replicas of the covey (flock) of synchronous communication satellites
that were used to televise the 19th Olympic Games from Mexico City to
audiences in Europe and Japan. The satellites are shown at Hughes
Aircraft Company, Culver City, California where they were built for NASA
and Comsat Corporation. In the center is a full- scale model of the
Intelsat II satellite, which was used by Comsat to send color TV direct
to Japan via a Hughes ground station installed near San Jose,
California. Left of Intelsat is the NASA’s ATS-3 (Application Technology
Satellites), which transmitted the picture portion of the Olympics to
Europe and the Early Bird (right) transmitted the voice commentary of
the European telecast in a dozen languages. These communication
satellites went into orbit over the Atlantic in April 1965.
Writer, producer, director and actress Issa Rae may identify with the titular character in her wildly successful webseries The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl, but she’s not letting a little awkwardness stop her from using her considerable talents and massive following–her YouTube content has a combined 25 million+ views–to bring new voices to the public. Her latest venture, ColorCreative.tv, develops and produces video projects by writers who are historically underrepresented in this space, providing a built-in platform and audience to propel them to television success by circumventing the traditional pilot process.
“I started Color Creative to give opportunities to talented women and writers of color,“ says the 29-year-old Los Angeles native. "I get tired of hearing that we don’t appeal to a ‘broad audience,’ whatever that means. We’re providing opportunities and showcasing stories that aren’t being told anywhere else.” Rae dreamed up the initiative in August 2013 while reading a script from a new writer that struck her as a better fit for television than the web. “We’re an independent television network disrupting traditional models to make them more inclusive.” Though she started out on the web, producing her first digital series, Dorm Diaries in 2007, Rae eventually set her sights on network TV. In 2013, she developed a show with Shonda Rhimes (creator of Scandaland Grey’s Anatomy), which was ultimately not picked up.
“Having gone through the pilot process with networks, I realize how formulaic and long it can be; and through that process, a new writer’s voice can get buried in notes. Not only that, but the pilot process can be super inefficient, millions of dollars spent on concepts that may never see the light of day,” Rae says. “So, with some networks deciding to do away with the ancient process in general, I’ve created a content startupthat produces low-budget pilots written by writers who are either women or minorities, showcases them to an audience, and hand delivers them to broadcast, cable and Internet networks. The hope is to get audiences excited about the great content that they’re not seeing on television.”
So far, so good. Rae has already brought four full series to her online network under the Color Creative banner: Roomieloverfriends, which examines the lives of roommates with benefits; How Men Become Dogs, about men who decide they don’t want to be nice guys anymore; First, which chronicles a new couple’s milestones; andHard Times, the story of a personal trainer who moonlights as a stripper. And fans are watching them–Rae racks up 3,000 new subscribers and more than 3 million minutes of viewing time each month. And she premiered three new well-received comedy pilots–Bleach, Words With Girls and So Jaded–at last week’s Urbanworld Film Festival.
“This year one of my resolutions was to increase the people of color I am watching on all platforms. With another year of an all white Oscars, it is so important that we celebrate our media producers that are Black, Indigenous, and People Of Color (BIPOC). New streaming services are launching for this purpose, like Kweli, “an interactive streaming platform exclusively for the global black community,” or NativeFlix, which hosts movies and series produced by and for Indigenous People. Thanks to efforts like these, online hubs are curating content to reflect real diversity.
Yet long-standing social media platforms like YouTube are still not pulling their weight promoting channels run by the diverse YouTubers of color. Popular Youtuber, Franchesca Ramsey told Fusion, “Many people of color struggle to reach the same level of visibility on YouTube as white content creators.” In light of that I wanted to share some of my favorite YouTubers of Color. In no particular order, here are some of my faves from beauty bloggers to chefs to feminists with brilliant social commentary.”