Issa Rae inks multi-picture deal to back diverse writers


Insecure star Issa Rae’s production company has struck a deal with Columbia Pictures to create movies written by emerging and diverse screenwriters.

According to editors at Variety, the Emmy-nominated actress/writer, who is best known for creating and starring in HBO series Insecure, will work with the studio via her ColorCreative company to develop and write features based on the participants’ original ideas. The first group will be announced in 2019.

“Working with Bryan Smiley and Columbia Pictures to further the mission ColorCreative set out to achieve four years ago in creating access for underrepresented writers, has been a dream come true,” the 33-year-old said in a statement. “All of the projects we are working on are fresh and promising and we can’t wait to continue the work.

“We hope to set a precedent and inspire the industry at large to invest in undiscovered talent, original IP (intellectual property), and fresh stories and perspectives.”

Despite films such as Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians making a splash at the box office, they remain the exception. A report from Professor Stacy L. Smith and the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California (USC), found only 29.3 per cent of characters in the 100 top-grossing movies of 2017 were from under-represented racial and ethnic groups, which it dubs an “epidemic of invisibility”.

“Issa is a force of nature, and a magnet for talented people,” added Sanford Panitch, President of Columbia Pictures. “We couldn’t be more excited to join her in her mission to pave the way for fresh and authentic voices.”

Columbia has backed 2019’s Miss Bala, an action film made with a 95 per cent Latinx cast and crew, and animated movie Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which stars a half-Puerto Rican half-African-American superhero, Miles Morales.