Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Ava DuVernay Launches Inclusive Database of Below-the-Line Talent

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Ava DuVernay has announced her latest effort to give Hollywood a much-needed makeover. The Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning multi-hyphenate has “assembled a database of below-the-line talent designed to bridge the hiring gap for women and people of color in the entertainment industry” via Array Alliance, the nonprofit arm of her company Array. The Los Angeles Times confirmed the news.

Known as Array Crew, the iniative, which is currently in a soft launch stage, aims “to be a resource for executives and hiring managers throughout Hollywood amid the ongoing push for more inclusive crews.”

The “When They See Us” creator, director, and showrunner teamed up with Warner Bros. TV executive Peter Roth on the project.  DuVernay is under a $100 million multi-year deal with the studio.

Sony, Netflix, and Disney have signed on to Array Crew and invested in it. Every studio has access to the service.

Described as “IMDb meets LinkedIn,” Array Crew’s searchable database already features 2,500 profiles, which “can be sorted by crew position, experience, location, and more.”

DuVernay and Roth discussed Array Crew in conversation with the source.

“The genesis of it was a lot smaller than it is now,” DuVernay explains. “And Peter has a lot to do with that. We thought: ‘Oh, let’s just put together names of a bunch of people that we know — like everyone else in town, make a list.’ There’s all these lists that people have … literally, like little pieces of paper. You ask, ‘Can I see the list?’ Everyone has one. CAA has one. But they weren’t together in one [omnibus list]. So, the first thing we thought about is: ‘Let’s go to everyone and say, “Hey, why don’t we all put our lists into one kind of spreadsheet, so we have one mega-list.”‘ People weren’t with that. And it’s like, ‘You’re proprietary with those 30 names? Are you serious, that little list, you don’t want to give?’ Fine, we’ll make our own,” the filmmaker recalls. “The first two weeks, we had 500 people on a spreadsheet. After a while it was 750 and then 1,000 and then people calling and hearing about it, and it became a bit of a thing.”

DuVernay continues, “It was really Peter who said: ‘We should contact everyone.’ He helped me think larger in terms of studios taking part in the foundation of it in a way that made it feel like theirs, which was our original idea. He knew, from a business perspective, [the studios] should invest in this so that you feel like it’s yours. And that’s why we are where we are now where it’s not a spreadsheet … It is a tech company with a chief, with a CTO and a full staff and a fully vetted backend that is proprietary that we built from scratch.”

“Selma” and “A Wrinkle in Time” are among DuVernay’s film credits. She made history as the first woman of color to helm a $100 million-plus live-action film with the latter. She received an Oscar nod for “13th,” her documentary linking mass incarceration to slavery. Her packed slate includes HBO Max’s DC comics adaptation “DMZ” and “Sovereign,” a Native American family drama in the works at NBC.

Head over to the Los Angeles Times to read more about Array Crew and how DuVernay believes “there are ways in which forward-thinking people in our industry can shape our culture.”

This post was originally published on Women and Hollywood

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