The police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other unarmed black men and women that year sparked a resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement around the world, forcing the nation to grapple with its history of systemic racism and its effects on all Aspects of America deal with life. As a result, Hollywood, like many other industries, is working to address its infamous lack of diversity with a new sense of urgency. Despite the increase in content with more black leads and actors, record-breaking film producer Will Packer says the industry still has a long way to go to achieve racial equality. According to the filmmaker behind "Girls Trip," "Think Like A Man" and other blockbusters featured on No. 1 at the box office, Hollywood is still largely driven by white male executives and decision-makers.
“It is important that we represent marginalized groups on camera, but the reality is that some of your favorite shows [and] maybe even some of your favorite films have a very homogeneous team behind the scenes putting this show or film together. It's important, ”said Packers, whose films grossed over $ 1 billion.
Throughout his career, Packer has enhanced the careers of stars like Idris Elba, Tiffany Haddish and Kevin Hart. In addition, he has purposely created opportunities for people of color and others with different backgrounds.
"I'm very proud of my track record of getting people into positions to win, be they showrunners, directors, writers [and] actors," says the filmmaker. "I take pride in bringing these people to work," said Packer, adding that he is hiring black writers, women and creatives in the LGBTQ community. "I want my content and the team that creates it to look like the world."
Last year, Packer and award-winning executive producer Monique Chenault released the debut “Central Ave,” an investigative news magazine that delves into entertainment stories from a multicultural perspective. The show conducted a successful five-week test run on Fox stations in November 2019 before launching national syndication in September. "Central Ave" is moderated by the former co-host of "106 & Park", Julissa Bermudez, and the four-time Olympic champion Sanya Richards-Ross. It is also the first show of its kind to be hosted by two women of color. According to Chenault, the presenters tell stories from a different perspective while the show's correspondents, which include Van Lathan, Kennedy-Rue McCollough, and Neima Abdulahi, add context to a mix of social topics and celebrity news.
"There has been a real shortage of this type of storytelling, especially with national syndication or on television," said Chenault, whose credits include Entertainment Tonight / The Insider, Access Hollywood Live, Extra and Divorce Court. “This is the first time we've not only had two presenters in front of the camera, but Will and I really built an extremely diverse team behind the scenes, and we've never seen a pop culture strip or weekly series. A lot of the other shows, while there are some differences in front of the camera, are incredibly homogeneous behind the camera, ”added the showrunner.
Although Packer describes the struggle for diversity in Hollywood as "an uphill battle," he is committed to putting the work into change.
"I'm not someone who complains about how unfair the field is. I'm someone who says tell me what I have and let me do the best I can and try to bring others along. Because my opinion after you equalize the playing field. "
Check out the full interview by Will Packer and Monique Chenault The new norm with Selena Hill below.