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Canadian broadcasters are no longer commissioning homegrown originals from too-white indie production teams as part of an industry-wide inclusion initiative.
To help meet new diversity goals, Bell Media, Corus Entertainment and Rogers Sports & Media have agreed to compel local film and TV producers to use a new HireBIPOC database of diverse talent and crew to secure a green light for indie content.
The staffing web portal aims to get more Black, Indigenous and people of color individuals into the top reaches of the Canadian industry to eliminate systemic racism. The HireBIPOC roster, spearheaded by BIPOC TV & Film and Bell Media, had over 600 diverse talent and crewmembers registered with website profiles within hours of being launched on Monday.
“When we speak with the production company about greenlighting a new show, we will do so based on full BIPOC representation from our HireBIPOC website,” Bell Media president Randy Lennox told The Hollywood Reporter on Monday.
Lennox added that making use of HireBIPOC as a condition of green lighting indie production is not about meeting quotas, but changing hiring practices to bring marginalized creators into the mainstream of the Canadian industry.
“We’re using this as our IMDb for the community to make sure we have full BIPOC representation,” he added of HireBIPOC, which sorts member profiles via 29 different employable skill sets. The Canadian staffing resource is also expected to be used by U.S. studios and streamers producing their own originals north of the border.
While Canadians have access to a slew of U.S. TV shows from Black creators like Scandal, Empire, Dear White People and Black-ish, local TV dramas and movies written by Black Canadians such as the CBC’s The Book of Negroes and the global comedy Da Kink in My Hair are rare.
Among exceptions currently on Canadian TV is the CBC legal drama Diggstown, created by Floyd Kane and picked up stateside by BET+.
BIPOC TV & Film is among a host of industry groups like Racial Equity Media Collective, IMPACT, the Indigenous Screen Office and the Black Screen Office that have urged broadcasters and the federal government — a major funder of local film and TV content — to fund more homegrown content from diverse production teams and help talent and crew from underrepresented communities advance their careers at home, rather than be forced to go to Los Angeles.
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