Guy Ritchie Funds Year-Long Development Program for Emerging Black Talent

“The Gentlemen” director Guy Ritchie has teamed with U.K. industry org Creative Access to fund a year-long development program for emerging Black talent.

Launched with Creative Access — which supports Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic talent to enter the country’s creative industries — Ritchie has committed to 10 paid internships for Black talent on the production team of his next film and each one thereafter.

“Young Black people from disadvantaged backgrounds are too often at the bottom of the ladder when it comes to career opportunities, especially those in creative industries often perceived as ‘closed,’” said Ritchie.

“We have a very modest initial goal of placing 50 young Black trainees in productions as soon as the current situation allows. With the help, support and guidance of others in the industry we hope that our pilot scheme will grow quickly and our aim is to dramatically increase those numbers and then, as soon as we can, open up the on-set training opportunities to young people from all disadvantaged and under-represented communities — irrespective of the color of their skin.”

Ritchie shared plans to “build a supportive community” for trainees “where they can graduate across our productions, gaining a wealth of hands-on experience, taking on more responsibility as they grow and eventually become employed gainfully in our industry.”

Ritchie will look to recruit other filmmakers to join him as mentors and set up their own internship programs. The first to join up is “The King’s Man” helmer Matthew Vaughn, who has also committed to 10 paid internships on his next film and beyond. In addition, Vaughn is contributing funds for the first development program.

Vaughn said: “Real change is not only about enabling candidates to get a foot through the door but ensuring that they will thrive once they do so. We want to see candidates from a diversity of backgrounds flourish and gain senior roles, in turn offering their insight when bringing in new talent. It is from here we can enable enduring representation in the creative industries.”

The development program fits into Creative Access’s Set Access program, which aims to support a more inclusive workforce across the British film industry, for which Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic representation stands at 3%.

In addition to the development program — which consists of mentoring, training and masterclasses — the org is creating a series of paid internships on U.K. film productions, with the wider goal of creating a new talent pool, spanning a breadth of roles, of at least 250 candidates from underrepresented backgrounds over a five-year period.

Initially, the training opportunities will be open to young Black candidates from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Josie Dobrin, chief executive and co-founder of Creative Access, said: “Creative Access is a community based on the shared values of equity and creativity. Our mission is to help under-represented communities, not just enter the creative industries but to thrive when they get in, because only then will the industry truly reflect and engage broader society.

“Our community has been disproportionately affected by events in recent months and we know that more than anything the one thing needed now is access, which is why we are so thrilled to be working with Guy on both elements of the project. We are grateful for Guy and Matthew’s generosity in financing the Development Program and for providing so many tangible opportunities for talent from under-represented communities in the film industry.”

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