Celebrities pose with Malone at Sundance party

Sundance film festival spotlights inclusivity

An inclusive event for directors and creators in film spearheaded by Ericka Nicole Malone was a hotspot for attendees at the recent Sundance Film Festival. 

Malone (Remember Me: The Mahalia Jackson StoryWard of the State) is an award-winning producer, director and writer who debuted the Indie Director’s and Creator’s Spotlight event at Sundance to shine a light on talent in specific areas of the industry with the goal of encouraging collaboration among diverse and multicultural filmmakers. 

Malone wanted to “provide a unique experience highlighting female and minority filmmakers,” and it was also important to her to host an event that would impact conversations about inclusivity in Hollywood.

Malone set out to change the conversation by creating a zone for directors and creators at a festival known for drawing the largest audience of independent film professionals in the United States to its site in Utah each year.

Through her company Ericka Nicole Malone Entertainment, she organized a full day of programming with industry insights, education, networking opportunities and panel discussions that focused on diversity, featuring Hollywood veterans and creative newcomers to the industry.  

By bringing people together to share their stories in front of an industry audience at Sundance, she hopes that “their unique experiences and knowledge will lend support and inspiration to others on this same journey.” 

Malone herself played host at this year’s event along with other personalities who kept the conversation flowing as moderators, like NAACP Award-winning actress and best-selling author Tabitha Brown, producer Denver Robbins (Perception: Seeing is Not Believing) and Lamonia Brown (Essence Film Festival).

Panel member Eduardo Ramirez, the director of photography for NARCOS and Remember Me: The Mahalia Jackson Story spoke on the challenges of cinematography as a person of colour in Hollywood. Matty Rich (Straight Out of Brooklyn, The Cure) who wrote and directed cult classic The Inkwell debuted the trailer for his new film Birth of the Black Underworld in the inclusive zone.

Rich later mentioned that he was “in awe of the level of talent that came out to support her platform,” and congratulated Malone “for bringing this conversation, top talent, and integrity to the industry.”

Craig Ross Jr., the writer-director-producer of AllBlk’s Monogamy, openly discussed his longstanding career as a director for Fox’s Prison Break, Bones, and NCIS, all of which are extremely popular television shows in and outside of the U.S., while Malone explored the topic of breaking through barriers to diversity in the industry.

Actress and producer Vanessa Estelle Williams, best known for Soul Food, New Jack City, HBO’s L Word – Generation Q, the Candyman film series, as well as being a recognizable figure on the daytime soap opera Days of Our Lives and the nighttime soap series Melrose Place, talked about her transition to creating, from acting.

Wendy Raquel Robinson, star of Paramount Plus’s The Game, reviewed her illustrious career and philanthropic work as art director for the NAACP award-winning program Amazing Grace Conservatory.

To some it may look like a place to socialize and people may feel comfortable in the space, but Malone noted that it’s not just a lounge. It’s a unique networking and learning experience for filmmakers, a day of celebration for independent directors and creators of colour who are transforming Hollywood. 

Find out about the Ericka Nikole Malone Sundance after-party in the inclusive zone later that evening.

by Cherryl Bird – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Twitter @ladycbird | Instagram @cherrylbird

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