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Elba, Longoria join ViacomCBS film drive

ViacomCBS’s entertainment and youth group has partnered with a host of talent-led prodcos to develop a slate of original movies with BIPOC and female first-time directors.

Idris Elba (photo: DFID via CC)

Angela Bassett, Idris Elba, Salma Hayek, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, John Leguizamo, Eva Longoria and Courtney B Vance will executive produce the movies through their respective production companies.

ViacomCBS said its Entertainment and Youth (E&Y) Group was doubling down on its commitment to provide opportunities for the next generation of women and BIPOC filmmakers “by partnering with the biggest stars of today to find the biggest stars of tomorrow both in front of and behind the camera.”

It has put out the call for 50 films from first-time directors to tell diverse stories through the lens of diverse storytellers.

The movies will premiere on MTV, Comedy Central and Paramount Network and will be windowed across ViacomCBS’s global footprint and on recently rebranded streamer Paramount+.

Eva Longoria

Talent will work with ViacomCBS E&Y president of content and chief creative officer Nina L Diaz and her team to identify the directors, match them with inclusive projects and mentor them through the filmmaking process.

The production companies include: Bassett and Vance’s Bassett Vance Productions, Elba’s Green Door Pictures, Hayek’s Ventanarosa Productions, Chopra Jonas’s Purple Pebble Pictures, Leguizamo’s Rebel Productions and Longoria’s UnbelieEVAble Entertainment.

These projects fall under ViacomCBS E&Y Group’s recently launched original movies and limited series division, led by Meghan Hooper White, executive VP and head of original movies and limited series.

As previously announced, with a focus on maximising IP and familiar franchises while also creating new IP, this unit will leverage the ViacomCBS portfolio of brands, producing films with ViacomCBS-owned CBS in the US, Channel 5 in the UK, Network 10 in Australia and Paramount+.

Diaz said: “Together, we will give rise to multicultural narratives and voices that resonate with audiences around the world.”

Chopra Jonas added: “Not just the US, but the world, is a melting pot of different races, ethnicities and religions, and the entertainment we consume should reflect the world we actually live in. I am proud to join ViacomCBS Entertainment & Youth Group on this initiative to not only tell diverse stories, but to do so from diverse storytellers.”

Leguizamo said: “I am so honoured and thrilled to partner up with ViacomCBS E&Y to help diversify the industry and help stop the exclusion of Latinx in Hollywood. We Latinx are 17.5% of the US population and 25% of the US box office, but we’re often fewer than 4% of the faces in front of and behind the camera.

“We are also painfully absent in the decision makers’ arena, with less than 1% of executives. So in brief, our stories are not being told by streamers, networks or studios. I believe my collaboration with ViacomCBS E&Y will assure more Latinx talent, writers, directors, directors of photography and crew will get their opportunities to create and exercise their gifts when they would otherwise be unseen and ignored.”

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