CBS Studios has set in motion two initiatives focused on providing a diverse range of emerging creators with opportunities in filmmaking and casting.
First, CBS Studios has announced a new casting fellowship targeted toward BIPOC representation. Developed to address the diversity gap in the casting industry, the 10-week program allows fellows to have a fully immersive, hands-on experience working in a casting office, along with mentorship from the studio’s casting executives.
The studio has also set its second cohort for the CBS Leadership Pipeline Challenge, which arms 35 early-career storytellers with $5,000 budgets to make mission-inspired short films.
“We always strive to create opportunities for prospective executives… In only its second year, this inclusive program is helping us grow an even more vibrant and motivated studio team,” CBS Studios President David Stapf said of the initiatives conceived by casting executives Lori Erickson and Rob Decina.
“We are very proud of them and proud for CBS Studios to be home to an initiative that will surely help advance the next generation of writers, producers and casting executives,” Stapf added.
Likewise, Meg Liberman, CBS Studios’ EVP of talent and casting, noted the casting fellowship’s aim to address the lack of BIPOC casting talent within the industry as a whole.
“CBS Studios is committed to diversity and inclusion both in front of and behind the camera,” she stated. “This program will nurture future casting professionals through hands-on experience, mentorship and networking opportunities.”
Erickson, who serves as vice president of casting at CBS Studios, similarly reflected on the legacy of the pipeline program.
“When the world feels rather bleak, it fills me with hope to see these talented changemakers working together and telling community-centered stories bigger than ourselves, and to work at a company that wholeheartedly invests in the too-often-overlooked creative forces within our own organization and within our industry,” she said.
In its second year, and with $300,000 in donations for local nonprofits as awards, the Leadership Pipeline Challenge matches participants with executive mentors and gives them access to department leads across CBS Studios, in addition to educational programming around leadership, collaboration, filmmaking and design thinking.
Challenge participants include members of the junior workforce across all Paramount divisions, as well as emerging writers, directors, editors, casting directors and cinematographers who have been nominated by nine partnering coalitions (NAACP, MPAC, CAPE, NHMC, Casting Society Cares, Easterseals Disability Film Challenge, Film2Future, Ghetto Film School and Visual Communications).
The five non-profit winners of the Pipeline challenge are FEAST, Friends of the LA River, My Friend’s Place, Painted Brain and OPICA. The participants’ short films will be inspired by their missions, as described below:
FEAST’s mission is to promote health and wellness in communities through the power of healthy foods and human connection.
Friends of the LA River (FOLAR)
FOLAR’s mission is to build capacity for communities, students, and future leaders to advocate for nature, climate, and equity on the Los Angeles River.
My Friend’s Place
The mission of My Friend’s Place is to assist and inspire homeless youth to build self-sufficient lives.
Painted Brain creates lasting community-based solutions to mental health challenges and the impact of social injustice through arts, advocacy, and enterprise.
The mission of OPICA is to improve the lives of adults challenged by memory loss.