Partnering with P&G and Tribeca Studios, the influential Queen Latifah has started The Queen Collective, a program attempting to bridge the gender and racial gap in Hollywood filmmaking. It offers mentoring, production funding, and distribution opportunities for women of color trying to breakthrough in film.
Queen Latifah says the initiative was inspired by her late mother, who always encouraged her daughter to give back and be kind to others.
Latifah is known for her work as an activist, addressing issues in music and culture. She has been regarded as “one of the most influential women in hip-hop” by BlackPast.org for fighting against the heavily misogynistic genre in the 90s. She also believes that the key to changing racial bias is love, not violence. Latifah is now taking that energy and applying it to the world of film, an industry that is in desperate need of change.
The Queen Collective comes at a necessary time in film production. A survey of last year’s top 250 films revealed that only 8% of its collective directors were women. That number is three percent down from a survey conducted on 2017’s top 250 films, indicating a decline.
The statistics worsen when race and ethnicity are also considered. Black filmmakers made history in 2018, though even that accomplishment is credited only to men. Racial diversity is getting better in Hollywood filmmaking, but women are being left out of the equation. After all, only 4 of last year’s top 100 films were directed by women of color.
“Generally, a movie hires around 150 people. That’s 150 jobs that can be filled by women, women of various backgrounds, and men of course. I’d like to see my cast and crew look like the world. I don’t want to look out, and just see one type of person,” says Queen Latifah.
Films made and/or led by women often increase the chances of more women being involved behind the camera. Statistics show that when women are in charge, they’re more likely to hire women writers, editors, and cinematographers. Women create more opportunities for women. In these settings, they have more space to share creative ideas without feeling undermined by men.
The Queen Collective has so far supported two short films produced by women of color. If There Is Light, directed by Haley Anderson, tells the story of a fourteen year old girl in New York City transitioning from life in the shelter system to a secure, permanent home. Brittany “B.Monet” Fernell’s Ballet After Dark shows how sexual assault survivors find a way to heal through dance therapy. Both documentary films are currently available to stream on Hulu.