Time's Up Launches Initiative to Diversify Hollywood's Producer, Exec Pool

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The new "Who's in the Room" program, jump-started by a CBS grant, will provide participants with industry mentors, instruction and financial aid for those in need.

On the heels of CBS' announcement of which entities would receive the $20 million donation the company said it would make as part of its separation agreement with former CEO Les Moonves, Time's Up has announced what it plans to do with its $500,000 share.

On Friday Time's Up Entertainment, the division of the Time's Up coalition that focuses on the entertainment industry, announced that it was launching an initiative called "Who's in the Room," which will aim to diversify Hollywood's producer and executive pool. The $500,000 that Time's Up will receive from CBS will fund the initiative in its early stages.

The "Who's in the Room" initiative aims to increase the number of people of color and people from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds among producers and execs. The program will select mentees currently in entry-level positions and assistant positions that could lead to junior-exec promotions and provide mentors, instruction and financial aid if needed. The first class of mentees, comprising 10 individuals, will be mentored for nine months; the second class will have 50 mentees supported for two years each.

Industry leaders including Chernin president of film and TV Jenno Topping, Netflix vp of original films Tendo Nagenda, television executive Tara Duncan and Warner Bros. Pictures senior vp, film production Niija Kuykendall will lead the effort, the organization announced.

“The fact is that young people are dropping out of the industry because they are not being provided the support to succeed — this program provides them that targeted support,” Time's Up Entertainment executive director Nithya Raman said in a statement. “We thank CBS for funding this important program and feel extraordinarily grateful to have such a committed and talented group of industry leaders lending their time and talent to shape this program.”

Time's Up adds that it has built "accountability measures" into its new mentorship program, including weekly check-ins and attendance checks at educational events for mentees. The program's "curriculum," as the organization is calling it, will include instruction on the contemporary buyer and seller landscape, the linguistics of deals and basic financial modeling, among other topics.

The program will also provide financial aid to help candidates in need in order to advance in the industry, with a limit of up to $10,000 in financial assistance per candidate. Funds can be used to access professional development opportunities like film festivals, fulfill basic needs like gas costs and/or provide emergency relief.

“There is nothing short of an urgent need at the moment to have the people who buy, create and promote entertainment content be more representative of the people we serve,” Topping said in a statement. “WITR hopes to exponentially change and expand the landscape within five years by aggressively growing the next crop of producer and executive talent. Recent financial data, such as the recent report from Creative Artists Agency and shift7, confirms it’s in all of our best interests."