*Nearly six years ago, Viola Davis made history as the first Black woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama. In her acceptance speech, she emphasized, “The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”
NBCUniversal has long been on a journey to create those opportunities: to build an inclusive, equitable industry where creators from all backgrounds and identities can tell stories as diverse as the audiences we serve, and amplify previously overlooked narratives.
Our company’s commitment to diversity dates back to 1939 when NBC aired “The Ethel Waters Show.” Waters broke barriers as the first Black person to star in her own television show. Since then, the company has aired many history-making moments for underrepresented communities and created opportunities for diverse talent in the industry. For more than two decades, NBCUniversal’s talent pipeline programs have discovered and developed emerging talent on and off the screen, and program alumni are celebrated writers, producers, directors and onscreen talent who continue to impact our content and the industry at large.
Multicultural content—from the shows that air in primetime, to the ad creative that serves as a connective tissue for the viewing experience, to the connections our own NBCU family members have both in front of and behind the camera—has the power to shape conversation, influence culture, and change our world for the better. And we’re committed to helping the next generation of artists create even more of it.
We know that in order to change the industry, we must start from within. That’s why NBCUniversal has doubled down on its commitment to hire and retain diverse talent, from the decision-makers casting our shows, to the people yelling “cut,” to the costumers and makeup artists and set designers that bring our stories to life. Because when people from all backgrounds, experiences, and cultures bring their own stories to the ones we’re telling onscreen—that’s how we create content that truly resonates.
We also know that meaningful transformation takes trusted partnership. So, in partnership with Target, we’re proud to premiere our Scene in Color Film Series. Hosted by award-winning producer Will Packer, this series will offer rising talent access to our biggest stage, One Platform, as well as the resources and mentorship needed to create even more impactful multicultural stories in the future.
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This summer, the Scene in Color Film Series will feature three incredibly talented emerging Black filmmakers and their work. Chicago filmmaker Addison Wright spotlights Black ballerinas who are blending hip-hop with classical pointe in “Hiplet: Because We Can.” With her visual poem, “To the Girl that Looks Like Me,” activist and filmmaker Ewurakua Dawson-Amoah shows Black women that there is space for them in the media industry. And Brooklyn-based Kristian King’s “Twice As Good” tells the story of an over-achiever readying to chart her own path—much like King herself.
These three selections are the result of an intensive search through forums and online film festivals for rising BIPOC talent. And though the stories, structures, and formats of the films differ, each exist at the intersection of justice and joy.
“Inclusivity is core to the Target brand, and partnering with NBCU to share the stories of the Scene in Color Film Series broadly and boldly helps create a more equitable and representative creative landscape,” said Maurice Cooper, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Target. “We need the voices of these emerging creators now more than ever, and are proud to invest in their continued mentorship, development, and ingenuity.”
Throughout the summer, audiences tuning in across NBCU’s ecosystem—from linear to digital to streaming—will be able to watch these extraordinary short films and learn more about each filmmaker’s personal and professional journey. It’s a continuation of our partnership with Target, which includes last year’s “Stay-In Theater” family movie nights during the height of the pandemic. And it’s all part of our effort to offer audiences more—more inclusive, more authentic, and more representative content—this season, and all year-long: on linear, on digital and in the writer’s room.
On cable, that means the return of the iconic summer movie nights on Bravo, SYFY and USA—this time with 25-35 minutes less commercial time. Not only does drastically reducing ad time provide an enhanced viewer experience, it also offers a platform for the Scene in Color Film Series to gain national exposure and advance these incredible stories in a unique way. Starting tonight—with “White House Down” on SYFY—we will highlight the personal and professional journeys of Dawson-Amoah, Wright and King through docu-style custom content where they discuss their short films. This will continue throughout the summer across all three networks, amplifying each filmmaker’s voices while providing them unique platforms towards success tailored to each network’s audience.
Across our digital properties—including Peacock, the NBC One App, Rotten Tomatoes, and Fandango Movieclips —“more” means elevating the work of these emerging filmmakers and amplifying their voices by featuring their films across our streaming ecosystem. This combination of franchise movies, custom content, and distribution is one unique to NBCUniversal.
And when it comes to our development plans, more means believing in—and investing in—the next generation of filmmakers. Created entirely in-house—from writing, to casting, to directing—the three films showcased this summer are the result of a collaborative effort between the filmmakers, Target, the NBCUniversal programming team, and our creative partnerships team.
Going forward, through the Scene in Color Film Series, we will be providing blind script deals for all three emerging creators, with the opportunity to work alongside NBCU’s creative executives to develop a TV pilot script as well as grow and thrive under Will’s continued mentorship, all supported by a generous grant from our partners at Target. More broadly, NBCUniversal will continue to bridge inclusive content with inventive experiences, building commercial breaks as engaging, empowering, and entertaining as the shows people love.
In the six years since Viola Davis won her history-making Emmy, the industry has made meaningful progress. Still, when it comes to multicultural content, there is so much more to be done; so many opportunities to create; so many stories to tell. Trusted partnership has enabled us to open our platform for the next generation of creators, while giving our audiences more of the content that speaks to them. Tune in this evening at 9:00pm on SYFY as we kick off this summer’s movie nights and celebrate the incredible moviemakers of the future.