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Streaming Innovation Alliance Looks to Spotlight Black Storytelling in Hollywood

Streaming Innovation Alliance

Just over the last five to ten years, streaming exploded as a new medium for storytelling. While the theatrical market remains strong for big blockbuster films, gone are the days of looking for VHSs and DVDs to watch our favorite movies and shows. As the way we consume television and movies evolves, streaming has now become king. As a result, there are fewer barriers for Black storytelling to reach audiences.

 

Despite those opportunities, Black stories seem to once again get the short end of the stick. We have witnessed an influx of stories created by our community get canceled or not receive the support of major marketing budgets. And while the struggle continues from emerging filmmakers to Oscar-nominated Black stars, the struggle for representation, respect, access and fair pay continues.

 

As the streaming business grows, there is an opportunity to change that. The Motion Picture Association (MPA) is on the frontlines of this work to ensure Black Hollywood has a seat at the table to shape the future of storytelling. With the new development of the Streaming Innovation Alliance, the MPA has a mission to focus and unite independent streamers including AfroLandTV, For Us By Us Network, America Nu Network and Vault Access, by bringing them together with legacy studios including Disney, Paramount, Netflix, Sony Pictures, Universal and Warner Bros. Discovery. Together, these companies plan to drive forward a new era of creativity, opportunity, value and choice in home and mobile entertainment. 

 

The Streaming Innovation Alliance serves as a pivotal force driving the future of entertainment by championing diversity through the inclusion of independent multicultural platforms,” says John Gibson, vice president of external and multicultural affairs at Motion Picture Association. “It’s shaping a more inclusive and vibrant streaming landscape."


Given the high visibility of Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, Peacock, Paramount+, MAX and others, this program is the first time that the platforms dedicated to Black storytelling will join together with the majors to determine the future of the larger entertainment industry. By advocating for smart policies that will support innovative streaming services and the viewers who love and depend on them, a new era of streaming is upon us. 

 

We spoke to the founders and executives of these independent streaming services to discuss the importance of the new alliance, Black storytelling and more.


J.Alexander Martin 

CEO For Us By Us Network 


Streaming Innovation Alliance - J. Alexander Martin

Why was it important for your company to be a part of the Streaming Innovation Alliance, and how does it feel to be at the table with these larger legacy companies?


It was very important for “For Us By Us Network” to be among these prestigious streaming platforms. For Us By Us Network is the acronym for Fubu. Fubu stands for the African American multiCultural demographics plight. Fubu is the quintessential Black-owned company. By being a part of SIA, the culture has a seat at the table and can finally start having a voice in the media. For so long our stories have been told by other voices, now it can come and be legislated by us. 


Tell us the Power of Black storytelling.


He who controls the media, controls the world. The best person to tell your story is the person that the story is about. I wouldn’t be the best person to write “Schindler’s List” over “Boyz N the Hood.” Fubu has been in business for over 30 years because we are the consumer. I’ve taken the same concept for For Us By Us Network by telling stories that matter to us and that are For Us By Us. 


How does your company empower Black filmmakers and creators, and what initiatives do you have in place to support emerging talent?


For Us By Us Network is in talks to build a 311k film studio in New Jersey, offering space for independent filmmakers and podcasters. We also have direct distribution deals with Pluto, Cineverse and YouTube. We can also be seen on all the major platforms. We are AVod which offers a profit-sharing business model to content providers. 


Omarr A. Salgado

Head of Acquisitions

American Nu Network 


Streaming Innovation Alliance - Omarr A. Salgado

Why was it important for your company to be a part of the Streaming Innovation Alliance, and how does it feel to be at the table with these larger legacy companies?


Being a part of the Streaming Innovation Alliance is crucial as it cultivates collaborative efforts, propelling technological evolution within the industry. Sitting at the table with larger legacy companies provides a unique opportunity to contribute, learn, and shape the future collectively. It's a dynamic synergy where diverse perspectives converge, and fostering an environment that transcends individual achievements, contributing to a richer tapestry of innovation. Additionally, members can leverage resources, share best practices, and collectively address challenges, creating a dynamic ecosystem for sustained innovation within the streaming industry.


Tell us the Power of Black storytelling.


Within the landscape of cinema, Black storytelling takes center stage, presenting a powerful narrative that explores themes of resilience, triumph, and identity. Through the lens of film, this storytelling medium transforms into a captivating alchemy, weaving together history, culture, and aspirations. Each cinematic story extends an invitation for audiences to comprehend, empathize, and appreciate the intricate layers of the black experience. These narratives in film serve as a force that transcends boundaries, fostering unity and challenging societal preconceptions. In the hands of filmmakers, black stories become a dynamic catalyst for social change, empowering both creators and viewers to confront, celebrate, and reshape the ongoing chapters of this cinematic journey.


How does your company empower Black filmmakers and creators, and what initiatives do you have in place to support emerging talent?


As a streaming platform committed to inclusivity and diversity, America Nu Network is dedicated to empowering Black filmmakers and creators through a multifaceted approach. Mentorship initiatives are a cornerstone of our commitment. We actively seek partnerships with experienced industry professionals to guide and inspire emerging Black talent. This mentorship extends beyond just the creative process, encompassing the intricacies of navigating the industry landscape.


Our content curation strategy is deliberately inclusive, with a focus on amplifying diverse narratives that may have been historically underrepresented. By actively seeking out and promoting content from Black creators, we strive to create a platform that authentically reflects the richness and variety of storytelling within the Black community.


Furthermore, community building is integral to our initiatives. We aim to foster a supportive network where emerging talent can connect, collaborate, and share experiences. This sense of belonging is crucial for the holistic development of artists, providing not only professional support but also a platform for cultural exchange.

In summary, our streaming platform is dedicated to creating a comprehensive ecosystem that not only provides support but also mentors, curates, and builds a community for Black filmmakers and creators to thrive.


Kenneth Gifford

Founder/CEO

Vault Access 


Streaming Innovation Alliance - Kenneth Gifford

Why was it important for your company to be a part of the Streaming Innovation Alliance, and how does it feel to be at the table with these larger legacy companies?


It’s important for my company to be a part of the SIA because my Vault Access brings a wealth of diversity to the alliance. It’s important to bring the independent side of the industry and the voice of the community to an organization that focuses on and brings awareness to laws that affect us all. It feels amazing to be in the presence of such legacy companies, it’s important to see us at the table and it’s important for people like us to see it as well. Being at the table means the needle is moving in the right direction.


Tell us the Power of Black storytelling.


The power of Black storytelling is the power of us, it’s the power of community and the power of family. The power of Black storytelling is the power of reliving and creating history of generations of beautiful souls by the families of those souls. The power of Black storytelling is being the keeper of our joy and our pain, it’s being the keeper of everything that our families have been built on and being the ones to tell the story from the ones who’ve lived it. The power of Black storytelling is being in control of the jewels that our ancestors have left us and being able to spread those jewels to the world.


How does your company empower Black filmmakers and creators, and what initiatives do you have in place to support emerging talent?


My company empowers Black filmmakers and creatives by helping them maximize their true potential and letting them know their true value. Filmmakers and creatives aren’t just clients with us, they are partners and friends. Through VAULT we don’t just offer distribution, we offer funding for productions, we offer studio space, and use equipment that they may not otherwise have access to. We also have free training programs for filmmakers and crew so that they are able to grow in the industry and get hands-on experience no matter what position you may want to explore. Another initiative that we offer is our script-to-screen program, where we help creatives start their filmmaking journey from beginning to end. We put creatives with industry leaders in every field at every step of the way so that they are able to make their dreams a reality.


Michael Maponga 

CEO 

AfroLand TV


Streaming Innovation Alliance - Michael Maponga

Why was it important for your company to be a part of the Streaming Innovation Alliance, and how does it feel to be at the table with these larger legacy companies?


We need to be in rooms where laws are made that can impact our people. Hollywood knows how valuable Black audiences are, so we need to be in there.


Tell us the Power of Black storytelling.


It's important for us to control our narrative and the distribution of those stories. Owning both is non-negotiable, we can't have one or the other.


How does your company empower Black filmmakers and creators, and what initiatives do you have in place to support emerging talent?


We have a network that empowers Black creators to reach Black audiences authentically. We bring advertising dollars to our storytellers to continue telling their stories and keeping the Black dollar circulating in our neighborhoods. We're proud to have brought back hundreds of thousands of dollars to Black creators for their content since 2021.

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