Tonya Williams, Reelworld Founder and Executive Director
Reelworld Screen Institute have launched the Reelworld Black Entrepreneurs Program with the aim to provide Black entrepreneurs with transformational business advisory services, training, paid apprenticeships, capital investment and networking opportunities.
This is a first-of-its-kind training program for Black casting directors, agents, managers, and producers in Canada. With $1.4 million in support from the Government of Canada, through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, this programming will increase Black representation in the Canadian screen industry and will have an impact on the sector for generations to come.
Beginning March 2022, the first cohorts of 16 chosen applicants will participate in a series of workshops focused on structuring a company for success with training in the key areas of strategic planning, finance, human resources, marketing and sales. All Black Canadians who are looking to build their own businesses as casting directors, agents, managers and producers should apply for this first-of-its-kind program. The three-and-a-half year program kicks off its first year with a series of weekly workshops taking place over the course of nine months and includes a three-months of paid apprenticeships.
The screen industries generate $12.8 billion for the Canadian economy, which can mean big profits for successful businesses in the industry. “For the past two decades it has been our dream to find the funding to create a program like this. So much racially diverse Canadian talent is hindered by the lack of supportive infrastructure necessary to guide their careers to success. The value of having a good agent and manager who looks like you and knows the challenges you will have to face is immeasurable, and to have casting directors who can view talent through a different lens will be a game changer in our industry. Also having more Black producers will enhance those writers and directors who seek someone in their corner who understands the intricacies of their stories and how to market them properly to a global audience,” says Reelworld Founder and Executive Director, Tonya Williams.
Organizations like Canada Media Fund, Telefilm, the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television (ACCT), Black Screen Office, ACTRA, Talent Agents and Manager of Canada (TAMAC) the Casting Directors Society of Canada (CDC), Shaftesbury, The Black Academy, Meridian Artists, Playback, TIFF and others have already pledged their support to this program in the form of additional funding, marketing/promotion, mentorship, apprenticeship opportunities and more.