Columnists Mayor Eric Garcetti Opinion

COMMUNITY REPORT: Evolve Entertainment Fund helping transform Hollywood

Hollywood is in the midst of an incredible transformation. The women behind Time’s Up are leading important conversations about the industry pay gap and they are joined by the brave survivors of sexual harassment and assault who have come forward to shine a spotlight on a culture of silence.

This is the start of a movement — one I am proud to join with the launch of the Evolve Entertainment Fund (EEF).

When I took office, our city’s legacy industries — including Hollywood — were reeling from the recession and years of neglect. That’s why I worked to triple the California Film and Television tax credit which, to date, has delivered $5.2 billion to our state and created 30,000 jobs. But it’s not enough to focus on strengthening the bottom line. It’s also about those working below the line, behind the camera and in front of it too.

Our city is stronger when we harness everybody’s talents and deliver opportunities across the board. With this reality in mind, I partnered with industry leaders like filmmaker Ava DuVernay and producer Dan Lin, as well as nonprofit organizations and educational institutions, to launch the Evolve Entertainment Fund.

The fund will open doors for women, people of color and low-income Angelenos seeking to build careers in film, television, and music. To date, EEF has secured 150 paid internships for students participating in HIRE LA’s Youth program at organizations like DreamWorks and Kobe Bryant’s Granity Studios. By year’s end, we hope to place 100 more students.

These are not “grab me a coffee” internships. Each EEF participant is paired with a mentor who will help them navigate an industry ready for new talent and energy. Many of those participating in EEF are still in school, so we partnered with our community college district to develop new programming that teaches them how to edit films, light sets and use new technologies.

We aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel. There are great organizations that have been dedicated to EEF’s goals for years, which is why we’ll provide mini-grants to nonprofits that are committed to inclusion in entertainment. But we also want to help out on projects made by underrepresented filmmakers, which is why we’ll provide production gap financing to get productions out of the editing room and into living rooms.

Our city is filled with stories waiting to be told and artists like Erick Rodriguez are ready to tell them. Rodriguez grew up in Boyle Heights and had to drop out of school to help translate for his father on construction jobs. But his true love is music.

He taught himself “Garage Band,” picked up a guitar and began writing his own music and putting it online. When he found his way into HIRE LA’s Youth, he landed an internship at a local company producing live events, where he learned to produce his own live shows.

He fell in love with the work, and now — thanks to Evolve — he’s getting connected with an internship at Spotify, where he will get the real-world experience he needs to jumpstart his career.

The launch of the Evolve Entertainment Fund will change the face of Hollywood — because whether it’s on the screen or behind the scenes, representation, inclusion and opportunity matter.

Mayor Eric Garcetti’s “Community Report” column is a monthly feature of The Wave.