New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito has announced a $625,000 grant to the Bronx’s Ghetto Film School to launch The Roster, a new citywide creative sector diversity initiative to advance young, diverse talent in various creative fields. The Roster will expand Ghetto Film School’s current alumni pre-professional training to bring together key industry and creative partners in New York City across film, television, media, advertising, and technology, including the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, the Independent Filmmaker Project in Brooklyn, Tribeca Film Institute in Manhattan, and others.
The Roster will provide employers with one-stop access to the most comprehensive talent platform of diverse individuals for full-time, part-time, and freelance jobs, reaching New York’s creative industries including broadcast, film, television, digital, advertising, gaming, and new content platforms. The Roster’s design achieves two fundamental objectives: leveling the playing field for talent to access opportunities within the creative industries and providing companies with pathways for identifying and investing in more diverse qualified candidates.
Programs will connect emerging creative talent with New York’s most important sectors for film, digital, games, advertising, broadcast, creative tech and new platforms. Curated exclusive events will serve as showcases for diverse talent using media, comedy, music and other creative hooks. The Roster’s approach ensures a curatorial level of excellence that goes beyond more staid networking/business card exchanges. At scale, The Roster will serve as the single largest repository of diverse early career talent working across New York City’s creative sectors, functioning as a go to list for all of the creative industries looking across the board to develop and strengthen their commitment to building diverse teams and content.
The press conference was held at Wieden+Kennedy, with remarks by Speaker Mark-Viverito, Ghetto Film School’s board chair, NBCU digital enterprises executive vice president Evan Shapiro, Wieden+Kennedy’s managing director Neal Arthur, and Ghetto Film School’s founder and president Joe Hall.
Speaker Mark-Viverito said about the decision to give the grant, “New York is a global hub for the bold and creative, home to some of the world’s most vibrant talent. Our broad media sector, which includes entertainment, advertising, film, TV, technology, and more, also provides thousands of New Yorkers with strong, stable, and well-paying jobs. On behalf of the New York City Council, I am proud to partner with Ghetto Film School to announce The Roster to advance young, diverse talent in these creative fields. So much of New York City’s emerging talent is found in communities whose access to our growing media industry is limited, and we must ensure that opportunities in the sectors are available to New Yorkers across the five boroughs. The Roster will be a go-to resource for employers and young people alike, and I look forward to their contributions to our city’s vibrant storytelling.”
NBCU’s Shapiro remarked that, “For fifteen years, Ghetto Film School has been a leader in developing young, diverse talent for the media industry. The Roster is the next natural step in our quest to increase diversity in our industry and inject new voices into the culture.”
“The ad industry, all the creative industries, are in this exciting time of flux right now. More than ever, there’s a need for new ideas,” says Wieden+Kennedy’s Arthur. “GFS has become a real resource for bringing new ideas and new people into creative companies, and making sure they thrive once they’re there. It’s been rewarding to see this organization grow its mandate and now to see it move to the next level with the help of the city and all these great supporters.”
Anna Ponder, executive director or Tribeca Film Institute said, “As part of TFI’s year-round work supporting storytellers of all ages and at all phases of their careers, we are thrilled to partner with Ghetto Film School on The Roster and to engage actively in the development of such a valuable tool to promote young content creators.”
Sheril Antonio, academic associate dean of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, said, “The time has come for us to do more than talk about the need for diversity in our film and television industries. It is now time for action and I could not think of a better group to get things moving.”
Joe Hall, founder and president of Ghetto Film School said, “Since its inception, Ghetto Film School has been a leader in cultivating young artistic talent. It’s time we offer them the chance for the greatest possible professional success in an ever-changing landscape. The Roster offers GFS alumni, as well as other undergraduate, and graduate programs, a real chance at professional fulfillment, while also actively engaging with our corporate partners to truly understand and address their needs.”
"The Made in NY Media Center by IFP is excited to partner with the Ghetto Film School on this new initiative," said Joana Vicente, executive director, IFP and the Made in NY Media by IFP. "Fostering new and diverse talent in media, entrepreneurship, and tech is at the core of our mission, and The Roster will provide the access and connections that are integral for these talented creators to be successful."
The Roster will launch in 2016. Additional staff and partnerships will be announced at a later date.