ViacomCBS Launches Inclusivity Effort for First-Time Filmmakers

Viacom CBS E&Y Compilation Photo

ViacomCBS is launching an effort to give more people of color and women a shot at directing made-for-television movies for its Entertainment and Youth Group.

The Chris McCarthy-led unit has set up a First Time Directors program that will produce 50 films from BIPOC and women filmmakers for Paramount Network, Comedy Central, MTV and other outlets under the Entertainment and Youth banner. The program will pair the directors with a roster of A-list executive producers: ViacomCBS has made deals with Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance (Bassett Vance Productions), Idris Elba (Green Door Films), Salma Hayek (Ventanarosa Productions), Priyanka Chopra Jonas (Purple Pebble Pictures), John Leguizamo (Rebel Productions) and Eva Longoria (UnbeliEVAble Entertainment).

"We are thrilled to partner with these icons of entertainment to cultivate first-time BIPOC and first-time women directors," said Nina L. Diaz, president of content and chief creative officer for the Entertainment and Youth Group. "Together, we will give rise to multi-cultural narratives and voices that resonate with audiences around the world."

The program's launch comes a day after ViacomCBS announced it will rebrand and change the focus of Paramount Network early next year. The channel will become the Paramount Movie Network and focus on producing original films to debut every week of the year, along with a handful of scripted series including the channel's breakout hit Yellowstone. The Entertainment and Youth Group also plans to up production of original movies across its other channels, which also include VH1, CMT, TV Land, Logo and Smithsonian Channel.

The First Time Directors projects will fall under E&Y Group's recently formed original movie and limited series division, headed by Meghan Hooper White.