In a coordinated effort for the ViacomCBS Entertainment & Youth Group First Time Directors program, a star-studded array of high-profile executive producer deals with Angela Bassett, Idris Elba, Salma Hayek, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, John Leguizamo, Eva Longoria and Courtney B. Vance and their respective production companies will produce 50 films across Paramount Network, MTV, Comedy Central and more ViacomCBS entities, for first time Black, Indigenous, persons of color and women filmmakers to tell diverse stories in their own voices. The goal is to provide opportunities for the next generation of filmmakers from marginalized groups.
The production companies include Angela Bassett & Courtney B. Vance's Bassett Vance Productions, Idris Elba's Green Door
Pictures, Salma Hayek's Ventanarosa Productions, Priyanka Chopra Jonas'Purple Pebble Pictures, John Leguizamo's Rebel Productions, and Eva Longoria's UnbelieEVAble Entertainment.
"We are thrilled to embark upon this very important journey with ViacomCBS in telling stories that are representative of communities of people who are often missing from the majority landscape of film and television," Bassett and Vance said jointly in a statement. "It means opening doors for new and fresh voices, both in front of and behind the camera, something that has always been a top priority for us. We look forward to being a part of a growing coalition of directors, producers, actors and writers who will be the change agents at the forefront of a new, multicultural, and more dynamic workforce in this industry."
Actor-Producer-DJ Idris Elba added, "I'm incredibly proud to join a group of such extraordinary talent and welcome this commitment from ViacomCBS to introduce opportunity into their business model. When I set up Green Door one of my core philosophies was to promote and encourage a diversity of ideas from new voices who might otherwise be shut out of the industry establishment. I believe that this is a bold step forward and look forward to working with a new cohort of original storytellers across the ViacomCBS E&Y Group."
The collaboration comes after months of civil unrest, stirred to a boiling point following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police. The Black Lives Matter movement has prompted several Hollywood entities to promise to do deeper work when it comes to showcasing and greenlighting more diverse stories. ViacomCBS announced earlier this summer its goal of having 44 percent of its writers across the broadcast network to be Black, Indigenous, or persons of color and marked 25 percent of its development budget for the 2021-22 TV season for stories helmed by people from those communities.
The movies created by this latest venture will air on MTV, Comedy Central, and Paramount Network as well as find a streaming home on VIacomCBS' premium streaming service Paramount+.