Diverse Representation Organization Launches Black Entertainment Executives Pipeline Initiative (Exclusive)

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The annual program will pair six participants with industry mentors and a project in development at a studio, production company or network to help see it through.

The organization Diverse Representation is establishing an annual program that seeks to augment the number of Black executives in Hollywood, The Hollywood Reporter has exclusively learned.

The group's Black Entertainment Executives Pipeline program, sponsored by major civil rights nonprofit Color of Change, will pair six participants with industry mentors as well as a project in development with a studio, production company or network to help see it through. Diverse Representation works on increasing the visibility of Black agents, managers, attorneys and publicists in the entertainment industry and maintains a directory of Black reps in Hollywood.

Participating industry mentors as well as production companies, studios and networks will be announced at a later date.

"This year Diverse Representation hosted several virtual panels focused on and featuring African American executives in the entertainment industry. One key takeaway from many of these panel conversations was that diversity is still a tantamount issue at the executive level," Diverse Representation's founder and CEO, Jaia Thomas, Esq., said in a statement. "Our goal with this new program is to ensure that more African Americans are in leadership positions and executive roles within this industry."

The organization cites the 2020 UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report, which found that heads of studios are 91 percent white and senior management teams 93 percent white, while unit heads are 86 percent white.

"As an African American executive in the entertainment industry who receives constant inquiries from studios and agencies seeking diverse executives, I’ve witnessed firsthand the need for a program like this," Prince Baggett, the former head of motion picture and co-head of development and production at Genius Productions, Marsai Martin's shingle, said in a statement. "We need to make sure there isn’t just diversity onscreen but diversity in the Hollywood executive suites where key decisions are made. This program takes actionable steps to ensure we have a seat at the table."

Steve Harvey Global COO and general counsel Brandon R. Williams added in his own statement, "The need for more African American executives in the entertainment industry has never been more necessary. By having more African American executives in the entertainment sector, society at large wins because it will result in more vital and necessary stories being told that are near and dear to the culture that is being celebrated and enjoyed every day."

Applications for the program will be available on Diverse Representation's website Jan. 1-31. There is no fee to apply.

"It is imperative that Black people are represented at all levels of Hollywood to ensure the industry replaces harmful narratives with more honest, and expansive depictions of our community. Fighting for Black representation at the executive level is paramount to this pursuit," Kristen Marston, culture and entertainment advocacy director at Color of Change, said in a statement. "Color of Change Hollywood is honored to sponsor the Black Entertainment Executives Pipeline to help empower the next generation of industry leaders."