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CAA Launches Initiative to Improve Representation in Entertainment (EXCLUSIVE)

Matt Donnelly
·3-min read

Power agency CAA and its eponymous foundation have launched a new program to help storytellers accurately portray marginalized communities and sensitive social issues.

The Full Story Initiative, announced Tuesday, will offer an industry-wide resource to “generate authentic narratives in television and film for a more equitable future,” a mission statement said.

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As an agency, CAA has influence at every level of storytelling, from scripts to financing to (of course) star talent. In partnership with the CAA Foundation, their hope is to connect studios, networks and producers with a non-profit advisory committee that can identify blind spots and offer rounder representation on screen. Full Story will not only target projects at nascent stages and connect them with appropriate experts and advocates, but also offer tools for Hollywood at large. The agency will also develop special internal coverage systems to identify these projects.

“There’s such an increased need and interest in seeing representative content, so how can we build the infrastructure to better connect the two worlds of non-profit organizations and social justice with our storytellers? We know that’s essential to moving the needle on change,” said CAA Foundation’s Maddy Roth.

Tools include topic-specific backgrounder conversations, best practices, glossaries, case studies and video examples of best-in-class portrayals of various social issues and diverse communities, including interviews with issue experts, artists and executives. Organizers behind the initiative saw a notable demand for these tools following nationwide social unrest last summer.

“People were desperate for stories to help their personal evolutions and to learn about communities they interact with. The audience for pieces of material like ‘The 13th’ saw huge viewership jumps after the murder of George Floyd. So we asked, ‘How can we bring more connectivity to this?'” said Ruben Garcia, CAA co-head of cultural business strategy.

Inaugural members of the non-profit advisory committee include the ACLU, GLAAD, Color of Change, Everytown Gun Safety, CAPE (Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment), IllumiNative and Amnesty International. Full Story will also work with these groups to help source ideas from their communities to creatives. A media council, said to be comprised of leading corporations in the space, will be announced at a later date.

Research will also be a key part of the initiatives ongoing outreach, providing those in power with crucial data to help influence the greenlight process. CAA’s Motion Picture Cast Diversity Index recently measured domestic opening weekend box office 2014 to 2019, and found that at every budget level, a cast that is at least 30% non-white outperforms a release that is not. The study also said that among films at the $100 million+ budget level, the cumulative worldwide box office for those with a more diverse cast was $608 million, compared to a $492 million average for less-diverse casts.

The full Non-Profit Advisory Committee:

ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union)
Alzheimer’s Association
Amnesty International
CAPE (Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment)
Caring Across Generations
CCOI: United Nations Creative Community Outreach Initiative*
Center for Scholars & Storytellers
Color of Change
Define American
Everytown for Gun Safety
Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
GLAAD
Harness
Hollywood, Health & Society
HRC (Human Rights Campaign)
IllumiNative,
JED Foundation
MPAC (Muslim Public Affairs Council)
NDWA (National Domestic Workers Alliance)
NHMC (the National Hispanic Media Coalition)
NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council)
PPFA (Planned Parenthood Federation of America)
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)
RespectAbility
Save The Children

Storyline Partners.

*International organization, not a non-profit

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