African Americans have always been a part of the Hollywood tapestry. Since Hattie McDaniel’s Academy Award win for her role in Gone with the Wind, African Americans have been an integral part of helping Hollywood’s make magic. Many have recognized this fact and are doing something to support the growth and continuance of African Americans in film. One such program that is doing this is American Family Insurance’s, Through a Black Lens Program. I have collaborated with Aaron Richardson, Creative Development Administrator at AMFAM, to tell us more about this program.
I first found out about this program when I was on the subway in Atlanta. I did a double take when I saw the billboard. I thought – insurance and film – how does this go together? It’s intrigued me so much that I had to showcase you in this blog. So, I guess the very first question that I must ask is ‘how did this company – an insurance firm – get involved with a film initiative such as this?’
Great question, Melisha. It’s simple really. Our company’s role as an insurance provider is to protect what’s important. As ambassadors of our company we make it very personal and we take “what’s important” to include the people we love, the homes we live in, the businesses we run. And especially, the dreams we have.
Protecting dreams also means cultivating them. In sponsoring Through a Black Lens, we’re able to help cultivate a dream for the winner Tone Williams, and our partner, Morris Chestnut, who’s been dreaming of directing a film.
Tell our readers what this program is and what your objectives are with this program.
At the core, Through a Black Lens provides us a platform to connect with our community by way of a passion point for many people: film. People are always willing to discuss film. Big screen, small screen, or online, filmed content always stokes conversations at work, school, home – everywhere. We thought we could use our sponsorship as a way into those conversations with a chance for us to present ourselves in a positive light by giving our communities the vehicle to express their dreams.
There is a contest involved with this, correct? Tell us more about this contest and who can be involved.
Yes. The contest was open to everyone willing to share their dream online. The contest winner, Tone Williams, was kind enough to share his dream online and then rallied people to like his entry enough times to get him into the finals. Out of the five finalists his entry was selected by a group of panelists, including our partner for the program, Morris Chestnut. Tone’s entry inspired a short film that is currently in production and will debut at the American Black Film Festival in New York City this June. Tone will be our guest in attendance when the film is debuted.
The contest was only part of the program though. Our primary purpose is to spark a conversation. And with our industry experts we’ve partnered with over the last two years, there is a lot to talk about. This year we have Morris providing his point of view on how to pursue a dream successfully; his thoughts about the film industry; and his career. You can view this series of vignettes at www.amfam.com/blacklens.
Is this a nationwide initiative and do you plan to do more concentrated efforts here in Atlanta, Georgia which is growing its film industry?
AR: Because of its online nature it was national. We promoted it throughout our business footprint with the help of our agents. And we do love Atlanta. It served as the host city for our Stand Up For Family series hosted by Bill Bellamy and will no doubt factor into our future branded content plans.
Thanks for wanting to know more about Through a Black Lens. Keep an eye on us Melisha, we hope to intrigue you even more in the future.
Photo courtesy of AMFam’s Through a Black Lens