Building Partnerships to Diversify the Creative Economy – Leadersup

Building Partnerships to Diversify the Creative Economy

Jeffery Wallace Jul 17, 2017

According to British author and media expert John Howkins, the creative economy deals in ideas and money. In 2001, he described it as an economic system where value is based on novel and imaginative qualities rather than traditional resources. Where imagination and ingenuity decide what people want to do and make. And what they want to buy. This type of commerce is based on people’s creative ability to increase the value of ideas and create things of value that make use of imagination in a number of fields, including: advertising, art, architecture, culture, design, entertainment, media and innovation. From graphic designers and artisans to movie directors and production assistants in Los Angeles, jobs in this sector will only continue to grow and are increasingly important to the economic well-being of California.

I’m excited to announce that LeadersUp is piloting an initiative to help address the need to diversify and create on-ramps into the creative economy for young adults in Los Angeles. We are partnering with James Bland Productions, a leading creative agency and the production company behind “Giants,” the hit web series, for the launch of our first internship program focused on the entertainment arena of the creative economy. This opportunity will place young adults of color on production teams for Giants The Series: Season 2. During the entire production schedule (including editing) our interns will learn technical production skills and be exposed to a network of creative professionals to help guide and train them on their path to creative work.

Please welcome: Chloe Myers, Jacob Gray, and Terrell Bradford, the first LeadersUp and “Giants” production team interns.

Chloe Meyers is a recent graduate of University of Central Florida where she focused on screenwriting.

Jacob Gray is a senior at California State University, Long Beach, majoring in Film and Electronic Arts.

Terrell Bradford comes to the team with military experience, a technical background, and a passion for film. He is currently a student at The Los Angeles Film School.

LeadersUp + Giants Interns

Through our partnership with “Giants,” LeadersUp will test potential avenues for career exploration and connection for Opportunity Youth (young adults ages 18 to 24 years old that are out of school and out of work) who want to get a start in the entertainment business. By sharing their experiences via digital content; with blogs, video logs, and social media posts; Chloe, Jacob and Terrell will provide a firsthand account of how they are navigating the entertainment industry and show the progression of skills acquired during their internships. Check out the Giants Create page here to check out their content each week. Screen Shot 2017-07-14 at 2.07.37 PM

For James Bland, founder of James Bland Productions and the creator of “Giants,” extending opportunities for young people to gain access to coveted positions in the creative economy is about true inclusivity. James explained:

The entertainment industry can feel like an exclusive clubhouse with doors that are closed to people that look like me. Instead of complaining, I built my own house and I left the doors open. I’m excited to partner with LeadersUp to provide production internships for young people that may not get this opportunity elsewhere. Everybody needs a start. These young people will have the opportunity to jump-start their careers on a set full of filmmakers-of-color who believe in collaborative creation and developing the next generation of storytellers.

Why Is It Important to Create Opportunities in the Creative Industry?

The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation projects employment in the creative industry in the LA region to grow by 5.2% from 2015 to 2020, with the largest percentage gains occurring in industries with a strong technology component like digital media and communication arts.

Increasing diversity in business is both morally right and a key to financial success. According to insights from McKinsey and Company, there is a correlation with companies that are in the top quartile in either gender or ethnic diversity – being more likely to have profits above the national median within their industry.[1] Overall, employment in the arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media industry is projected to grow by 4.1% between 2014-2024, totaling approximately 107,500 jobs[2] in an industry that is nearly 75% white[3].

IMG_7316To develop, create, and market goods that will be successful in the economy; any business—but especially those within the creative industry—must understand their consumers; their likes and dislikes; and how to reach them in the most efficient ways. If creative organizations are unable to effectively and accurately understand their target audience, they may miss the mark and fail to develop products that resonate with the increasing multi-cultural consumer base in the United States.

Multicultural buying power has grown 415% over the last two decades, proving that while our population grows in diversity; and advertising, arts, entertainment and media continue to contribute to the GDP – the urgency of addressing issues of growing diversity and its relationship between individuals, business, and society also increases. Artists are influenced by their environment and by what they see in their communities – this is what constructs their work. So for the creative industry to continue to thrive and grow – we must also diversify the creative workforce. Because a multi-cultural, multi-racial population will create the future – we want to ensure that young people of color are included and have access to the creative workforce.

IMG_7295If an emerging production company backed by Hollywood’s rising stars Issa Rae and Jussie Smollett can intentionally cultivate the next generation of creative workers; then imagine the transformative impact that can be achieved in diversifying access to opportunity when larger production companies and networks make the same commitment.

“Giants” follows three millennials of color in search of their purpose as they overcome issues of mental health, sexual identity, and economic survival. Similar to the characters on the show, Chloe, Jacob and Terrell are challenging the barriers they face as they pursue their creative ambitions. We invite you to join us on this journey. We will share updates and highlights here every Tuesday, or visit our LeadersUp Instagram and Facebook pages for additional perspectives. If you need to catch up for season two of “Giants”, you can view all episodes here.

In Service,

Jeffery Wallace




[3] US Census Table B24010 (Sex by Occupation for the Civilian Employed Population 16 Years and Over)

About the Author

Jeffery Wallace

Jeffery T. D. Wallace, President and CEO, LeadersUp