Queen Latifah Is First To Partner With New Essence Fund To Develop Film/TV Projects By Creators Of Color

July 16, 2018  |  

NEW ORLEANS, LA – JULY 06: Queen Latifah and ESSENCE Ventures CEO, Richelieu Dennis attend the 2018 Essence Festival presented by Coca-Cola at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on July 6, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Essence)

The annual Essence Fest is, of course, about the turn up. It’s a festival dedicated to celebrating all of the greatness that we black women offer.

So during the festival, Queen Latifah announced that her company, Flavor Unit Entertainment, would be partnering with the Essence Creators and Makers Fund. According to Deadline, they are the first company to partner with the new initiative.

The fund has a $20 million endowment from Essence Ventures, the parent company of Essence Magazine. And those funds will support the development and production of content made by artists of color.

Queen Latifah was excited to share the news, explaining how important Essence has been in her journey to portray authentic stories of color through her company, also founded by Shakim Compere.

“Essence has always celebrated our culture and was there when it was hard to find stories and images for people who look like me,” said Queen Latifah. “Shakim and I have built our business on creating content, whether it be film, television or music, for those very same people. We have realized that although they come from our perspective, these narratives are universal, so for us to join forces is thrilling.”

Flavor Unit Entertainment has produced films like Beauty Shop, The Perfect Holiday, Just Wright and Bessie, as well as HBO’s Life Support, which Queen picked up a Golden Globe award for.

Richelieu Dennis, the founder and chairman of Essence Ventures, made a powerful statement about how important it is for black financiers to support black projects.

“The real value in content creation is ownership, and if you look at the funding challenges that creators and makers of color have – whether in film, television or other verticals – they are not getting the capital needed to develop projects,” he said. “More importantly, they are not getting equity in the projects that they are creating. This results in a structure where they basically become work-for-hire rather than equity partners in the content that is driven by their creative ideas and energy around our culture. They are at the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to the economics, and that has to change.  We and our partners will be focused on creating an ecosystem that does just that and elevates opportunities for the creators and makers who need it most.”

I am looking forward to seeing what other black industry big wigs step up to the plate, along with seeing all of the great content that is born from this partnership.

Renese spends her early mornings writing, her days securing insurance for TV shows, and her in-betweens blogging about the silliness and seriousness of life on her blog. Follow Renese on Twitter: @reneseford

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