Actor-Rapper Tip “T.I.” Harris, Kevin Hart Producing Partner Jeff Clanagan Hit Hollywood Diversity Efforts, ‘Gone With The Wind’
Actor and rapper Tip “T.I.” Harris and Jeff Clanagan, Kevin Hart’s business partner, represented the entertainment perspective in a virtual panel Thursday examining issues across society and culture raised by the George Floyd protests.
“There is no perfect revolution,” Harris said. But even if ultimate outcomes don’t match “what we have in our heads,” the key is to continue “attacking the financial base of what we consider this power of oppression.”
Clanagan, president of Hart’s Laugh Out Loud and CEO of Codeblack Films, said the recent Gone With the Wind episode shows how much progress is yet to be made. HBO Max this week temporarily pulled the 1939 film off its streaming service after objections were raised about its depictions of slavery, among other issues. “But the next day, Gone with the Wind becomes the No. 1 movie on Amazon,” Clanagan said. “So what does that say to America and the world? HBO Max did the right thing and took the right step, but the hunger for that media is there.”
‘Gone With The Wind’ Returns To HBO Max With Contextual Spotlight On Film’s Denial Of Slavery’s Horrors & Black Characters
The death of Floyd, who was Black, in May at the hands of a white police officer has set off large-scale protests across the country and started to set off significant changes in organizations and many facets of modern life. The panel, called a “Town Hall for Change,” was convened online by trade show organizer Advertising Week. Other speakers included Ndaba Mandela, founder and chairman of the Mandela Institute for Humanity; Marc Morial, CEO of the National Urban League; and Jayanta Jenkins, co-founder of advertising collective Saturday Morning. Monique Nelson, CEO of UWG, the oldest multicultural media agency in the U.S., served as moderator.
Keisha Lance Bottoms, major of Atlanta, appeared for a few minutes at the start of the event before logging off, citing a busy schedule. She addressed the systemic glitches in this week’s Georgia primary vote, which have raised concerns about November. “As unorganized and frustrating as it was, what was not lost on me was that people were showing up to vote,” she said. “They were willing to stand in line for six to eight hours to exercise their right to vote. I think that’s what we will see going into November.”
Clanagan emphasized the need to dismantle the historically “racist structure” of Hollywood, complementing recent gains in on-screen diversity with real change inside studios.
“Studios are willing to pay for [Black-created] content because it generates revenue for the company but they’re not willing to share the power in the boardroom,” he said. “We don’t control anything. We don’t control distribution, we don’t control marketing. We’re not making decisions. And yet, the insensitivity that a lot of studios have, they don’t understand the culture, there’s no one inside. So what do they do? They go hire a VP of diversity. A token person at the studio, you know, who can’t really make a lot of changes. A lot of times, the VP of diversity is not sitting in the room where a lot of decisions are made.”
Unity will be a key priority as things move forward, he added. “We have to work as a unit. We have to speak up and now’s the time,” he said. “I’m really encouraged by black, brown, white coming together and vocalizing what’s going on. But we have to keep that going. It can’t be a hashtag, social-media cause and then a month later we don’t even think about.”