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Feminist Lens: Cheryl L. Bedford’s Vision for a Diverse and Inclusive Hollywood

The Feminist Lens collection presents an inside look into the world of film-making and media manufacturing by way of conversations between ladies within the movie, tv and digital media trade and Aviva Dove-Viebahn, a Ms. scholar and professor who writes about gender and race in widespread tradition.


Cheryl L. Bedford , founding father of JTC Listing—a frequently up to date record of WOC working in movie and tv—and Girls of Colour Unite, which advocates for girls of colour content material creators and crew. (The JTC Listing)

Founding father of the biggest—and one of many solely—variety and inclusion initiatives centered completely on ladies of colour within the movie and tv trade, Cheryl L. Bedford sees no use in sustaining the established order.

With a BFA from New York College’s Tisch College of the Arts, an MFA from The American Movie Institute, and twenty years of expertise as a producer, line producer and manufacturing supervisor, Bedford has the trade savvy, dedication and great energy of will to see and enact the modifications the remainder of Hollywood must embrace.

Bedford’s group, Girls of Colour Unite, started as a comparatively small networking occasion; invites enjoined, “Girls of Colour…UNITE,” and Bedford funded the occasion herself—due to her deep perception that girls of colour wanted a spot to satisfy and assist one another.

Now, a number of quick years later, WOCU has over 800 members and serves as a “social motion group specializing in honest entry, honest therapy and honest pay for girls of colour in all features of the leisure and media industries,” in line with its mission assertion. This contains advocating for, selling, educating and amplifying ladies of colour content material creators and crew.

As a part of WOCU, Bedford and her devoted crew additionally run The JTC Listing (on Twitter: @TheJTCList), a frequently up to date record of WOC working in movie and tv in just about each capability, so these trying to rent can’t ever say they couldn’t discover a lady of colour who may do the job.

At the moment, WOCU is partnering with The Bitch Pack (on Twitter: @BiatchPack) for the thrilling #StartWith8Hollywood marketing campaign, a variety and inclusion initiative which challenges established trade people to decide to mentoring not less than eight ladies of colour.

This interview came about in two components, in October 2019 and June 2020. Within the curiosity of full disclosure, the writer is presently working with Bedford’s manufacturing firm on a venture.

Feminist Lens: Cheryl L. Bedford's Vision for a Diverse and Inclusive Hollywood
Cheryl L. Bedford

Aviva Dove-Viebahn: You’ve spoken elsewhere about how troublesome it was for you, once you first got here to Los Angeles, to get invited to, and even enter the areas, the place networking and hiring was happening. Inform me concerning the means of beginning Girls of Colour Unite and The JTC Listing.

Cheryl L. Bedford: My pals tease me as a result of I all the time say that I didn’t imply to turn out to be the chief of a grassroots motion, however that’s what I did.

My mother handed away in 2016. My mom was my finest buddy; she was an activist. A few years after she handed away, I suppose I simply wished to observe in her footsteps. She marched on Washington. She marched for a lady’s proper to decide on. She’s from Baltimore—my mom may march!  And that’s how I grew up. I wished to honor her legacy. Therefore why the record is named The JTC record [named after Cheryl’s mother, Joan Theresa Curtis].

Later we turned the group right into a non-profit.  I needed to give you a reputation and I went again to what the invite mentioned: Girls of Colour Unite.

I’m not the kind of one who will sit round and complain about one thing with out motion. So, I threw this occasion and invited 150 ladies of colour—I used my tax refund and my financial savings to do it; they didn’t should pay for something—for us to get to know one another. I believe one of many causes that the trade has not modified quite a bit is as a result of we’re not all in a room collectively. I wished to make it possible for no lady was turned away and I employed all ladies of colour to run the occasion—even the caterers and sommelier. I simply wished to point out that there are ladies of colour in all places doing every part. The primary takeaway was that girls of colour need to assist different ladies of colour.

One lady mentioned she wanted a [director of photography] and employed somebody proper there that day. So, we created the JTC record on the spot, a few hundred ladies signed up, after which it simply grew.

Feminist Lens: Cheryl L. Bedford's Vision for a Diverse and Inclusive Hollywood
WOCU Gala volunteers and employees.

ADV: Do you may have a favourite JTC record success story—a connection you helped make that you simply’re actually pleased with?

CLB: We truly needed to create a piece on our personal platform for achievement tales, as a result of I’d go onto our Fb web page and see successful story I didn’t even learn about. Girls have gotten their content material distributed. Folks have been employed to jot down function movies; I do know somebody who simply signed a contract yesterday. Getting employed. Getting their venture funded. All the things that we are saying, we have now to begin monitoring it.

It’s not one factor: It’s the truth that we needed to begin maintaining monitor of the successes as a result of there have been so many. That’s one of many issues that I’m most pleased with.  It really works as a result of it’s widespread sense.

I didn’t do something particular. Everyone has privilege—colorism, ageism, sizeism—all of us have privilege. I’ve two distinct privileges. Primary, that my mom was Joan Theresa Curtis. Two, that I perceive the tutorial privileges that I had.

Folks within the trade ask, “What’s your superpower?” I simply see issues coming. It’s actually simply deduction. I didn’t do something particular. After I created this record, I knew that lists alone don’t work; you may’t get somebody to randomly rent somebody off a listing. So what was necessary to me was to get the ladies on the record in the identical room with those that may rent them. It didn’t imply that individuals may get a job proper then and there; it meant that individuals would start to belief the record.  That’s the key, however I don’t suppose it’s a secret.

The logical human response is to rent those who ; I need those who I do know and belief and like. It’s the identical manner {that a} buddy can advocate a buddy of a buddy and also you’ll rent that individual. So it actually got here all the way down to having individuals belief the record.

We not often get these alternatives, so once we get it, as soon as we’re within the room, we’re on it.  I’ve but to have anyone say: I employed anyone from the record, and so they weren’t that good.

Someplace alongside the road, I modified what I used to say. I used to say that girls of colour have to work twice as arduous to be thought-about half pretty much as good; that’s what I used to be instructed as I used to be rising up. Now, I say that girls of colour ought to be capable of be like mediocre white males and nonetheless get employed.

Girls of colour maintain themselves to the next normal when making use of for jobs—and that’s how locations are hiring, too. So, once I say that I need ladies of colour to have the ability to be like mediocre white boys, I’m not saying that they need to be mediocre at their jobs. What I’m saying is “mediocre” is the median; there are people who find themselves higher and people who find themselves worse. I need ladies of colour to have the ability to be within the center and nonetheless get employed. We shouldn’t be competing with the white males who apply even after they’re not as certified.

After I discuss to studios and manufacturing firms, I ask them, “What are your actions? What actions are you going to take [to fix this disparity]?” I assist plan actions for studios and firms for the way to get extra numerous of their hiring.

Feminist Lens: Cheryl L. Bedford's Vision for a Diverse and Inclusive Hollywood
Left to Proper: Cheryl L. Bedford, Effie Brown, and Fanshen Cox at a gala.

ADV: Are you able to inform me slightly bit extra about a few of these actions?

CLB: I’m this bizarre hybrid as a result of most firms have a variety and inclusion division—they work in HR—however manufacturing is separate. Folks in HR don’t perceive manufacturing, so I observed that there was a niche since most variety and inclusion packages take care of above-the-line crew (administrators, producers, writers). Only a few persons are speaking about below-the-line crew, so I slid into that hole as a result of I used to be the primary chair of variety improvement at New York Movie Academy-Los Angeles.  I perceive HR and, being a producer and, extra particularly, a line producer. I do know manufacturing.


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ADV: Why is it necessary to advocate for each above-the-line and below-the-line WOC working in movie and TV?

CLB: There’s one large manner you may inform that different initiatives supporting ladies within the trade [mostly not focusing on women of color] don’t truly perceive the way in which manufacturing works: Line producers aren’t included.

I’m a line producer. What’s a line producer’s job? To rent all of the heads of departments. How will you not embody the one who hires for all the opposite departments? When a girl of colour is in cost, we rent the way in which the world seems to be. We don’t want a variety and inclusion initiative to do that. We mechanically do it.

So, one of many issues that I’m making an attempt to do is increase cash for what we name the WOCU Seal, Honest Entry, Honest Remedy and Honest Pay. It principally will present that an organization is interviewing and hiring 20 p.c ladies of colour. I’m not asking for something greater than displaying that you simply’re hiring the way in which the world seems to be.

Feminist Lens: Cheryl L. Bedford's Vision for a Diverse and Inclusive Hollywood
#StartWith8Hollywood promotional picture.

ADV: Are you able to discuss slightly bit why your #StartWith8Hollywood initiative, in partnership with Bitch Pack, is a crucial subsequent step?

CLB: That was Thuc Nguyen’s thought [from The Bitch Pack].  She got here out of tech the place she began #StartWith8—with enterprise capitalists agreeing to speak to eight WOC. 

At some point I went on Twitter, and he or she had began #StartWith8Hollywood and tagged me.  I believed okay, right here we go.  It was an ideal storm.  She began it and a few days later the Hollywood Reporter interviewed me.  We had been off and working. 

Girls of Colour Unite had the bigger membership, so I requested for volunteers and folk stepped up. Now, we run the biggest D&I program within the historical past of Hollywood.  All executives, producers, administrators, and many others., should do is to satisfy with eight WOC for 15-60 minutes. 

We began with screenwriters.  Cassian Elwes was the primary to enroll.  Now it has naturally expanded. Mentors should do one substantive factor for the mentee.  Relying on the mentee, it may be learn a script, present recommendation, make an introduction—only one factor to assist eight WOC within the subsequent step of their profession.  We now have over 500 slots.  Mentees simply electronic mail us with a brief bio and their pursuits.  The volunteers match the mentors and mentees. 

Everybody can do one factor for eight individuals.  And now nobody can say they don’t know any ladies of colour as a result of they may know eight.  And it simply retains multiplying.  We are actually the biggest non-profit of WOC with the biggest database.  Not dangerous for 2 and half years later!


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