EBONY’s May Cover star Lena Waithe is continuing a collaboration with job search platform Indeed following a total investment of $3 million in their collaboration with Hillman Grad Productions' called the Rising Voices initiative, which supports the work of BIPOC filmmakers. To further highlight the importance of diverse voices in the program’s second season, 10 filmmakers will be awarded a total of $1 million to create pieces around the concept of the power of being aligned with the right work opportunity.

“We are thrilled to be bringing back the Rising Voices program with our partners at Indeed," said Waithe and Hillman Grad President, Rishi Rajani. “This year's brilliant films and filmmakers proved that there are so many stories out there to tell and so many artists ready to tell them. Creating these opportunities for underrepresented voices and kickstarting their careers is fundamental to our mission here at Hillman Grad. We are grateful to Indeed for their trust in us as we continue to grow this initiative. 100k per film. 10 films. Year 2 applications are open now!” 

A panel composed of executives from Hillman Grad Productions, Indeed, and creative studio Ventureland will select the finalists. They will then provide $100,000 per film along with a film crew who will help the filmmakers create a body of work in under 15 minutes. As stated in a press release, Waithe will actively participate in the program as a mentor along with the following advisory panel: PRETTYBIRD filmmakers Calmatic, Destin Daniel Cretton, Rayka Zehtabchi, and Melina Matsoukas through her de la Revolución Films banner. 

In addition to the program, Indeed and Hillman Grad launched a new Production and Development Lab otherwise known as “The Lab.” The Lab is a 12-month non-exclusive residency program featuring three filmmakers from Rising Voices Season 1: Chinese-American filmmaker Johnson Cheng, Haitian filmmaker Stacy Pascal Gaspard, and Dominican- born filmmaker Gabriela Ortega. Modeled after Indeed’s incubator program, which funds new product ideas internally, Hillman Grad will work with the filmmakers to develop ideas and create content for Indeed. A $2 million production budget from Indeed has been allocated to The Lab, and Hillman Grad will provide production support. Each filmmaker will be awarded $100,000 for their role as a filmmaker in residence.  

“We created Rising Voices to help lower the barriers for filmmakers, and to showcase these stories in their own voice,” said Indeed’s LaFawn Davis. “We are particularly excited to partner with Hillman Grad Productions, whose mentorship will provide filmmakers experience and a path to a sustainable career beyond one single film.”

A creative call for filmmakers is now open and the 10 finalists will be selected by the end of February.