- Actor Michael B. Jordan partnered with nonprofit Color of Change to create an initiative called #ChangeHollywood, which aims to promote anti-racist and Black storytelling in the industry.
- The initiative sets out a roadmap for leaders to follow, including hiring more Black creators, divesting from police, changing the way the criminal justice system is represented, and supporting the Black community throughout production.
- Hollywood’s history of racism and poor representation is no secret. According to UCLA’s 2020 Hollywood Diversity Report, less than one-third of lead acting roles go to people of color, while less than 1.5 out of 10 directors are people of color.
- This initiative comes as many actors are calling for change in the industry, and as other facets of Hollywood are pledging to increase diversity on set.
As many facets of Hollywood are reckoning with the systemic racism that has permeated the industry for years, actor Michael B. Jordan has created an initiative to promote diversity and anti-racist storytelling in film.
The “Creed” and “Black Panther” star partnered with the nonprofit Color of Change to start the effort, which is called #ChangeHollywood. One of the main initiatives of #ChangeHollywood is to create a roadmap that leaders in the industry can turn to when working towards increasing representation on their sets. They hope that their concrete suggestions will lead to real actions that Hollywood can take in the fight for racial justice.
“The history of racism in Hollywood is long and unforgivable,” Jordan and Rashad Robinson, the president of Color of Change wrote in a statement.
“We can break the pattern, and change that trajectory,” the two added. “The understanding of Hollywood’s impact on society has never been more widespread, and the demand for addressing systemic racism in Hollywood has never been greater. We must answer the call to action.”
The roadmap breaks down into four recommendations. The first encourages the entertainment industry to divest from police and instead use that economic power to advocate for Black communities. In order to do this, #ChangeHollywood recommends that studios hire independent security instead of police officers, turn to authorities other than the police when it comes to shaping content about the criminal justice system, and put pressure on local governments to move funding to Black communities.
When it comes to storytelling, #ChangeHollywood recommends that the industry invest in anti-racist and authentic Black content and voices. This could involve hiring cultural consultants and Black executives, as well as changing the way the criminal justice system is represented on screen.
The roadmap further suggests that Hollywood invest in Black talent both in front of and behind the camera. One of the biggest suggestions is that filmmakers adopt inclusion riders in their contracts, which are clauses that mandate a certain level of diversity in productions. #ChangeHollywood also recommends anti-racism training, transparency about staff diversity, and proactive recruitment of Black industry workers.
The last suggestion encourages studios to work with Black-owned businesses and other companies that value social justice.
“Hollywood should use its economic power to support Black communities in all the cities in which it operates,” #ChangeHollywood’s website explains.
“This roadmap is just the beginning of the journey to racial justice. We are all accomplices in the fight to transform Hollywood, and we invite content creators and industry leaders to join us in working together to #ChangeHollywood,” Jordan told the Hollywood Reporter, which first broke the news about this initiative. “We look forward to including a variety of voices in doing what we do best: telling authentic stories, bringing people together, partnering with influential artists, and changing the rules of the game.”
Hollywood’s History of Racism
Representation has long been an issue in Hollywood. UCLA’s 2020 Hollywood Diversity Report found that people of color are underrepresented in every level of the industry. Roughly three out of every ten lead actors are people of color, while only 1.5 out of ten directors are people of color.
When it comes to film executives, diversity lacks even more. Around 91% of chairs or CEOS are white and 82% are male. Senior executives are similarly white and male.
When it comes to the Academy Awards, the absence of representation follows. In the last 50 years, only 10% of acting nominees have been actors of color. Only six Black directors have ever been nominated for Best Director.
In recent months, calls for change have increased. More stars like Kerry Washington, Anthony Mackie, and Viola Davis have spoken candidly about racism in the industry as well as the need for Black voices to be centered.
There have also been calls for more representation in hair and makeup departments, which some studios have vowed to listen to. ViacomCBS in the U.K. set new standards for diversity in front of and behind the camera across the pond, and in the U.S., CBS announced plans to diversify their writers’ rooms.
In other cases, Hollywood has done a cleanse of white people taking up space that they should not be. White actors like Jenny Slate and Kristen Bell opted to step away from projects where they were providing voices for Black and biracial animated characters. In reality television, several stars have been dropped from shows for past racist behavior.
See what others are saying: (The Hollywood Reporter) (The Wrap) (USA Today)
Netflix Reinstates Employee Who Crashed Director-Level Meeting After Criticizing Dave Chapelle
Terra Field had publicly accused Chappelle of making transphobic remarks in his new stand-up special “The Closer” just days before she was suspended.
Netflix Reinstates Terra Field
Netflix reinstated a transgender employee who was critical of Dave Chappelle’s new stand-up special after suspending her for attending a director-level meeting without an invitation.
Terra Field tweeted on Tuesday that she was reinstated once the company determined “there was no ill-intent in” her decision to attend the meeting.
“I’m going to take a few days off to decompress and try to figure out where I’m at,” she added. “At the very least, I feel vindicated.”
Field also shared an email Netflix sent her regarding her suspension being lifted.
“Our investigation did not find that you joined the QBR meeting with any ill intent and that you genuinely didn’t think there was anything wrong with seeking access to this meeting,” the email said. “Additionally, when a Director shared the link it further supported that this was a meeting you could attend.”
Field’s suspension came just days after she tweeted a viral thread criticizing Chappelle’s latest program on Netflix, “The Closer.” She was one of many activists who claimed Chappelle’s set was transphobic and encouraged Netflix to take action. Field wrote that his comments attacked “the very validity of transness.” Netflix insisted those tweets had nothing to do with her suspension.
Field reportedly attended the director-level meeting with two other employees who were also suspended. A spokesperson for Netflix told Deadline that those two staffers have likewise been reinstated and the company “will be distributing broader guidance about meetings and clarifying which are for which people.”
Netflix’s Response to Dave Chappelle Controversy
Netflix, for its part, has defended Chappelle and rejected calls to remove “The Closer” from the streaming service.
“It never feels good when people are hurting, especially our colleagues,” Netflix co-CEO Ted Srandos wrote in an internal memo. “You should also be aware that some talent may join third parties in asking us to remove the show in the coming days, which we are not going to do.”
“We don’t allow titles on Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe The Closer crosses that line,” he added. “I recognize, however, that distinguishing between commentary and harm is hard, especially with stand-up comedy which exists to push boundaries. Some people find the art of stand-up to be mean spirited but our members enjoy it, and it’s an important part of our content offering.”
Among other things, Chappelle took time in his special to defend author J.K. Rowling, who previously faced backlash over a series of transphobic remarks she made. Chappelle said he agreed with Rowling.
“I’m team TERF,” he added. “I agree. I agree, man. Gender is a fact.”
Chappelle went on to make jokes about Caitlyn Jenner before comparing the genitalia of transgender women to Beyond and Impossible meat.
Many employees at Netflix are still frustrated with the way the platform has handled the controversy surrounding “The Closer.” According to The Verge, a trans employee resource group is planning a walkout on Oct. 20.
“Trans Lives Matter. Trans Rights Matter,” the group said in a memo. “And as an organization, Netflix has continually failed to show deep care in our mission to Entertain the World by repeatedly releasing content that harms the Trans community and continually failing to create content that represents and uplifts Trans content. We can and must do better!”
See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Deadline) (The New York Times)
Lil Nas X and Bella Poarch May Have Abandoned Plans To Participate In TikTok NFT Program
Lil Nas X’s TikTok NFT was scheduled to debut a week ago and is still not available to the public.
Creators Allegedly Leave TikTok’s NFT Program
Musicians Lil Nas X and Bella Poarch may have quietly exited TikTok’s new NFT collection, according to a report from Rolling Stone.
TikTok first announced the line, which is called “TikTok Top Moments,” at the end of September. It involves a series of creator-led NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, which are unique and tradeable digital assets. TikTok’s NFTs can be purchased with the cryptocurrency Ethereum. According to a press release, the money will “largely go directly to the creators and NFT artists involved.”
TikTok said that creators like Poarch, Lil Nas X, Grimes, Curtis Roach, Brittany Broski, and more would be participating in the program. The company called NFTs an “empowerment tool” that will allow these creators to “be recognized and rewarded for their content.” It planned to debut the collection on Oct. 6 with Lil Nas X’s NFT, but that token has still not been made available. A source told Rolling Stone that it may never be released.
NFT Rollout Described as “A Mess”
The outlet also reported that Poarch is “actively contemplating pulling out of the program due to worries about its execution.” According to Rolling Stone, three sources familiar with the rollout of the program have described it as “a challenge,” “a mess,” and “a complete joke.”
Those sources claimed that in order to secure Poarch’s initial participation, TikTok offered her marketing support worth potentially $4 million for her next release. The company also allegedly promised to use one of her songs in an end-of-year campaign. A spokesperson for TikTok, however, described these claims as “not accurate.”
Neither Poarch nor Lil Nas X has commented on their participation yet. Meanwhile, TikTok declined to answer Rolling Stone’s questions about the status of their NFTs.
Some of TikTok’s announced NFTs have gone public, though. Throughout Tuesday, Roach’s “Bored in the House” video was up for auction on the platform Immutable.
NFTs took the internet by storm in early 2021, but their popularity peaked in May and declined throughout the summer. Celebrities, tech moguls, and everyday people featured in viral memes have hopped on the trend and made millions doing so.
According to Rolling Stone, TikTok has valued some of its own NFTs at $1 million. Now, it’s unclear if those tokens will ever hit the market.
See what others are saying: (Rolling Stone) (Dexerto)
Ariana Grande, Bella Hadid, and Others Honor World Mental Health Day
A slew of stars acknowledged the day by sharing personal stories and making hefty donations to organizations that offer mental health resources.
Celebrities Donate to Mental Health Organizations
Major celebrities honored World Mental Health Day on Sunday by speaking candidly about their mental health struggles and donating to nonprofits.
Singer Ariana Grande announced that she is donating $5 million worth of free therapy through the online counseling platform Better Help. The star previously partnered with the company over the summer to give $1 million in therapy to fans and opted to throw more money at the program following its success.
“I acknowledge that there are very real barriers when it comes to accessing mental health resources, and while this is only one small gesture (and a much larger systemic problem remains) I wanted to do this again with @betterhelp in hopes of bringing access to a few more people and perhaps inspiring a few of you to try something new and prioritize your own healing,” Grande wrote on Instagram.
Those interested can sign up for a free first month of Better Help and get an additional 15% off the second month.
Model Bella Hadid also pledged to donate to mental health resources. She teamed up with the beverage company Kin Euphorics, which will donate 10% of its October sales to Gurls Talk, a nonprofit that gives adolescent girls a space to talk about mental health, along with various educational tools to aid those discussions. Hadid will match those donations.
“Dealing with mental illness for most of my life, bringing awareness to the education of mental health through my platform is something that I will continue to do until our mental is just as respected as our physical,” Hadid wrote. “I want everyone who struggles daily to know that you are not alone.”
Stars Share Resources and Personal Stories
Meanwhile, actress and singer Selena Gomez used her new makeup brand Rare Beauty to share statistics about the prevalence of mental illness and the efforts to combat it. The company, which has previously focused on several mental health initiatives, shared that just 1.3% of philanthropic investments go towards supporting mental health.
The company additionally cited information from an American Psychological Association report, which revealed that young people are particularly vulnerable to mental health struggles. It found that seven out of 10 Gen Z adults are more likely to report experiencing depression symptoms compared to other generations.
Gomez shared Rare Beauty’s post to her own story as well.
Singer Olivia Rodrigo similarly opened up about mental health and therapy during an interview with CBS that aired Sunday. In it, she said she has been in therapy since she was 16, which she believes has helped her both personally and professionally.
“That was a really big, life-changing moment,” she said. “I’ve learned so much about myself.”
“I think there’s sometimes a stigma around it, too, like I was saying,” the singer continued. “Sometimes people are like, ‘Oh, you don’t need that. You have so much. Your life is so great. What are your problems?’ I think that’s definitely a thing that sometimes older people can do to younger people to kind of trivialize what they’re going through.”