Sunwise’s Handy in Effort to Push Hollywood Diversity

Ri-Karlo Handy of Sunwise Media (Image credit: Sunwise Media)

Sunwise Media founder Ri-Karlo Handy, whose social media post seeking Black editors set off a racial backlash, is spearheading a new partnership formed to create a pipeline of “below-the-line” jobs in order to foster diversity in Hollywood.

The partnership involved the Los Angeles Urban League, The Editors Guild and the Handy Foundation.

The partnership said it has a commitment to mentor, train, and employ Black and minority young adults to work in Hollywood through its Backstage Careers Program.

The Editors Guild will support Backstage Careers by recruiting trainers, mentors and program speakers from among guild membership. The goal is to create a space for learning to occur, and relationships to be cultivated and nurtured.  

The Urban League was already working on a training program designed to help create a pipeline of diverse talent for people doing the hiring in Hollywood for behind the camera jobs.

“It’s serendipitous,” said Handy. “Now, we can work together to place African Americans in Hollywood below-the-line positions, a term defining various behind the camera jobs.” 

Handy said that most job-training programs down give individuals the skills they need to get entry level jobs. Through his foundation, he'll start teaching people editing and help them find entry level jobs on non-union productions. Once they get enough hours, they'll should be able to join the union.

He said he has already been contacted by several companies about job opportunities.

"The response has been awesome, it's very exciting to have these conversations," said Handy. "Hiring mangers from Viacom, Tyler Perry Studios, Netflix, NBCUniversal, CBS, and so many more have reached out to me directly, or have downloaded the Black Editors list." 

Some white editors had charged that Handy’s search for Black editors as a form of reverse discrimination.

"Inequity in BTL careers requires a multi-faceted solution involving production companies, studios, unions, and training providers," says Brian Williams, Los Angeles Urban League chief of operations. "We're finally bringing all of these elements together to move the needle, and to do it at scale."

"As a union, we remain committed to enhancing our outreach to programs and schools that serve all communities, especially those who might not otherwise have opportunities to be exposed to the array of jobs with our jurisdiction so they can envision a career path they may not have known existed or believed was possible," added Cathy Repola, executive director of the Motion Pictures Editors Guild.

Sunwise plans to expand the partnership beyond Hollywood to Madison Avenue.

“We will seek to leverage the Urban League and Handy Foundation’s relationships with companies like CBS, Fremantle, Paramount, Tyler Perry Studios, Viacom, ITV, Sony, Adobe, AT&T, Disney, Hillman Grad Productions, AEG, Grammy Museum Foundation, and other’s as we seek to promote diversity within the advertising world,” said Elverage Allen, Handy’s partner at Sunwise and its head of advertising sales. 

“Hopefully, the key decision makers in advertising will emulate this effort and partner with us and promote corporate support for black-owned media companies including Sunwise,” said Allen. “While many brands are responding favorably to the Black Lives Matter Movement and social justice initiatives with advertising dollars, how many of those ad dollars are directed to black-owned media? Sponsorship of black media companies and the content we produce creates jobs! It recycles dollars within our economy and communities of color.”

As a 100% African American-owned media company and Certified MBE, Sunwise Media feels it is uniquely positioned to deliver content that preserves Black history, celebrates Black culture, and entertains responsibly through our empirical knowledge of the Black experience. 

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.