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Investing in Arts Education

Creating Unexpected Opportunities in the Film Industry for Underrepresented Groups

representation-mpa-diversity, entertainment law-law
representation-mpa-diversity, entertainment law-law

If you’ve ever stepped foot on a movie or television production, you likely realized quickly that it feels like a microcosm of our society.

John Gibson

Vice President of External and Multicultural Affairs, Motion Picture Association

Each production involves much more than actors, actresses, directors, and producers. They need hair stylists, makeup artists, carpenters, caterers, lighting technicians, lawyers, accountants, and more. In fact, the industry supports more than 2.2 million jobs nationwide. I’ve long said that no matter what your field of expertise is, there is a place for you in the film, television, and streaming industry.

That’s why, 11 years ago, I joined the Motion Picture Association to launch our diversity, equity, and inclusion program. To date, our program counts 50 national civil rights and multicultural groups as partners. We work with them and our member studios to address diversity, gender parity, authentic cultural representation, and pipeline recruitment opportunities from underrepresented communities the film industry.

Providing opportunities

Our programs provide opportunities and access for young, emerging talent. This includes partnerships with the Ghetto Film School, National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP), Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), and the Native American Media Alliance (NAMA). We have also engaged with young talent to serve as MPA Youth Ambassadors at major film festivals like the American Black Film Festival. In that role, they attend major screenings and panel discussions to cover the event for the MPA’s online platform, The Credits.

The first decade of our diversity, equity, and inclusion program has been a total success — many people who have participated in programs we’ve funded are now working full-time jobs in the industry. But the MPA and our member studios wanted to do more for underrepresented groups, specifically in fields that aren’t as close to the camera. As the leading voice and advocate for the global film, television, and streaming industry, we realized we could have a major impact in the law and policy arenas of the industry.

Entertainment Law and Policy Fellowship

As a result, in 2021, we launched the Entertainment Law and Policy Fellowship program together with one of our partners, the Entertainment Industry College Outreach Program (EICOP). The Fellowship offers two recent college or law school graduates from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) a year-long, paid fellowship with either the legal or government affairs teams at the MPA and one of our member studios.

Our inaugural fellows were selected from over 100 applicants, and they hail from Howard Law School and Spelman College. They recently finished their first rotation this summer working with the MPA team in Los Angeles, and they just started the next rotation in Washington, DC. After these six months, they will then be working with one of our member studios in Los Angeles.

The program is off to a great start, and we are about to open the application process for next year! Our goal is to have even more applications than before, so we hope all qualified grads with a passion for the industry will apply.

As we celebrate the 100th year of the Motion Picture Association and the 10th anniversary of our diversity, equity, and inclusion program, this Fellowship program has marked a great expansion to the 50 partnerships and countless activations we do every year to help diversify the Hollywood pipeline — not only creators, but for everyone who wants to work in this iconic industry.

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