Most will find it hard to forget the rage felt by Black Twitter in 2015 when it became too hard to ignore the sidelining of Black Hollywood. #OscarsSoWhite became a rallying call via a hashtag used that called out the lack of diversity in the industry. More than seven years later, some things have changed—particularly around the marginalization of select groups, but there is much more work to be done. It’s why Chromatic Black, a collective of 10,000 + Black artists and activists dedicated to building cultural power and transformational justice through storytelling, seeks to encourage Black creatives by investing in their work.
Recently the organization announced the winners of the 2022 Ida B. Wells Fund, a competition the organization says was “created to support Black creatives with an investment to develop new original works that disrupt the master narrative.” The five winners will receive $15,000 for film project development, in addition to mentorship, master classes, project scaffolding, and community engagement opportunities.
“As we move toward a more pluralistic society, the fund and the work it advances helps us collectively reclaim the truth of our past, make sense of our present, and unlock imagination about our collective future,” says Abeni Bloodworth and Angela Harmon, co-founders of Chromatic Black.
Representation in film is critical for the industry and the moviegoers who fuel its existence. In the film-focused first installment of the 2022 Hollywood Diversity Report, UCLA researchers Darnell Hunt and Ana-Christina Ramón found that the highest grossing movies of 2021 were a success because of the majority non-white audiences who supported them. That also goes for the top streaming films—Amazon Prime’s Coming 2 America being one of them.
Of the fund’s winners, Honorary Chairperson Paula J. Giddings said, “Journalist Ida B. Wells would be proud of the legacy, found in these films, that she helped to create: media images that carry a message of pride, resilience, and the fierce power of unhidden truths.” Topics explored by this year’s awardees include Black trailblazers, societal injustices, and navigating corporate America as a Black professional. Past winners of the Ida B. Wells Fund include Lamard W Cher-Aime’s Captain Zero: The Animated Series, which speaks to the importance of mental health awareness in the Black communities, and Christine Swanson’s Fannie, a Bronze Lens award-winning short film about civil rights icon Fannie Lou Hamer, featuring Academy-award nominated actress, Aunjanue Ellis.
Screenwriter and producer of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Malcolm Spellman says the existence of the Ida B. Wells fund exemplifies “an evolution of our growth and power as creatives to invest in stories that subvert the master narrative.”