Issa Rae’s Color Creative, Unleashing Giants Studios Among Pop Culture Collaborative’s 2018 Grant Recipients


EXCLUSIVE: Pop Culture Collaborative, a fund to support creatives working at the intersection of entertainment and social change, has named its 2018 grantees, which include Insecure star and creator Issa Rae and Deniese Davis of Color Creative TV, Emil Pinnock and Chiké Okonkwo (The Birth Of A Nation, Being Mary Jane) of Unleashing Giants Studios, and Storyline Partners, a new network of television writers rooms’ strategists.

Established in 2016, Pop Culture Collaborative is a 5-year, $25 million fund created to help artists, activists, and organizations leverage the power of pop culture to drive authentic narratives on people of color, immigrants, refugees and Muslims.

Past recipients include Harness, co-founded by artist-activists America Ferrera, Wilmer Valderrama and Ryan Piers Williams, Define American, Color of Change, author of the new report “Race in the Writers Room,” and Caring Across Generations, led by Ai-jen Poo, the activist who joined Meryl Streep at the 2018 Golden Globes blackout movement on behalf 0f domestic workers.

The company has also named Zahra Noorbakhsh, Senior Fellow on Comedy for Change, as this year’s first of four senior fellows.

“While social justice movements swell in America’s streets—and more recently, on Hollywood’s red carpets—it’s more important than ever to understand how artists and activists can work together to create stories for audiences that make core values of justice, equity and pluralism the norm in our society,” said PCC’s executive director Bridgit Antoinette Evans. “It becomes clearer every day that the only way wholistic change—personal, cultural and political—will be achieved in America is with the vision and creativity of all people, particularly women of color. Our grantees are leading the way towards this new day, and we are proud to partner with them to uplift their work and expand their impact.”

See the full list and descriptions of these grantee projects below.

Color Creative: Co-founded by actor/writer/producer Issa Rae and producer Deniese Davis, Color Creative is working raise awareness for emerging women and minority writers, and provide a springboard for their careers by producing and selling their work to digital, network and cable platforms. Over the next two years, Rae and Davis will build on Color Creative’s program strategy to expand their pipeline initiatives and formalize the company as an industry-leading pipeline solution for content creators of color.

Unleashing Giants Studios: As rising leaders within the field of independent television production, the Unleashing Giants Studios team of Chiké Okonkwo, Ian Robertson and creator Emil Pinnock are applying the Collaborative’s support to map the full season for the award winning pilot Up North, about the modern day American prison system.  They will also investigate the creation of an immersive audience experience to accompany the show.

Logline:  Inside the system, it’s just as hard getting out as going in. Mothers and daughters, sons and fathers, predators and prey fight to survive on the streets of Harlem and in the prisons of New York.

BoomGen Studios: Co-founded by writer/producers Mayhad Tousi and Reza Aslan, BoomGen Studios is a premier entertainment brand and incubator for stories by and about the peoples and cultures of the Middle East, Central/South Asia, and North Africa aimed at the global entertainment markets. BoomGen will engage in the research and design of a “Pop Culture Content Incubator,” an accelerator for the next generation of content creators of color, immigrants, and Muslims in Hollywood to both have the power to create pop culture storytelling that can transform society and the skills for career longevity within the entertainment industry.

Propper Daley: Propper Daley is a social impact agency that works with influencers, brands and causes, providing both strategic and creative solutions to move the needle on the issues they care in order to create tangible social change. Propper Daley is designing “A​ ​Day​ ​of​ ​Unreasonable​ ​Conversation” a new annual convening for established and emerging television showrunners and writers designed to inform how Hollywood can reimagine how narratives represent communities and social issues.

Secret Identities Universe: Using a tested technique that combines improv and guided storytelling, graphic novelist and pop culture critic Jeff Yang and the Secret Identities team will engage with immigrant and people of color communities across America to collaboratively imagine and bring to life original superheroes inspired by their personal experiences, backgrounds and cultural heritage,. Working with writer and artists, they will transform these raw story elements into a fully articulated superhero universe; and shape this content into market-ready treatments and script outlines for TV/film pitching.

Jolt TX is a Texas based non-profit organization that increases the civic participation of Latinos to build a strong democracy and a state where everyone’s voice is heard. In this time of unprecedented division, Jolt TX is using audience research to create a counter-narrative that uplifts the Texans of color and shifts the debate in favor of impacted communities.

Moore + Associates, a culture change strategy agency, in partnership with Spotify, MTV and Revolutions Per Minutes, with the help of the Collaborative, Moore + Associates will produce Music for Change, a convening and set of resources designed to build the field of artist-activists and cultural strategists working with musicians.

Pass the Mic Media: Founded by OBIE Award-winning theater artist Maha Chehlaoui, Pass the Mic Media aims to dramatically change the landscape of pop culture, to render it radically inclusive and ensure that those who are traditionally underrepresented have a lasting presence in pop culture. Pass the Mic will engage in a multi-pronged research project, including landscaping and analyzing traditional and non-traditional pipelines into writers rooms; and investigating the development of a database for producers, casting agents and showrunners to identify talented artists writers, actors and artists of color from traditionally underrepresented communities.

People’s Action: People’s Action is one of the largest multiracial, people’s organizations in the country representing a million grassroots leaders in communities and online. People’s Action is working to advance an inclusive social vision that bridges urban and rural communities. In partnership with a set of market research experts, People’s Action will design and conduct an audience research initiative that will engage thousands of people in hard-hit rural and small town communities across six states.

The Opportunity Agenda: The Opportunity Agenda is an innovative social justice agency dedicated to driving lasting policy and culture change through a combination of communication expertise and creative engagement. In partnership with the the Collaborative, Opportunity Agenda is coordinating day-long retreat for a set of partners across the entertainment, social justice and philanthropy fields to build relationships and share resources.

Storyline Partners is a new network of writers rooms’ strategists, with help of the collaborative they will test new ways to work together in order to increase the visibility of people of color, Muslims, immigrants and refugees in pop culture through fostering dynamic and authentic stories that represent the world we live in.

The League is a new experimental narrative change agency. The League will explore explore strategies that help social change movements and entertainment leaders leverage peak moments in pop culture.


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