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How much do you know about Sylvia Holland? Or Mary Blair? A recent book reclaims the vital role of women in the early days of animation at Walt Disney’s studio. Read Betsy McLane’s review: See Link/ More.../

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Read about some of the tools editors are using as they work from home during the Covid crisis: See Link/ More.../

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Members, MPEG’s Cathy Repola is quoted in this release today about Backstage Careers, a new partnership to bring more diversity to below-the-line jobs: URBAN LEAGUE TEAMS WITH RI-KARLO HANDY TO ANNOUNCE STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP TO CREATE BELOW-THE-LINE JOBS PIPELINE TO HOLLYWOOD Negative Blacklash To Handy's Black Editor Post Results In Job Opportunities From CBS, Fremantle, Paramount, Tyler Perry Studios, Viacom, Sony, and More Adobe, AT&T, Disney, Hillman Grad Productions, AEG, Grammy Museum Foundation, Top List Of Companies Supporting Urban League Backstage Careers Program (Hollywood, CA - July 1, 2020) - Today, the Los Angeles Urban League, veteran showrunner and edtior Ri-Karlo Handy and the Handy Foundation, announced a landmark partnership to address diversity in Hollywood below-the-line, and the Editors Guild (IATSE, Local 700) is stepping in to help. Through an existing initiative, the Backstage Careers Program, diverse young adults are prepared for practical employment opportunities in TV, film, and the recording industry, with classroom training and hands-on experience. Variety was among the first industry trades publication to cover this evolving story. Ironically, this collaboration initiated with a well-intended FaceBook post by Handy to recruit black editors as an assist to post supervisors looking to address a lack of diversity in their staffing. The ensuing exchange devolved into a racially charged discussion that included rants from several high-profile white film editors who interpreted Handy's efforts to source professional editors of color as 'reverse racism.' The outcry from a cyber culture made more intolerant of perceived white privilege or hate speech in public social media forums in the days following the tragic death of George Floyd was immediate -- Handy's post and the subsequent remarks went viral, and sparked a media firestorm. Seeking to offer solutions rather than simply making demands, Handy looked for guidance from the nation's oldest Black advocacy group focused on issues of employment, the Urban League. The result is a commitment to mentor, train, and employ Black and minority young adults to work in Hollywood. The aim of this historic alliance is to address Hollywood's lack of diversity, at all levels of the business, as a systemic issue requiring immediate and proven solutions to effect lasting change. "Inequity in BTL careers requires a multi-faceted solution involving production companies, studios, unions, and training providers," says Brian Williams, Los Angeles Urban League chief of operations. "We're finally bringing all of these elements together to move the needle, and to do it at scale." Attorney Nicole French's Twitter post ignited the firestorm of debate on reverse racism. Handy facilitated a conversation between Williams and the national executive director of the Motion Picture Editors Guild (IATSE Local 700), Cathy Repola, to begin a dialogue on ways to effectively impact diversity hiring in Hollywood. A vital component of the Backstage Careers program is providing participants with unique access to mentors and opportunities to learn specialized craft and trade skills from industry professionals who are masters in their respective fields. Repola and the Editors Guild will support Backstage Careers by recruiting trainers, mentors and program speakers from among guild membership. The goal is to create a space for learning to occur, and relationships to be cultivated and nurtured. "As a union, we remain committed to enhancing our outreach to programs and schools that serve all communities, especially those who might not otherwise have opportunities to be exposed to the array of jobs with our jurisdiction so they can envision a career path they may not have known existed or believed was possible," says Repola. LA Urban League COO, Brian Williams, officially launched Backstage Careers Program at Los Angeles City College surrounded by students from Better Youth and representatives from Hillman Grad Productions, Los Angeles County, and Los Angeles City College's cinema and television department. Armed with a list of over 300 Black editors, for Handy the first order of business is to start connecting people with the representatives from companies like eOne, Fremantle, and Paramount, who have contacted him about job opportunities. "The response has been awesome, it's very exciting to have these conversations," says Handy. "Hiring mangers from Viacom, Tyler Perry Studios, Netflix, NBCUniversal, CBS, and so many more have reached out to me directly, or have downloaded the Black Editors list." Ri-Karlo Handy is founder and CEO of Sunwise Media, a production company based in Pasadena, CA. In many ways, the Backstage Careers Program represents a formalization of what Handy set out to accomplish with his post, to connect good people with great job opportunities. The companies contacting Handy will now join a rapidly-expanding list that currently support cohorts in the Backstage Careers Program like Adobe, AT&T, Disney, AEG, and the Grammy Museum Foundation. "As long as I have known Ri-Karlo, he's always been a leader in the industry providing opportunities and mentorship for black producers and creative talent," said Tara Long, eOne's President, Global Unscripted, Television. "I have the utmost respect and admiration for Ri-Karlo, and along with eOne, we are proud to support his ongoing success and achievements. The Urban League, flanked by program partners Better Youth, Los Angeles City College (LACC), and Hillman Grad Productions, launched the Backstage Careers program at a press conference held February 21. The pilot program enrolled seven cohorts, most of them foster youth, at LACC. When COVID-19 hit the courses were cancelled due to quarantine. However, by working closely with their cohort managers at Better Youth, the students stayed engaged with Backstage Careers through the shutdown, producing content for the Urban League, and delivering a virtual film festival as a fundraiser for CASA LA. "Quarantine presented every possible impediment for our cohorts and we worried it would end the still emerging program," says Darren D. Dickerson the advisory board chair for Better Youth. "Instead, the way our cohorts responded validated the program's effectiveness and now we are scaling to broadening the scope." To receive more information about planned diversity in Hollywood activities, events, or to lend your support, please click here to get started. ### Please contact Tosha Whitten-Griggs via email at frontpagefirm@icloud.com or Darren D. Dickerson at darrentpr@gmail.com to schedule interviews. ABOUT LOS ANGELES URBAN LEAGUE Los Angeles Urban League is entering its 100th year of serving the Black community and other disadvantaged people in Los Angeles, as an affiliate of the National Urban League. From our headquarters on Crenshaw Boulevard in South Los Angeles, the League conducts job training and educational enrichment programs, helps small businesses to grow and thrive, and advocates on issues and policies that affect the under-represented and underutilized populations of Los Angeles. Our clients include people of color; women; foster youth; re-entry and justice-involved persons; LGBTQIA individuals; veterans; the elderly and disabled; and any resident who needs a helping hand. Website: See Link/ ABOUT BACKSTAGE CAREERS The Backstage Careers Program offers TV, film, and recording industry classroom training and practical employment opportunities to diverse young adults. The Program provides supportive services - transportation, books, tools, tuition and union dues - to enable trainees who have financial challenges and disadvantaged backgrounds to take advantage of career opportunities in the lucrative, rapidly-growing, and ever-evolving entertainment industry. Additionally, some trainees earn college credit and training certification through coursework and practical training at Los Angeles City College. Other students get hands-on training working with industry professionals in cosmetology, hair and makeup; or visual effects, editing, and design. Website: See Link/backstage-careers/ ABOUT THE HANDY FOUNDATION The Handy Foundation, founded by Ri-Karlo Handy CEO of Sunwise Media was initially started to host creative workshops for editors, writers, and producers looking to develop TV Shows. Now we are joining forces with The Urban League, to foster programs that focus on training and career advancement for below the line positions. Additionally, we continue to expand on our efforts to foster mentorship with the goal to create a bridge between education and training organizations and companies that can hire them. Website: See Link/ ABOUT BETTER YOUTH Better Youth, a creative development agency for urban youth ages 14-24, serves as an outreach and recruitment arm for the Backstage Careers Program. Better Youth is a bridge to the entertainment industry for vulnerable youth (low-income, homeless, foster and former foster youth). The agency supplies youth from its program for training, mentoring, and job placement. Better Youth provides hands-on training working, coupled with counseling and transitional living services designed to place foster and former foster youth on a professional development and career track to change their life trajectory. Website: See Link/ More.../

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