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ViacomCBS International Studios on Tuesday announced the launch of a new corporate division focused on social impact-driven content. The division, VIS Social Impact will assess the impact on issues including climate, equity, and health of content produced across ViacomCBS’ portfolio of brands, including Paramount+, as well as for third-party partners.
VIS Social Impact is part of Content for Change, a global ViacomCBS initiative that aims to counteract racism, bias, stereotypes, and hate through the company’s corporate culture, its creative supply chain, and ultimately in the content it creates.
Georgia Arnold, SVP of Social Responsibility at ViacomCBS Networks International, will head up VIS Social Impact, reporting to JC Acosta, President of ViacomCBS International Studios and Networks Americas. Arnold was executive director and co-founder of the MTV Staying Alive Foundation, group set up to provide young people around the world with better information around sexual and reproductive health and HIV. She is also the executive producer of the MTV Shuga series starring Lupita Nyong’o and Thuso Mbedu, which combined stories of young people and intimacy with sexual health messaging.
“Georgia is a leader in the social responsibility space with a proven track record of driving groundbreaking social-impact initiatives for our brand,” said JC Acosta in a statement. “Creating this division is a natural evolution for ViacomCBS and further strengthens our commitment to producing best-in-class content that addresses the issues that matter most to our audiences around the world.”
The first VIS Social Impact commission will be Protest & Progress, a 3-part documentary series from world-renowned, photographer and social activist Misan Harriman. In the series, Harriman travels around the world to uncover the stories behind some of the most powerful images and art forms that have defined a moment and a movement. Protest & Progress will premiere on Paramount+, at the end of next year.
“It is an honor to be among the first commissions for VIS Social Impact and to have an opportunity to present the power of photography and art to a global audience on Paramount+,” Harriman said in a statement. “This is a passion project that explores how a single image can reflect and influence society and inspire hope.”
In addition, VIS Social Impact will champion diverse creators and content focused on underrepresented communities. The studio will begin with an inclusive writers’ room, lead by multi-hyphenate Thishiwe Ziqubu (Emoyeni), focused on scripted ideas powered by a diverse group of creatives, with a strong presence of participants from LGBTQ+ communities.
“As a gender non-binary creative, spaces where our voices are heard for their pure artistic truth is imperative,” said Ziqubu. “Free room for expression of our individual lived experience is rare. I look forward to the tapestry of ideas emerging from this room of Black storytellers with a unique voice.”
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