Producer Effie Brown (Dear White People, Project Greenlight) was the keynote speaker Monday afternoon at the annual Women at Sundance Brunch and encouraged all of the women in attendance to “explore their own unconscious bias and blind spots, and then to go further.”
If those who want to change the equation in Hollywood aren’t taking action against the status-quo, they’re supporting it. Hire, mentor and invest in women and people of color. Women make up half the population and people of color make up 40 percent. There is no such thing as innocent by-standing anymore. Somehow, we co-signed this. Somehow, we participated. If those who want to change the situation in Hollywood were not taking action, they were supporting it. – Effie Brown
Brown has been a public voice for diversity and inclusion for quite some time. Last year on HBO’sProject 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 ok to have only one black, female character (a sex worker) and a homogenous crew on the film that he was helping to develop.
“When we’re talking about diversity, you do it in the casting of the film, not in the casting of the show.” – Matt Damon
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.
This 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.
“Our voice is powerful. We are a force of nature. There’s nothing fiercer on God’s green earth than a woman with her mind made up. If people of color and women want to boost diversity in Hollywood they need to take action, rather than be complicit.” – Effie Brown
Matt Damon and Effie Brown’s Project Greenlight disagreement about diversity can be viewed in the below clip.