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Queen Latifah's production company, Flavor Unit Entertainment, has teamed up with Essence Ventures, the parent company of Essence Communications, to help financially support Black creators in a big way.
The Essence Creators and Makers Fund is sent to invest $20 million in capital in African American creatives. The multimillion-dollar initiative was announced at this year's Essence Festival by both Queen Latifah and Richelieu Dennis, the founder of Shea Moisture and Essence Ventures.
“One of the most difficult things is struggling to find the capital to continue your ideas,” Queen Latifah said during a discussion at the festival. “So by supporting us, you are going to keep this engine running in a way you aren’t even going to imagine.”
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"The real value in content creation is ownership, and if you look at the funding challenges that creators and makers of color have – whether in film, television or other verticals – they are not getting the capital needed to develop projects,” said Dennis. "More importantly, they are not getting equity in the projects that they are creating. This results in a structure where they basically become work-for-hire rather than equity partners in the content that is driven by their creative ideas and energy around our culture. They are at the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to the economics, and that has to change. We and our partners will be focused on creating an ecosystem that does just that and elevates opportunities for the creators and makers who need it most."
Dennis also shared that they have already invested or pledged more than $30 million to Black women entrepreneurs over the last six months.
“Essence has always celebrated our culture and was there when it was hard to find stories and images for people who look like me,” said Queen Latifah. “Shakim and I have built our business on creating content, whether it be film, television or music, for those very same people. We have realized that although they come from our perspective, these narratives are universal, so for us to join forces is thrilling.”
Indeed! What a way to empower present and future Black creatives.