Great stories help build empathy, connecting us to people and places we’d otherwise never know about or understand. But great stories are not enough if they only come through one lens, reflect one experience or embody one type of journey through life. At Netflix we believe in stories from everywhere for everyone and we are determined to help realise that ambition fully.
I believe the UK industry is changing. And although this change is slow, the wealth of young diverse British voices fighting their way to the top of the industry fills me with hope and excitement. Creators like Theresa Ikoko, Charlie Covell, and John Boyega resonate not just in the UK but across the world. But this is not enough. I believe we need to do more, not just to support the current generation of British talent, but also to develop a more inclusive pipeline of upcoming creatives across the entire production process.
I first met Bob Clarke, the founder and CEO of Mama Youth, when I was at Sky. He blew me away with the depth of his personal connection to its students and perseverance over many years to drive positive change at times when the wider industry took no notice and quite frankly didn’t care.
I have the same deep admiration for all the inspirational people who saw what needed to be done in the TV & Film sector. For over a decade Femi Oguns, Teddy Nygh, Rosa Powlowski, Nicky Bedu and Bob Clarke have worked tirelessly to develop opportunities for underrepresented talent. They understood the importance of diversity in storytelling before many others, relying on their own time and money to create three extraordinary organizations – Identity School of Acting, Million Youth Media and Mama Youth – to provide young Brits with skills and training as well as their first break in our industry.
Today, Netflix is investing £350,000 to:
- Support 30 full, year-long scholarships for students from Identity School of Acting;
- Double the number of young people Million Youth Media work with across the UK;
- Help Mama Youth expand its work andtrain more young people so they are better prepared for broadcast and media jobs.
This is part of the $5M fund Netflix created in July 2020 to create opportunities for Black creators and youth, and follows the launch of our recently announced UK Documentary Talent Fund. These schemes are in addition to initiatives we already have in place with our production partners – for example the Top Boy directors shadow scheme with Cowboy Films, in which four up-and-coming directors shadowed the show’s director for eight weeks each. One of them, Nia DaCosta, has been tapped to direct Marvel’s sequel to Captain Marvel.
Our members come from all across the UK, and all around the world. We succeed when our series and films like Sex Education, His House, and Top Boy not only entertain people but also help them connect to new voices, cultures and perspectives. This is only the beginning.
Anne Mensah is VP, UK Original Series at Netflix