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Spike Lee: OTT Opening Doors for Multicultural Content

New over-the-top distributors such as Amazon hold the promise of providing opportunities for producers of color to get their projects on air, Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Spike Lee said.

Lee, speaking Wednesday at the NAMIC Conference general session, said the new OTT players can play a vital role in greenlighting television shows and films that tell stories from a multicultural perspective. Amazon Studios this December will release Lee’s latest film, Chi-Raq, which sheds light on the serious and often overlooked issue of gun violence within Chicago’s African-American community.

“That’s the hope, but we still have to wait and see,” Lee said. “Everybody else said no [to Chi-Raq] except Amazon. All it takes is one yes.”

Lee's Chi-Raq — which will run in theaters as well as on Amazon’s Instant Video service --  features an all-star cast including Samuel Jackson, Wesley Snipes, Nick Cannon, Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson, John Cusack and David Chappelle.

Lee also addressed diversity within the industry, saying that all executives have the responsibility to mentor someone to prepare them to eventually ascend to the executive levels of their respective companies.

“If you are not mentoring someone, you are not doing your job,” Lee said.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.