International Film Market: Consumption of Black Culture, Rejection of Black Stories
The world’s appreciation for black culture is apparent. It’s influence on global expressions of art and humanities is undeniable. Yet, narratives reflecting the depth of the lived black experience are routinely dismissed by international distributors of film and television content, as lacking resonance and marketability with global audiences. This self-fulfilling hypothesis serves to perpetuate the status quo and stifle diverse perspectives. The denial of critical pre-sale capital from international markets further denies the world the beauty, power, and hope offered by black content creators and their amazing stories.
The NAACP convenes a panel of storytellers to explore the myths and rigors of international distribution for black-themed content and leading roles.
Kyle Bowser, SVP Hollywood Bureau, NAACP
Mo Abudu, CEO, EbonyLife Group
Dr. Darnell Hunt, Dean of the Division of Social Sciences and Professor of Sociology and African American Studies, UCLA
Johnny Jones, Executive Director of Worldwide Marketing Content, Warner Bros. Pictures
Gabriel Lerman, Board Member, Hollywood Foreign Press Association
Tirrell D. Whittley, CEO, Liquid Soul
presented in partnership with NAACP
Darnell Hunt Dean of the Division of Social Sciences and Professor of Sociology and African American StudiesDarnell HuntDean of the Division of Social Sciences and Professor of Sociology and African American Studies
Darnell Hunt is Dean of the Division of Social Sciences and Professor of Sociology and African
American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Dr. Hunt has written
extensively on race and media, including four books and numerous scholarly journal articles
and popular magazine articles. Prior to his positions at UCLA, he chaired the Department of
Sociology at the University of Southern California (USC).
For more than two decades, Dr. Hunt has worked on numerous projects exploring the issues of
access and diversity in the Hollywood industry. He was lead author of UCLA’s 2014, 2015, 2016,
2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 Hollywood Diversity Reports, which provide comprehensive
analyses of the employment of women and minorities in front of and behind the camera in film
and television. He authored the last six installments of the Hollywood Writers Report, released
by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2014 and 2016. He was
principal investigator of The African American Television Report, released by the Screen Actors
Guild (SAG) in June of 2000. He has also worked in the media and as a media researcher for the
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights’ 1993 hearings on diversity in Hollywood. Recently, he has
worked as a consultant on film and television projects focusing on sensitive portrayals of race,
ethnicity and other social issues.
Dr. Hunt has also been a frequent public commentator on questions of media and race. He has
been interviewed for hundreds of television and radio programs on the topic, and the findings
of his research studies have been reported in thousands of print, radio, broadcast, and on-line
media outlets throughout the United States and abroad. He has also participated in and
moderated dozens of panel discussions about media diversity sponsored by entities such as the
Federal Communications Commission, the United Nations, the Congressional Black Caucus, and numerous colleges and universities. He was listed among Ebony magazine’s “Power 150
Academia” for 2009-2010.
Gabriel LermanBoard Member, Hollywood Foreign Press Association
Born in Argentina in 1962, Gabriel Lerman has been interviewing movie stars for the last 30 years.
He is the Los Angeles correspondent for many outlets from Spain and Latin America, including the daily La Vanguardia from Barcelona, the magazines Dirigido Por and Ethic from Spain, Estilo from Honduras and Acción from Argentina.
He also interviews regularly directors and actors from Latin America and Spain for the website GoldenGlobes.com.
From 1991 until 2008 he was the Entertainment Editor of the weekiies Mundo LA and La Guia from Los Angeles.
During many years he was the correspondent in this city for many important newspapers like La Nacion, Pagina 12 and La Capital from Argentina, El Pais from Uruguay, Ultimas Noticias and La Epoca from Chile, El Nuevo Herald from Miami and Hoy from New York.
He’s the only Argentine voting the Golden Globes with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, where he is not serving as a member of the Board of Directors.
He was nominated in 1998 by the Publicist Guild of America to the International Media Award and received twelve awards from the National Association of Hispanic Publications.
Prior to moving to the United States in 1989, Lerman contributed in Argentina to the dailies Clarín and Sur. In Argentina, Lerman published two books of interviews and a book for children. His unpublished novel, Los habitantes del espejo, was awarded a second prize by Adolfo Bioy Casares in the First Bienal de Arte Joven in 1989.
Lerman lives in Los Angeles with his wife and his younger son.
Johnny JonesExecutive Director of Worldwide Marketing Content, Warner Bros. Pictures
Johnny Jones is an Entertainment Industry Executive with more than twenty years of experience.
He is currently Executive Director of Worldwide Marketing Content for Warner Bros. Pictures. He has most recently produced theatrical, digital and home entertainment content in part for Judas And The Black Messiah, Mortal Kombat, and Reminiscence. He is currently producing content for 8-Bit Christmas and is the point person for the behind the scenes on set capture for Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. Previous films in his capacity as Executive Director of Worldwide Marketing Content include Just Mercy, Tenet, and Wonder Woman 84, to name a few.
Prior to his position in Worldwide Marketing Content, he was Executive Director of International Theatrical Publicity where he produced photographic, written and audio-visual content for Warner Bros.’s international offices to further their publicity campaigns. Campaigns included the Harry Potter Series of Films, The Hobbit Trilogy, The Dark Knight Trilogy, The Matrix Franchise, Inception, Dunkirk, Ready Player One, Ocean’s 8, Crazy Rich Asians, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Creed & Creed II, The Hangover Trilogy, Gravity, Kong: Skull Island, Aquaman, The Lego Batman Movie, Mad Max: Fury Road, Suicide Squad, and Wonder Woman to name a few.
He is a Walter Kaitz Foundation Fellow and recipient of the Publicists Guild’s Maxwell Weinberg Showmanship Award for contributions to the campaigns for The Hangover (2010), The Dark Knight (2009) and 300 (2008).
Kyle BowserSVP Hollywood Bureau, NAACP
For nearly three decades, Kyle Bowser has worked as an entertainment industry executive. His experience spans the areas of film, television, music, theater, radio, and digital distribution… This vocational variety has provided him with unique insight into the intersecting parameters of the arts, culture, business development, and emerging technologies.
Mr. Bowser’s career began with his involvement with Philadelphia International Records during the label’s celebrated heyday of multiplatinum releases. Next, at NFL Films, Mr. Bowser assisted in the distribution of the company’s classic football highlight films. As the head of marketing, Bowser promoted concerts, boxing, and CBA basketball for the former 6000 seat MLK Arena, in Philadelphia.
As Executive Director of his family owned and operated New Uptown Theater and Entertainment Center, Bowser managed the 2000 seat theater and four-floor private nightclub for five years. For two more years, at Harrah’s Marina Hotel Casino in Atlantic City, Mr. Bowser managed the hotel entertainment venues and its sound and lighting technicians.
Then with the Music Fair Group, Mr. Bowser produced special events in two 3,000-seat theaters-in-the-round, located in New York and Philadelphia. Simultaneously, he hosted a community-affairs talk show on the #1 ranked WUSL/Power 99 Radio, in Philadelphia.
Bowser’s involvement in television began with NBC Business Affairs in New York City. He later moved to Los Angeles to join Fox, Inc., where he developed television programming of multiple genres and creatively managed primetime fare aired on the Fox Broadcasting Company.
Bowser helped to establish Fox as a singular platform for urban programming. He next served as Director of Creative Affairs for HBO Independent Productions. There, Bowser developed new programs and creatively supervised sitcoms licensed to broadcast and cable outlets.
This steady career progression led Kyle Bowser to the founding of Res Ipsa Media, Inc., a multimedia production company that has garnered development deals with Warner Bros., Home Box Office, and 3 Arts Entertainment. The company has developed and/or produced an array of multimedia projects, including film projects A Line in the Sand (Showtime); For One Night (Lifetime); the sitcom series, For Your Love (NBC); the variety series, Midnight Mac (HBO); Kevin Hart’s Super Bowl Halftime House Party (Facebook Live); the E! Super Bowl Special (E!); the Super Bowl Gospel Celebration (Gospel Music Channel); Sunday Dinner (Cooking Channel); the NAMIC Vision Awards (Starz!); the documentary, A Forgotten Man (NFL Network); three sitcom pilots: ColorTV (Fox); The Thing About Family (NBC); The Weekenders (Comedy Central); the reality drama, Trial By Jury (UPN and theatrically); the Living Single Soundtrack (Warner Bros. Records); and the successful stage productions, Talk Show Live; and Iyanla Vanzant: This Is Your Life. His firm has produced event-based programming for iN Demand pay-per-view network and provided music supervision for the hit sitcom Half & Half (UPN).
Mr. Bowser was retained to procure new business and bookings for two legendary venues – the 17,000-seat Forum and the 500-seat B.B. King’s Blues Club. Under the shingle, PROactive CONsulting & Management, Bowser provides strategic planning and counsel for several entertainment industry artists and firms.
He currently serves as Senior Vice President, NAACP Hollywood Bureau. Bowser also had the noteworthy distinction to serve as Executive Producer of the hugely impactful, Inspired By…The Bible Experience, a fully dramatized audio Bible featuring an allstar cast of over 400 actors, musicians, athletes, clergy, and other noteworthy personalities.
A native of Philadelphia, PA, Kyle Bowser received his Bachelor of Science degree from Ohio University in Radio/Television Communications and earned his Juris Doctor degree from Widener University School of Law. Admitted to the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Bar Associations, he is a member the National Association of Multi-Ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC) – for whom he founded the annual Vision Awards and received its coveted Legacy Award.
Bowser is married to Yvette Lee Bowser, the creator and/or Executive Producer of the hit series Dear White People (Netflix), Black-ish (ABC), Half & Half (UPN); For Your Love (NBC); and Living Single (Fox). The happy couple lives in Los Angeles with their sons, Evan and Drew.
Mo AbuduCEO, EbonyLife Group
Mo Abudu, CEO of EbonyLife Group has made her mark through various endeavors in the corporate world; she has been described by Forbes as “Africa’s Most Successful Woman”. Abudu oversees all the divisions of the EbonyLife Group which include EbonyLife TV, EbonyLife Films, EbonyLife Studios, EbonyLife Creative Academy and EbonyLife Place, Nigeria’s first luxury entertainment resort.
She has Produced several highest grossing blockbusters to include: Fifty, The Wedding Party, Chief Daddy, The Royal Hibiscus Hotel and Your Excellency. She executive produced Òlòtūré, a Netflix Original feature film that exposes the shady business of human trafficking in Nigeria.
EbonyLife Media has secured several production collaborations with international studios to include: Sony, AMC Networks (USA), Netflix, Will and Jada Smith’s Westbrook Studios and Will Packer Productions. The EbonyLife Group recently launched the EbonyLife Creative Academy in partnership with the Lagos State Government; the 5th largest economy in Africa.
Abudu is highly sought after for her knowledge of the African and global creative industry. She has spoken at the Wharton School of Business, Cambridge University Judge School of Business, NYU, Oxford University and Harvard University. Throughout the years, Abudu has been a recipient of numerous awards and international recognitions.
Abudu has been invited to join the Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences, popularly known as ‘THE OSCARS’ in the PRODUCER membership category. The only African woman selected in this category.
Tirrell D. WhittleyCEO, Liquid Soul
Tirrell D. Whittley is a filmmaker, entrepreneur, and visionary media executive leader of LIQUID SOUL.
Since founding the company in 2001, it has grown into one of the nation’s leading brand marketing agencies specializing in advertising, marketing, social media, influencer marketing, branded content, and publicity for entertainment, sports, and corporate brands. Recognized as an expert in millennial and multicultural marketing, Mr. Whittley has become a trusted advisor for brands looking to find impactful ways to target consumers.
Under his leadership, LIQUID SOUL has developed marketing and distribution campaigns for an astounding slate of films and television shows, including such legendary properties and blockbuster hits as Black Panther, Guardians of the Galaxy, 42: The Jackie Robinson Story, War of the Planet of the Apes, Game of Thrones, Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Fast & Furious 6, Black-ish, The Voice, EMPIRE, Power, and numerous others. To date, the agency has delivered results for over thirty (30) #1 box-office films and more than 150 films that have generated over $3 Billion at the box office. The company’s corporate clients include such iconic brands as Salesforce, McDonald’s, Walmart, Coca-Cola, General Mills, Home Depot, and AT&T.
As a filmmaker, Mr. Whittley executive produced the documentary film, COPWATCH which premiered during the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival. Additionally, he is a producer of the Aretha Franklin music documentary film AMAZING GRACE and Executive Producer of the feature film BRIAN BANKS starring Aldis Hodge, Sherri Shephard, Greg Kinnear, and Morgan Freeman.
Among his many distinctions, Mr. Whittley is a 2019 NAACP Image Award Winner, member of the Motion Picture Academy of Arts & Sciences, recognized as the Atlanta Business League’s “Entrepreneur of the Year”, Florida A&M University’s “School of Business & Industry (SBI) Hall of Fame” Inductee and is lauded among the Who’s Who in Atlanta and Atlanta Tribune’s “Top 25 Architects of Success”.
Mr. Whittley is a cum laude graduate of Florida A&M University, with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting. He is an ordained deacon in his church and resides in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia with his wife and two daughters.