A new generation is guiding the entertainment business in a better direction

A new generation is guiding the entertainment business in a better direction

Hollywood culture may change.

Over the past decade, we have seen a significant discovery of bad behavior such as sexual harassment and abusive behaviour. Now, with a new generation—more diverse, female, and more multicultural—assuming leadership positions, the question becomes: Will it be possible to bring about positive change? Here, three new leaders from this year’s class have their say.

Jenelle English, Executive Vice President of Impact and Inclusion at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, believes that the New Guard’s support for entertainment industry leaders is essential not only in terms of boosting jobs, but also in creating empathy, closeness, and connection within communities.

“I have a feeling that many of us who are being recognized as new leaders have been leaders in some capacity throughout our lives,” says English. “This leadership has taken us to different communities, to expand our sense of community, to connect with different people and to engage in advocacy in a way that feels very ingrained in our identity. When you work in entertainment, film and media, there is a necessity to take that upbringing and exposure to different communities, and to advocate in the industry” .

To this end, English is particularly proud of the work that she and her colleagues at AMPAS have done to promote short documentaries to compete for this year’s Academy Awards.

“You are reminded of the power of film, and how a 10-minute short film can educate, inform and inspire conversations never seen before,” says English. “After one movie, I was having conversations with the members [of the Academy] For the first time about agriculture. With others, we were [talking] about adoption. There are a lot of topics. The film creates an entrance for us to explore.”

Director and producer Christian Rodriguez, founder of AAO Entertainment, represents a group of film and television clients, including directors James Cotten (“Painted Woman”) and Alfredo Ramos, who wrote and directed the 2021 comedy Welcome to Our World, starring Danny Trejo For Rodriguez, amplifying artists’ careers is the primary motivation for his day-to-day business.

Alfredo Ramos wrote and directed the 2021 comedy Welcome to Our World.

Rodriguez says that while the entertainment industry is primarily a vehicle for that – entertainment – it can also act as a region to bring about positive, systemic change and do good in the world. This aspect of Hollywood is what motivates him not only to advise his clients on the roles and projects they take on, but to support them emotionally as they paint the stormy waters of showbiz. And he thinks that’s what the new leadership is about more than anything else.

To that end, he says, “First and foremost, I want to advocate for mental health. [Coming from a Latino background,] I’ve always learned to be strong and hold my head up. Feelings are not always shared in Latin families. Because of this experience, I feel there are similarities in our industry. We have a culture where one is supposed to have thick skin.”

Reaching out to those he represents to check on their well-being is a key component of what it means to be an effective Product Manager.

“We all struggle with inner thoughts, and sometimes we just need that moment to see how people are doing and check out their day, and hopefully turn around that day or that week,” he says. “It’s about feeling important. Whatever the project is—it could be a feature quad, for example—but what’s the message really? What kind of view does the movie get?”

No one utters words about the power of entertainment, Rodriguez adds, “The projects my clients do can stir up emotions or change one’s condition. It’s important that they have a strong voice because their work can impact the world.”

Influencing the world through entertainment is an area in which Zoe Katz Samuels, Vice President of Entertainment Partnerships and Head of WCPG Content at Weinstein Carnegie Philanthropic Group, has real expertise. During her nearly nine-year tenure at WCPG, a judicial agency founded by Sarah Weinstein and Harry Bakst, Samuels helped amplify the philanthropic efforts of organizations such as CORE, founded by Academy Award-winning actor Sean Bean and Ann Lee, and the Elton John AIDS Foundation, which It was established in 1992 to eradicate the AIDS epidemic.

Zoe Katz Samuels, as Vice President of Entertainment Partnerships and President of WCPG, has helped amplify charities including Sean Penn’s CORE.
Ariel Maine Photography

Samuels’ mission was to work with prominent members of the entertainment industry – actors, producers, and filmmakers – to activate positivity.

“People in the field of entertainment and leisure as a medium – whether it’s television or film – are the most influential ways to drive change and make a difference,” Samuels says. “We’ve seen it with politics and cultural change because of [fictional] Characters on TV shows, with the impact of things like Live Aid or the ways the entertainment industry comes together to help communities.”

She adds that the purpose of WCPG has always been to learn “how we can use entertainment, sports space, and pop culture to make a difference.”

English compatibility. What she values ​​most in her leadership role at the Academy is the opportunity to activate affirmative action through filmmaking. “Whether it’s through community programs our museum supports, or programs that encourage dialogue around the film and make it accessible to communities — it’s part of the wonderful work we do in our library and archive,” she says. “What films do we keep? How do we portray them? How do we encourage filmmakers to contribute to our collection so that it is diverse, representative and inclusive?”

David Williams, Elton John and Tracy Emin attend a special event hosted by the Caring Family Foundation for the Elton John AIDS Foundation in the UK
Dave Bennett/Getty Images for EJA

Groups such as the Latinx Affinity Group and the LGBTQ Affinity Group are another powerful way the Academy can harness the power of film to “connect, create and generate professional opportunities,” says English.

“Being in a place where I can speak to and interact with the industry on behalf of the Academy’s members is something I take very seriously,” she adds. “Being able to challenge studios and production companies and encourage filmmakers to keep going is something I feel privileged to be able to do.”

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