a result we have begun working with Los Angeles Urban League to be a bridge from existing programs to real jobs not only for the professionals already in the business but for those seeking their first opportunities. Shout to the Facebook groups… Hue You Know… for BIPOC in Media Ujima Entertainment Coalition I NEED AN EDITOR! Minority Editors for Broadcast & Film and all the groups that have been fostering this conversation for years! The world seems to be listening now. Shout out to @toshwgriggs and @darrendpr for all your support with the media frenzy! The best PR duo in town! Let's seize the moment. The future depends on what we do today!
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