The tide is beginning to turn in Hollywood for Black creators.
In tandem with the reshaping of how everyday people consume entertainment, this year has sent shockwaves through the industry. Not only has there been an outpouring of unprecedented performances in both TV and film, but a number of producers and directors are now inking massive deals with streaming services, TV networks and larger production houses that are furthering the position of the Black creator in Hollywood. Everyone from award-winning actresses to musicians to athletes are venturing into Hollywood’s executive spaces, and rendering deeper, richer partnerships with Hollywood’s heavy-hitters. And it’s ultimately opening doors for other creators.
Last year, Shonda Rhimes signed a $150 million mega-deal with Netflix, and since, companies have continued to mine Black talent for multi-project, multi-year contracts.
The numbers don’t lie. Here’s a list of the best Hollywood deals we’ve seen (thus far) in 2018.
1) Viola Davis inks deal with Amazon
Amazon Studios is the new home of Davis and Julius Tennon’s JuVee production company. The acclaimed actress and her hubby scored an exclusive first-look deal and can expect to bring “distinctive, fresh voices and high-quality content” to the streaming titan.
2) LeBron James announces new projects with partner, Warner Bros.
James’ foray into film and television predates 2018, but through his SpringHill Entertainment imprint, the newly minted Lakers baller has begun rolling out his project with production powerhouse Warner Bros. This year, they have announced the forthcoming release of Space Jam 2—a long-awaited sequel to the 1996 live-action smash featuring Michael Jordan—and debuted his series The Shop and documentary Student Athlete on HBO, a subsidiary of WarnerMedia.
I’m excited and honored to be a part of such an important film. I can’t wait for everyone to experience it. Monsters and Men hits theatres this Friday!September 28th! @NEONrated pic.twitter.com/8qO4UFmFVe
— Drizzy (@Drake) September 27, 2018
3) Drake gets in bed with Monsters and Men.
Quietly, the Canadian superstar joined forces with Altitude Film Distribution to acquire distribution rights to the police brutality drama starring John David Washington. With his resources, Drake will help the Sundance Special Jury Award winner reach a wider audience.
4) Michael B Jordan crafts new inclusion policy for WarnerMedia.
The celebrated lead actor is working to create more, real change in Hollywood. In September, Jordan and WarnerMedia announced that the actor outlined a company-wide inclusion policy to support their efforts toward diversity. The first new project under the new policy is Just Mercy, starring Jordan and created under his production company, Outlier Society Productions.
5) Jordan Peele signs TV deal with Amazon.
With deals for a 10-episode series and documentary already on the table, the Oscar winning director signed a first-look deal with the company back in June. Much like its deal with JuVee, Amazon will have first refusal of Peele’s idea for televisions series.
6) Barack and Michelle Obama make a presidential deal with Netflix.
In May, our forever president and first lady signed a multiyear production deal with Netflix to produce television shows and films for the streaming service. Additionally, the duo announced their Higher Grounds Productions imprint.
7) Lena Waithe’s Hillman Grad Productions is ready for more Showtime.
The Chi creator is gaining more creative real estate with the premium network. Under her Hillman Grad Productions banner, the Emmy winner will produce comedy and drama projects according to their first-look deal.
8) Kid Fury teams up with HBO.
Podcaster and comedian Kid Fury, born Gregory A. Smith, inked a deal with HBO to develop a now untitled series. The show will follow a 20-something sarcastic gay black man navigating adulthood, depression and responsibility in New York City. Smith will serve as writer and co-executive producer on the series with Waithe executive producing.
9) Ava Duvernay secures the bag with Warner Bros.
Everything the award-winning director does is major, and her recent deal with Warner Bros. is no different. Her recently inked $100M multi-year, multi-genre deal is vast and will cover “drama and comedy series, documentaries, digital content, event projects and longer-form projects for broadcast and cable, premium cable, streaming services and other platforms.”
10) Janelle Monae’s Wondaland Productions inks first-look deal with Universal.
Universal Pictures announced it has signed a first look production deal with Monae’s production company, Wondaland Pictures, the film division of her entertainment company, Wondaland. Under this pact, both Wondaland and Universal Pictures will develop content spanning various genres, amplifying marginalized voices and underrepresented perspectives. Can’t wait to see what the highly-melanated archandroid orchestrates!