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Refinery29 Teams With Willow Smith, Rashida Jones, Zosia Mamet and More for Video Slate

Refinery29, the Turner-backed digital media company targeting young female audiences, has lined up a slate of new projects for 2017 with creative partners it dubs “rule-defying storytellers.”

The New York-based company’s new programming lineup, announced at its Digital Content NewFronts presentation Wednesday, includes collaborations with singer-actress Willow Smith; Zosia Mamet (“Girls”); Rashida Jones (“Parks and Recreation”); R&B duo Chloe x Halle; Evan Rachel Wood and her band, Rebel and a Basketcase; and “Saturday Night Live” cast member Sasheer Zamata.

“I am privileged to commission, create and broadcast purposeful content that tells the many stories of female power and potential,” said Amy Emmerich, chief content officer of Refinery29. “This year demonstrates that these critical representations of women are not only what the audience craves but also what they demand, and that servicing them is also good business.”

The 2017 originals span comedy, music, style and beauty, and global social issues. Those will be distributed across Refinery29’s network of social and long-form distribution partners, which reaches more than 500 million users globally.

Since launching its video business two years ago, Refinery29 has had more than six films and series officially selected to premiere at film festivals including the Sundance Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival and SXSW. Those include Kristen Stewart’s “Come Swim,” Anu Valia Lucia’s “Before and After,” Chloe Sevigny’s “Kitty,” Tarek Turkey’s “Nidal” and Mia Lidofsky’s “Strangers.”

Today, Refinery29’s video content tops 300 million views per month. In the past two years, audiences have watched 13 million hours of its original programming.

Refinery29’s 2017 programming slate includes:

Long-Form Content

  • “Fabled”: A modern fairytale anthology series, executive produced by Zosia Mamet and Evan Jonigkeit, which pays homage to classic fairytales while upending the traditional structure based on patriarchal gender norms.
  • “Girly”: Docu-series about girls who are trailblazers in their communities developed in collaboration with Fictionless Films (“Born Into Brothels”) and executive producer Rashida Jones (“Hot Girls Wanted”). Refinery29 has partnered with Girl Up and the United Nations Foundation to promote the series on social media.
  • “I’m an Anomaly”: Docu-series celebrating and exploring the lives of women who prove there are no rules, no prescriptions, and no limits on who you can be and what you can do.

New and Returning Short-Form Series

  • “RSVP”: A new content brand about the art of everyday living providing a guide for all things food, drink, and home. Based on R29’s beauty video series “Short Cuts,” which has surpassed 500 million views.
  • “The Mention”: Series offering a “fresh and unfiltered celebration” of entertainment subcultures. “The Mention” will include a Facebook channel, newsletter, and weekly live video series that goes beyond just what celebs are wearing.
  • “Strong Opinions Loosely Held”: Based on the iTunes podcast of the same name that delivers a female spin on pop culture and political issues, the brand will expand to include a Facebook channel and op-ed personal essay series penned by female thought leaders. Created and hosted by Elisa Kreisinger.
  • “UnStyled Fashion Films”: After debuting as an Instagram hashtag and leading to a newsletter and podcast, Refinery29 will now debut an Instagram-first short film series that will use hyper-elevated visuals and styling to explore themes of confidence, perspective, and identity. Chloe x Halle are among the style pioneers slated to be featured in the franchise, created by R29 co-founder and global editor-in-chief Christene Barberich.
  • “Beauty with Mi”: Unscripted video series created by and starring Refinery29 beauty writer Mi-Anne Chan chronicles the craziest trends, most cutting-edge treatments, and strangest cult obsessions in the beauty world; distributed on R29’s YouTube and Snapchat Discover channels.
  • “Power Faces”: Based on “Short Cuts,” episodic series captures first-person narratives of real women who see makeup as their source of power.
  • “60 Second Cities”: Season two of the insider’s guide to must-see cities, delivered in just 60 seconds. Hosted by R29 fashion editor at large Annie Georgia Greenberg.
  • “Try Living with Lucie”: Second season of unscripted video series follows Lucie Fink as she dives headfirst into social experiments, five days at a time. The series is distributed on Refinery29’s YouTube and Snapchat Discover channels, while Fink provides updates on her everyday adventures on Instagram Stories.
  • “The Drop”: New series provides exclusive music-video premieres from female artists to showcase their sounds and discover fresh new voices. The first video comes from Evan Rachel Wood and her band, Rebel and a Basketcase, for their song “Today,” which they also performed at the NewFronts presentation.

Live Events

  • Empathy Lab: Series of live events, videos, and social interactions created with the purpose of deriving data and insights that aim to drive social change. Since R29 announced the Empathy Lab at last year’s NewFronts, it has collaborated with Columbia University School of the Arts’ Digital Storytelling Lab, conducting a series of experiments to explore how to amplify empathetic understanding between people. This year, Empathy Lab will work directly with brands “to help them better understand their mission, maintain their values and understand the role of empathy in today’s challenging and critical climate,” according to Refinery29.
  • RIOT Writer’s Lab: In partnership with TBS, Refinery29 is launching a two-day comedy lab in which six emerging female comedy creators will receive guidance from seasoned TV writers and industry executives, including Sasheer Zamata of “SNL.”
  • Soundscape: A “fashion-forward” music video series from executive producer Willow Smith that pairs next-gen female filmmakers with emerging musicians to produce visual mixtapes. The musicians will take their videos on a nationwide tour that kicks off at the Los Angeles Music Video Festival this fall. “Soundscape” was inspired by Dr. Stacy L. Smith’s research initiative at USC Annenberg, examining the inclusion of women in the artistic ranks and the business side of the music industry. Another study by Dr. Smith was the inspiration for Refinery29’s ShatterBox Anthology series with female film directors.
  • 29Rooms LA: Back for its third year, the in-real-life experiential event that blends art, fashion and technology for the first time will be held in Los Angeles. In addition to the new L.A. edition, R29 is developing an augmented reality layer expanding 29Room’s digital footprint.


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