WATCH: Effie Brown Delivers Passionate Film Independent Forum Keynote Address

Producer Effie Brown (Dear White People, Project Greenlight) delivered the Keynote address at the 12th annual Film Independent Forum and discussed what it would take to bring about more diversity in the entertainment industry. During her impassioned speech, Brown stated “There are only two ways we have made change in systemic oppression: shame and money. Our weapon is our voice, and our bullets are our dollars. We cannot support financially the people and places and things that are not inclusive, that participate in oppression.” Speaking to the Directors Guild of America, she said, “The next time there is a movie where there is a whitewashed Asian character, you don’t go see it and you tell other people not to see it.  When there is another white savior movie that is out there, you do the same — you don’t see it and you tell other people not to see it.”  Brown believes this mentality should extend to television as well.  She added, “If we want to support inclusivity, stop watching the shows that don’t hire women and people of color in the writers’ rooms and behind the scenes.”

Brown has been a public voice for diversity and inclusion for quite some time.  Last year on HBO’s Project Greenlight, the entire world heard Matt Damon share his patronizing and insensitive remarks with Brown (the only black producer on the show) why it was perfectly okay to have only one black, female character (a sex worker) and a homogenous crew on the film that he was helping to develop.

Despite being told by other producers on the show that it was in her best interest to “simmer down and let others speak for her” rather than to “take on a cherished Hollywood celebrity,” Brown called Damon out on his opinion without hesitation, and the encounter between the two instantly went viral.  The situation shed a public light on issues surrounding diversity and inclusion in film and television.  Brown stated that the show (Project Greenlight) “gave a real and accurate peak behind the scenes of what it’s like to make a film in Hollywood, and exposed the systemic exclusion of Hollywood in a real mainstream way.”

Brown is currently the VP of production and development at Lee Daniels’ Fox-based production company where she oversees a fund to recruit diverse storytellers and below-the-line talent for film and TV.  In addition to her current position, she will serve as an executive producer of Daniels’ upcoming series Star alongside Tom Donaghy (The Whole Truth), and Pamela Oas Williams.  In addition to Star, Daniels and Brown will team up for a half hour comedy starring standup comedian Ms. Pat (Patricia Williams).  Brown and Daniels will executive produce this comedy alongside Williams and Brian Grazer.

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The HBR Media Team is a collective group of black women filmmakers, writers, and studio/network executives who are passionate about bringing visibility to women of African descent working in film and television.

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