Issa Rae’s production company, ColorCreative, has signed a multi-picture production deal with Columbia Pictures. The agreement is unique in that under the contract, ColorCreative will work with and back projects from emerging, diverse screenwriters.
The move comes as the entertainment industry is under pressure to develop films and shows that feature underrepresented talent both in front of and behind the camera. There’s a lot of room for improvement. Films such as “Black Panther” and “Crazy Rich Asians” have demonstrated the commercial appeal of movies with minority leads, but they remain the exception, not the rule. A recent USC study found that only 29.3% of characters in the 100 top grossing movies of 2017 were from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.
Rae is best known for creating, co-writing, and starring in the HBO series “Insecure.”
“Issa is a force of nature, and a magnet for talented people,” said Sanford Panitch, president of Columbia Pictures, in a statement. “We couldn’t be more excited to join her in her mission to pave the way for fresh and authentic voices.”
Bryan Smiley, VP of production at Columbia Pictures shepherded the deal and will oversee production and development with ColorCreative for the motion picture group. Sara Rastogi, recently appointed as VP of production for ColorCreative will also help guide the deal for the company along with Deniese Davis, COO of ColorCreative.
“Working with Bryan Smiley and Columbia Pictures to further the mission ColorCreative set out to achieve four years ago in creating access for underrepresented writers, has been a dream come true,” Rae said in a statement. “All of the projects we are working on are fresh and promising and we can’t wait to continue the work. We hope to set a precedent and inspire the industry at large to invest in undiscovered talent, original IP, and fresh stories and perspectives.”