Creators of color, your time in Hollywood is now

The push for more diversity in Hollywood is both opening doors for creators of color and raising the visibility of those who were already in the room.

Analysis by Lisa Respers France, CNN

The push for more diversity in Hollywood is both opening doors for creators of color and raising the visibility of those who were already in the room.

The overwhelming whiteness of Hollywood is not a new issue.
For years, discussion about the need for more diversity, both in front of and behind the camera, has been ongoing within the industry, sparking movements like #OscarsSoWhite and inclusion riders in which stars require increased diversity on sets as part of their contracts.
But as the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police led to protests and a global conversation about race, racism and privilege, there appears to be some serious self-reflectionhappening in Tinseltown.
Civil rights-based projects, horror films and sci-fi are just a few of the genres in which there is a rush to put forth fresh narratives by and about people of color.
Ava DuVernay: The famed director told the New York Times last month that the phone has been ringing off the hook for “me and every other Black person that’s ever picked up a camera.”
She’s been working with Netflix, which over the last two years has amplified Black content and Black creators through its Strong Black Lead division.
DuVernay has worked with the streaming giant with her documentary on mass incarceration, “13th,” and her limited series on the Central Park Five, “When They See Us.” Next up is her scripted series on the early life of former National Football League quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Blumhouse Television: Amazon Prime Video has announced “Welcome to the Blumhouse,” a partnership between Amazon Studios and Jason Blum’s TV studio, which specializes in horror films. Two of those films include “The Lie,” written and directed by Canadian-born Indian American Veena Sud, and “Black Box,” directed by Houston-born Ghanaian Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour Jr.
With a script by Osei-Kuffour Jr. and Stephen Herman, “Black Box” stars Mamoudou Athie, Phylicia Rashad, Amanda Christine and Tosin Morohunfola. The project’s executive producers include “Insecure” star Jay Ellis.
Ellis is not the only television actor of color getting in on the Blumhouse deal.
“Quantico” star Priyanka Chopra Jonas is one of the executive producers of “Evil Eye,” starring Sarita Choudhury and Sunita Mani.
Horror is actually a genre perfectly aligned with diverse characters and story lines.
Jordan Peele: I interviewed the quintuple threat in 2017 about his then newly minted writing and directorial debut, “Get Out.”
We discussed how there was nothing scarier than racism.
“I look at racism as a monster,” Peele said at the time. “It’s an American monster, but it’s also an innately human demon — and it’s not a one-sided thing. Everyone has to deal with their own innate feelings of racism and outsmart the racism within ourselves.”
Peele has teamed with “Insecure” creator and star Issa Rae for the forthcoming mysterious drama “Sinkhole.”
He is also one of the executive producers of HBO’s new horror series “Lovecraft Country,” which melds horror, issues of race and history. (HBO is owned by CNN’s parent company.)
The series feels especially of the moment and a harbinger of more to come.
Sujata Day: This multihyphenate believes Hollywood is indeed moving toward telling more diverse stories in multiple genres.
The actress, best known for playing Sarah on “Insecure,” has embarked on her directorial debut with a film she wrote titled “Definition Please.”
Day also stars in an upcoming South Asian family dramedy that follows the life of a National Spelling Bee champ who grows up to become less than successful.
She told CNN that — in terms of the industry — “across the board, something has been happening that has been lingering the past few years.”
The recent racial reckoning has highlighted a lack of diverse decision makers positioned to green light TV shows and movies, she said, and helped push for accelerated change.
Day welcomes the turning tide toward accountability and transparency into the inner workings of the Hollywood establishment.
“Right now is the moment when people are learning and listening and these decision makers are listening and they are aware that it is a huge problem,” Day said. “So it’s really exciting for people like us who have these amazing, authentic, unique stories to tell that have never been told before and to have previously closed doors now being opened.”
“It’s almost like, well, it’s about time and we’re ready to give you the project and the story,” she added. “We have all these new voices and we’re up to the task. “

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