Please wait...
Please wait...

C21’s Big Picture is an ongoing initiative to support positive change in and through the content business across four key areas of focus: inclusivity & diversity, sustainability & environment, business practice & operations, and content & storytelling.

‘I feel it’s my mission to uplift and educate others’

Steven Adams is founding partner at LA-based Alta Global Media, which provides management, production, strategy, marketing and publicity for international media companies and creative talent seeking to access the US entertainment market.

Adams’s credits include Rodney King on Netflix

Do you have a specific stated mission with regards to the four verticals within The Big Picture Network: inclusivity & diversity; sustainability & environment; business practice & operations; and content & storytelling?
Diversity has been a hallmark of my career since its inception. I’m proud to have broken barriers in all aspects of my career – sometimes by my mere presence, sometimes by strategy and, occasionally, in the early days, by force. As someone who broke through many, many barriers, I feel it’s my mission to uplift and educate others.
Meanwhile, we’re working hard to encourage sustainable practices on sets, while also pursuing stories that substantiate that aim. Our mission is to be global, strategic and innovative – we feel that entertainment can solve problems by building bridges between cultures. We seek to tell fresh stories that both illuminate and entertain. A big part of our mission is to collaborate across cultures and genres.

What’s the main focus for you?
Our focus is multi-pronged. On one hand, we’re working to respond to the industry shifts, while remaining nimble and effective. On the other hand, we strive to find new ways to empower clients while succeeding in the streaming age. We’re creative, entrepreneurial and tasked with forecasting a way forward in rapidly changing times.

What are the biggest challenges?
At the moment, it’s the contraction of slates and budgets, which is forcing us to find new ways to do business.

Can you give a specific example of a challenge you have faced in this area?
We’re currently exploring new ways to exploit the super-abundance of great IP on multiple platforms and are excited by the potential this offers.

Can you give an example of how you try to influence positive change?
As someone who started their career as one of only four black talent assistants in Hollywood, I feel my presence is a testament to the changes I’ve helped bring about by championing storytellers, opening doors for others, supporting organisations committed to elevating people of colour and women, philanthropy and so on.

What do you find are the most common issues that need to be addressed?
The persistence of unexamined Eurocentric perspectives as the standard on the world stage. Stories need to be told authentically.

Who has impressed you in terms of how they are working to bring about change?
Having worked with independent filmmakers for many, many years, I’ve always been impressed by their persistence in pursuit of their vision and their unwavering faith in their work. And I see the same spirit has moved into television, where artists in the last decade have transformed the landscape into something extraordinary. I call it ‘auteurist television.’

Who do you look to for inspiration?
My father, my grandfather and my great-grandfather, all of whom were men who broke down barriers in their time and whose example remains relevant in the 21st century.

What processes have you worked with to help bring about positive change?
We’re in the process of setting up the Alta Global Media Foundation to support our internship and speaking programmes. I’m a long-time supporter of the Oscar-qualifying Hollyshorts Film Festival and the Blackhouse Foundation, both of which provide opportunities for creatives to amplify their voices and create momentum for their careers. HollyShorts has almost 50% gender parity and features programmes from at least 45 nations every year. The Blackhouse Foundation, meanwhile, has increased the number of black creatives at the Sundance Film Festival from almost zero to a robust number that’s beginning to reflect the American population. I also serve on several other advisory boards. It’s very important to contribute to the culture while you pursue your ambitions.

What resources do you use to help you do your job?
A combination of media sources – C21 being one of them. I read about the fluxes of our industry in the way some people follow the stock market. It helps me make decisions.

Which TV companies or shows do you think are doing things well in terms of meeting the challenge?
It varies from moment to moment. The challenges are so vast these days that it would be hard to point to a clear-cut winner, but Netflix remains one of the chief innovators of our time.

What books or blogs would you advise people to read?
I read Deadline, The Wrap, The Hollywood Reporter, C21, The Ankler, The Wall Street Journal – the list goes on and on. These days, too much information is not enough.

How would you like to see things change in the future?
More diversity in the C-suites and boardrooms of the entertainment industry. I’d like to see more women in positions of power and influence.

If three things could be removed or introduced to help, what would they be?
I’d remove the continued Eurocentric bias and a lot of work that pretends to represent the world but in fact only represents a small part of it. In the US, I’d introduce more incentives to stimulate production – and I’d like to see more international coproduction treaties.

What would you do differently if you were to approach the problem again?
I don’t believe in re-casting the past – I can only apply the lessons I learn to the future, so I won’t make the same mistake twice. And in particular: learning to understand that every crisis is an opportunity in disguise.

What is the best advice you’ve been given?
To approach a difficult situation with multiple solutions.

What advice would you give to someone working in a similar role to you?
Learn as much as you can about the rest of the world, make travel to international festivals a high priority and pay attention to what’s going on in the world, because our job as storytellers is to reflect and explore the reality we all share. Inspiration can come from any corner of the world.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
While pursuing success in entertainment, be sure to pursue a parallel track of self-awareness. Be willing to partner and be respectful of the contributions of those involved in these partnerships. No one is an island.

C21’s Big Picture is an ongoing initiative to support positive change in and through the content business across four key areas of focus: inclusivity & diversity, sustainability & environment, business practice & operations and content & storytelling.


Steven Adams
Steve Adams is an award-winning manager and producer whose credits include Netflix’s Rodney King, Starz’s A Huey P Newton Story and Spike’s Lee duo She’s Gotta Have It and BlacKkKlansman. An accomplished host, he moderates panels at the Motion Picture Academy, Content London and Cannes, and is a frequent speaker at Natpe, the Berlinale, Sundance and Toronto. Adams also coproduced and hosted web series F is for Film and Show Me the F$#!ing Money: How to Invest, Raise Finance & Recoup Money in the Film Business. He previously served as president of financial consultancy FilmPro Finance, having begun his career at the Paradigm Talent and Literary Agency.