June 29, 2016—Today, Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment Commissioner Julie Menin announced #NominateNYC - a new initiative that will work towards bringing greater diversity to the film and entertainment industry. According to recent reports from the USC Institute for Diversity and Empowerment at Annenberg and UCLA’s Bunche Center for African American Studies, women directed only 4% of the top-grossing films of 2014, while people of color directed 13%. Women and people of color accounted for less than 10% of writers of the top 163 films of that year. People of color held 13% of lead roles in the 163 top films of 2014, and women 26%. Additionally, across 4,610 speaking characters in the 100 top grossing films of 2014, only 19 were lesbian, gay or bisexual, and zero were transgender.
Beginning today through November 15, 2016, the #NominateNYC initiative will feature a portal on MOME’s website for New York City-based entertainment professionals of varying backgrounds to proactively nominate themselves or someone they know for consideration for membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the "Academy").
In addition, the portal can be utilized by individuals interested in learning more about membership requirements to guilds, unions and other film industry associations. The website will include links to a variety of organizations that represent writers, actors, musicians, directors and other creative professionals such as the Directors Guild of America, Writers Guild of America East, NY Women in Film and Television, and Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians.
#NominateNYC will support the recent goal set by the Academy to increase the number of women and diverse Academy members by 2020. Notably, #NominateNYC will be useful for New Yorkers who fall within the Academy’s requirements to submit their own qualifications, or those of someone they know, for possible consideration for sponsorship by current Academy members for a specific branch. Academy membership branches include actors, casting directors, cinematographers, costume designers, designers, directors, documentary, executives, film editors, make-up artists and hairstylists, music, producers, public relations, short films and feature animation, sound, visual effects and writers. Currently, the Academy’s process is by sponsorship only. The portal can provide a pool of candidates of interest, with the goal of reducing barriers to identifying possible candidates with diverse backgrounds. All 17 branches will be listed on MOME's website, and all qualified industry professionals are welcome to submit their information to the portal. After the November 15 deadline, MOME will hand over submissions to the Academy.
"Our differences are what make our culture more vibrant, more beautiful, and more dynamic – and having greater diversity in media and entertainment creates more compelling stories for all of us to enjoy," said MOME Commissioner Julie Menin. "Given that New York City is home to the nation’s most diverse pool of entertainment industry professionals, our Agency is uniquely suited to assist entertainment industry organizations in achieving their goals to expand and diversify their membership."
"Diversity is New York City's greatest strength and we must make sure that the vibrancy of all of our communities is fully reflected in artistic and creative endeavors," said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. "NominateNYC will help bring much needed diversity to the City's thriving film and entertainment industry, which has created thousands of local jobs for New Yorkers, and I thank Commissioner Menin for spearheading this important initiative."
"By providing a platform and spotlight for New York's diverse and emerging talent, MOME is taking a meaningful step in addressing the broken pipeline shaped by years of status quo hiring by industry employers," said Neil Dudich, Eastern Executive Director of the Directors Guild of America. "This initiative builds on the DGA's decades of work on behalf of our women and ethnic minority members, and we applaud Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Menin for their efforts to push the employers to adapt more diverse hiring practices."
"We applaud Commissioner Menin and MOME for this insightful initiative," said Lowell Peterson, Executive Director of the Writers Guild of America, East. "New York is home to some of the most talented - and diverse - professionals in the entertainment industry. Just as more diverse storytelling makes better films, a more diverse and inclusive membership will enhance the industry’s ability to recognize and uphold excellence for generations to come."
SAG-AFTRA New York President Mike Hodge lauded the effort saying, "New York City exemplifies diversity and we are proud to be part of this important initiative to ensure the industry has the most inclusive and dynamic talent possible as candidates for nomination."
"New York City is home to the most talented, unique and diverse community of musicians in the world who together have made New York City a global capital of culture," said Tino Gagliardi, president, Associated Musicians of Greater New York, Local 802 AFM. "As a representative of over 7500 musicians in every field, genre and industry, I'm confident in my ability to say that New York City's diversity is one of its greatest strengths and must be supported, championed and celebrated. We applaud Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Menin for identifying innovative ways to help ensure that the media and entertainment industries achieve their goals of equitable, inclusive and accessible membership."
"Representing a craft that is often is overlooked when executed perfectly, Make-up Artists & Hair Stylists Local 798 appreciates the efforts of Commission Menin and MOME in giving under-represented professionals an avenue for recognition through the #NominateNYC program," said Cynthia O’Rourke, Secretary-Treasurer, Make-Up Artists & Hair Stylists, Local 798.
"We share everyone’s goal of greater representation both in front and behind the camera, which in turn will create better product and stories that speak to all of us," said Joe Hall, President of Ghetto Film School. "We are eager to partner with the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment on this proactive idea to address the issue of diversity, as it's a great example of the catalyst role that smart government can play."
Terry Lawler, Executive Director of New York Women in Film & Television said, "As an organization that has spent the last 40 years working to diversify the entertainment industry, especially in New York City, New York Women in Film and Television (NYWIFT) welcomes this important new initiative. #NominateNYC will be a vital tool for us and the industry as a whole. Our industry should reflect the diversity of our great city, and we are grateful that MOME and Commissioner Menin are as committed to attaining that goal as we are."
New York City has an incredibly rich and talented pool of entertainment professionals. #NominateNYC will serve as a model to connect these professionals to organizations looking to diversify their memberships. This new initiative will be extensively promoted through outreach activities, including events hosted by MOME and its partners, and on social media. MOME will not review or evaluate the merits of the submissions, and will not recommend or endorse any particular candidate.
"New York’s greatest strength is our diversity, and that diversity fuels our city’s leadership in the arts," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "Promoting artists from all backgrounds and all walks of life into positions of greater prominence in their fields is simply the right thing to do."
"To capture the reality of Brooklyn, as well as the imagination of audiences everywhere, movies and television shows must reflect the amazing diversity of our people — on the stage, behind the camera, and at the writing table," said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. "By opening the door and allowing underrepresented entertainment professionals to join associations and build connections that advance their careers, #NominateNYC will support the next generation of talented individuals who will create the art that shares our diverse borough with the world."
State Assembly Member Joe Lentol said, "I am thrilled. This represents an important effort to improve the diversity of an important NYC industry and opens the industry up to the world even more. It means more great talent, better productions and a nobler world view originating from NYC."
"I'm glad that the City is creating further opportunities for minorities in the film and entertainment industry," said City Council Member James Vacca, Chair of the New York City Committee on Technology. "Connecting aspiring actors and actresses to organizations that can help further their careers will have a tremendous impact on diversity in our burgeoning film industry. New York City leads the way in multiculturalism and diversity. I applaud Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Menin for their efforts.""More diversity in the Film and Entertainment industry means better stories and a stronger industry," said City Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland. "As the film industry in NYC grows it must take advantage of the latent talent the City has in all its neighborhoods, and I’m happy to see MOME taking steps towards fostering diversity and supporting aspiring professionals to be included and get jobs in front and behind the cameras."
"New York City already leads the way in diversity on Broadway, and through #NominateNYC, the City will make it easier for women and people of color to get film work, share their stories, and challenge stereotypes. Thank you to the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment for bringing forth this important initiative," said City Council Member Helen Rosenthal.
"This new initiative is a proactive step that can certainly help diversify and promote more inclusion in an industry that is need of it. The film and entertainment industry should aim to reflect our multicultural world, and #NominateNYC can be a tool to do that. I applaud the Office Media & Entertainment and Commissioner Menin for recognizing that greater diversity will help the media industry strive and succeed in our City," said City Council Member Ritchie Torres of the Bronx.
#NominateNYC is one of several initiatives MOME is pursuing to increase inclusion in the media and entertainment industry, and is a continuation of New York City’s efforts to promote opportunities for women, people of color and other diverse backgrounds.
In 2006, the Agency created the "Made in NY" Production Assistant Training Program, which provides unemployed and low-income New York City residents with training and placement into entry-level positions in film and television production. In its 10th year, the successful program has graduated over 600 trainees of whom 95 percent are people of color, 52 percent are women and one quarter were unemployed 12 months prior to enrollment.
MOME was a founding sponsor of the Brooklyn College Barry R. Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema, which is the only public graduate school in the nation seamlessly integrated into a working film lot, and the first public graduate school of cinema in New York City. The school provides affordable access to career opportunities in cinema, while simultaneously creating a pipeline of diverse talent that can work in the local film industry. Of the 69 students in the inaugural class, nearly half are women and approximately 43% are people of color. In the last two years alone, the City has invested $2 million towards scholarships at Feirstein.
Earlier this month, MOME announced the launch of programs to provide New Yorkers from underserved communities with greater access to live theatre and feature films.
For more information on #NominateNYC, visit NYC.gov/NominateNYC.