The NAACP’s initial efforts centered on a “think tank” and symposium with industry experts held in 2016, as part of a series entitled, Pictures, Power, Progress: Pathways to Inclusion. “Our initial goal was to work toward solutions that could be implemented quickly,” said Robin Harrison, acting director of the NAACP Hollywood Bureau. “This included developing resource materials with information on guilds, internships and fellowships that people of color would find particularly useful.”
The “think tank” included experts in production, marketing publicity, academia, foundations and actors. David Porter, executive director of the Walter Kaitz Foundation was among the industry experts participating in the initial “think tank.”
This year, the organization hosted Pathways to Inclusion: Reimagining the Industry, a two-part series hosted by The Walt Disney Company. Part one was an ideas brunch designed to replicate old-fashioned salon dinners, where the best minds in a given field came together to shape and redefine history through conversations over a meal. “The purpose of the invitation only brunch was to elicit ideas on a single solution through an open, free-flowing conversation among industry innovators and influencers, educators and future stars.” said Harrison.
The industry brunch consisted of eight tables with six to eight attendees per table discussing a single topic: how the industry can infuse the talent pipeline in Hollywood to make it more inclusive. Each table was hosted by one of the “think tank” participants and included a notetaker allowing the participants to have a free-flowing conversation.
The second part of the series took place a few days after the ideas brunch during the 14th Annual NAACP Hollywood Bureau Symposium at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. The Symposium examined viable solutions for addressing diversity and inclusion in the entertainment industry through two panel discussions. The first panel presented some of the ideas generated from the brunch, while the second one focused on solutions that had been implemented.
Currently, the information from the ideas brunch and all the symposiums is being aggregated and it is anticipated that the results will be recapped in a newsletter then compiled into an action plan and industry solutions report.
“We want to look at what’s happening behind the camera and whether the programs coming out of the guilds and studios are having an impact,” Harrison said.
Realizing that the industry is multi-layered, Harrison expects to host subsequent forums twice a year. “We realize that if you look at the success of actors like Issa Rae, there are non-traditional ways of entering the industry, and we want to explore that as well as look at the issues that impact others in the industry including grips, sound technicians and casting agents.”