Navigating Hollywood as a Black Creative/Talent

In honor of Black History month, ICM Partners hosted a number of exciting events in Los Angeles and New York, culminating in a dynamic panel discussion in our Los Angeles office for where some of our clients shared their experiences working in the entertainment industry.

Navigating Hollywood: The Client’s Perspective featured actresses Kylie Bunbury, Quinta Brunson, Ashley Blaine Featherson, Nafessa Williams, actor Jacques Colimon, producer Randall Winston, and director Tiffany Johnson, and was moderated by Alexandria Denton in our Media Rights department.

While each of the panelists discussed their individual experiences, the theme voiced most often throughout the evening was the importance of having representation by agents who live or understand the dynamics of otherness. Fostering strong, trusting relationships with agents, especially those who can relate to women and people of color, is essential to gaining the support and traction needed for growth within the industry. In one way or another, all seven panelists agreed that however one identifies, you need a team of representatives who are willing to fight for you with the same eagerness in which you will fight for your own opportunities.

These opportunities, while increasing, are still not as prominent for people of color. Panelists acknowledged that the industry is progressing towards equal opportunities, but it still has a long way to go. Some jobs can seem to exist in order to satisfy quotas, but with the backing of a supportive team, the work will continue to present itself. As Quinta Brunson stated during the panel, “I don’t want crumbles, I want the whole cookie!”

Part of the evening was dedicated to panelists offering advice on how to best navigate the industry. Some significant mentions were to avoid trying to represent an entire race, and instead focus on representing one’s own self. Establishing boundaries under intolerant circumstances was emphasized, as was using social media with positive intentions.

The client’s perspective on navigating Hollywood as a person of color culminated on a note of empowerment. The consensus was to work together to educate and ultimately reduce the amount of negative and prejudiced people who resist change. Increasing the opportunities for all voices from all backgrounds to be recognized is paramount to the evolution of not just storytelling, but equality as well.