The brainchild of Actor, Writer, Producer & Founder of Hollywood Here, Inc, Jessie B. Evans, and Writer, Ashley Soto Paniagua, #RaiseThePercentage was created with the initiative to help raise the number of black writers in writer’s rooms across America. They aim to provide black writers with the opportunity to meet with and get mentored by Hollywood gatekeepers and decision makers.
2020 has been a remarkable year for bringing awareness to #RaiseThePercentage. Jessie B. Evans, Ashley Soto Paniagua, and Hollywood Here Inc. put together several Virtual Coffee events throughout the year. The week of Juneteenth was exceptional for them. They coordinated 1,078 Virtual Coffee events, bringing more attention to their goal.
For this virtual event black writers were able to connect and have a one on one conversation for thirty minutes with an established (the established writers were not all black, the aspiring writers were all black) writer. Some of the well-known professional TV writers that participated in this event were:
- Power on Starz Creator, Courtney Kemp
- Grey’s Anatomy Showrunner, Krista Vernoff
- Better Call Saul Showrunner, Peter Gould
- You’s on Netflix Showrunner, Sera Gamble
- Pose’s Co-Creator, Steven Canals
Abbi Jacobson and Rachel Bloom were also among the names of over 300 successful TV writers who were willing to share their advice and offer their mentorship. Over 1000 aspiring black writers were lucky enough to connect with these successful individuals for a virtual coffee chat.
Aline Brosh McKenna (writer from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and The Devil Wears Prada) was blown away by the event. Everyone she had the opportunity to speak with was wonderful and she felt as though this event was a true gift.
What #RaiseThePercentage Has Been Able To Do Since
The Virtual Coffee campaign was incredibly successful and was able to reach over 7 million people’s timelines on social media to teach them about the initiative. Industry leader Final Draft and Abbi Jacobson were both so impressed by the event that they offered to continue supporting Hollywood Here. Final Draft even gifted 300 copies of Final Draft 11 to black writers who participated in the #RaiseThePercentage Virtual Coffees.
Walt Disney Television was also impressed by the campaign. They contacted Jessie B. Evans and together organized a Virtual Coffee event during the last two weeks of August. They had 90 different executives from various television networks have virtual coffees with over 700 black writers.
Next on the list for virtual coffees is Sony Pictures Television. Jessie will organize a SPT Virtual Coffee week to be held between December 7th – 13th. Although a job is not guaranteed by these events, it does introduce them to the right people they need to know to get their foot in the door. Sometimes in Hollywood, makng random acquaintances can help people land their dream jobs.
Bringing awareness to #RaiseThePercentage is not about giving special privileges to black writers. They just want to provide them with a fair chance. It is their mission to help provide creative writers with the tools and knowledge so they can follow their dreams from any geographical location.
For more information, visit Jessie’s Instagram page at www.instagram.com/aboutjbe or Hollywood Here’s page at www.instagram.com/HollywoodHereInc or catch up with them on Twitter www.Twitter.com/PrettyBoyJ or www.Twitter.com/Hollywood_Here