EXCLUSIVE: Danni Conner, Trevite Willis, Avril Speaks, Adetoro Makinde, Letitia Guillory, Ashley Chrisman, and Jessica Funches has been named the 2020 fellows for The Blackhouse Foundation’s 2nd annual Multicultural Producers Lab. The program highlights seven accomplished Black female producers responsible for fiction and nonfiction projects, showcasing the best-of-the-best in film and television.
Blackhouse Foundation launched the program last year with a mission to expand the number of multicultural production companies and executives, to increase their pipeline of content, and to support the sustainability of mid-career independent producers and the scale at which their projects and businesses operate.
In light of the current global pandemic program, this year’s program will consist of virtual symposiums, online workshops, and feedback sessions. Starting on Feb. 5th through the 9th, the 2020 fellows will have the opportunity to engage in in-person industry meetings and a pitch fest to showcase their projects to film studios, networks, production companies, agencies, and management companies.
This year’s lab leaders are Mekita Faiye Manager of Original Movies at Lifetime Television and Roxanne Taylor of Hidden Empire Film Group.
Dolly Turner, board member and director of the Blackhouse Multicultural Producers Fellowship, who developed the program with Carol Ann Shine, co-founder of The Blackhouse Foundation, said, “There is an amazing African American talent pool above the line, below the line, and in your executive ranks that will deliver creatively, in ratings, in streams, downloads, at the box office, and to your bottom line. We believe our program delivers a creative triple play by expanding the number of women-owned companies and senior executives who are more likely to hire women directors and support women-led stories. We are thrilled to be working with WarnerMedia and SAGindie who are industry leaders in diversity and have a long history and commitment to supporting storytellers.”
2020 Blackhouse Multicultural Producers Lab Fellows:
Adetoro Makinde: Project: The American Can (Action Drama Feature) – Based on a true story, a Marine veteran confronts his inner demons and a racial standoff to save people in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Danni Conner: Project: Grown Woman Shit (Framed Dramedy Series) – Della Rae, publicist to the stars, struggles to take care of her grown children, parents, and work while trying to solve the mystery behind a UFO encounter she had as a child.
Trevite Willis: Project: Black Voters Matter (Feature Documentary) – With the polarizing 2020 election approaching, the Black Voters Matter documentary follows the Black Voters Matter Fund founders Cliff Albright and LaTosha Brown as they tour the country attempting to boost black voter turnout and fight against voter suppression.
Avril Speaks: Project: Black America Is (Documentary Series) – Black America Is… is an ongoing conversation by Black people, about the Black experience that is specific to life in the United States of America.
Letitia Guillory: Project: Hound Dog (Crime Drama Feature Narrative) – When a troubled 1950s R&B star dies under suspicious circumstances, his impresario producer must find the culprit to save his label and his life.
Ashley Chrisman: Project: The Homesick (Thriller Narrative Feature) – While on vacation in Cape Coast, Ghana, a man’s plan to propose to his girlfriend gets derailed after his younger brother drags them into a wager awaking the haunted past of one of West Africa’s oldest slave castles.
Jessica Funches: Project: And This Is Life (Dramatic Series) – Scandals and lies threaten a couple’s perfect life. The evolution of their family mirrors the evolution of our country. Growing pains may rip them both apart.