Endeavor Trio Named City of L.A.'s 2019 Entrepreneurs in Residence
Theresa Kang-Lowe, Amir Shahkhalili and Kevin Iwashina will serve a yearlong term to increase diversity in the film industry.
WME partners Theresa Kang-Lowe and Amir Shahkhalili and Endeavor Content senior associate Kevin Iwashina have been named the city of Los Angeles' 2019 Entrepreneurs in Residence, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
Launched in 2014, the EIR program annually appoints two to three business leaders to work with the city to develop ideas and initiatives that can improve and strengthen policy, the workforce and the economy in L.A. While past EIRs have included World Economic Forum council chair Krisztina Holly, Allied Group founder Amir Tehrani, Susa Ventures general partner Eva Ho, tech investor Jason Lawrence Nazar, EndoCyclic Therapeutics co-founder Dr. Tanya Petrossian, Mendocino Farms co-founders Ellen Chen and Mario Del Pero and investors Courtney and Carter Reum, the 2019 class hails from entertainment and will work closely on L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti's Evolve Entertainment Fund.
Launched last February as a public-private partnership with Ava DuVernay, producer Dan Lin and more than 60 companies, the EEF focuses on building career pipelines in film, television and music for women, people of color and the city's low-income and underserved residents through paid internships, focused mentorships, workshops and panels. So far, the EEF has secured 140 internships and three full-time job offers and aims to serve 1,000 Angelenos by the end of 2020.
In addition to building support and expanding EEF, Kang-Lowe, Shahkhalili and Iwashina will partner with USC's Annenberg Inclusion Initiative to study diversity in the city's entertainment industry, focusing in particular on below-the-line jobs.
"Endeavor is at the center of a global network that will help strengthen my office's work to build a more inclusive entertainment ecosystem," Garcetti said in a statement. "Theresa, Kevin and Amir will bring new ideas and energy to our efforts to provide young people in underserved communities with opportunities to follow their dreams in Hollywood."
The trio will officially kick off their yearlong terms at Sundance, where five EEF students will participate in the festival's Ignite program, which curates screenings, panels and networking opportunities for creators aged 18 through 24.
"We're looking forward to welcoming the Evolve Entertainment Fund students at our festival," Sundance Institute executive director Keri Putnam said in a statement. "Cultivating rising generations of creative storytellers is in the culture's best interest, and engaging students like these with our community of independent artists, industry members and film enthusiasts is a crucial way to spark dialogue and evolution."
Kang-Lowe represents film and television literary clients including Lena Waithe, Guillermo del Toro, Lisa Joy, Gillian Flynn, Steve Zaillian and Prentice Penny. In addition, she co-founded WME's internal inclusion program Empower and is an advocate for underrepresented creators and executives. Fellow L.A. native Iwashina works with media companies and content creators in non-fiction, identifying financing opportunities, handling sales and providing advisory services. And Shahkhalili also works in non-fiction and non-scripted programming, representing clients including John Legend, Whoopi Goldberg, eOneTelevision, 44 Blue Productions, Herzog & Company and Vox Entertainment in film and television.
"It is an honor for us to function as EIRs for Mayor Garcetti and the city of Los Angeles on their yearlong concentration on diversity and inclusion in entertainment," Shahkhalili said in a statement. "We are incredibly eager to provide young Angelenos access and exposure to the entertainment industry. We look forward to bringing the Evolve Entertainment Fund to the forefront of conversation as we address systemic change that will impact the future of our industry."
The EIR program is supported by Ernst & Young LLP as well as the Mayor's Fund for Los Angeles. "We're proud to support these Entrepreneurs-in-Residence and their critical work, which will help more creators from underserved communities tell their stories, contribute innovative ideas and add their voices to L.A.'s thriving entertainment industry," Patrick Niemann, managing partner of EY's L.A. office, said in a statement. "At EY, we believe that it's critical to maximize the power of different opinions, perspectives and cultural insights to succeed in the global marketplace."