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Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors lands Warner Bros. TV production deal

Patrisse Cullors has a new production deal with Warner Bros. Television.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors has signed an overall production deal with Warner Bros. Television Group to create original programming that raises Black voices on streaming services and traditional TV channels.

The multiyear agreement, announced Thursday, represents Cullors’ first overall production deal with a Hollywood studio. Building on her political activism, the Los Angeles native plans to work with the studio to develop scripted dramas and comedies, docuseries and animated programming for children, young adults and families.

“Black voices, especially Black voices who have been historically marginalized, are important and integral to today’s storytelling,” Cullors said in a statement. “Our perspective and amplification is necessary and vital to helping shape a new narrative for our families and communities.”

Warner Bros. said it would collaborate with Cullors in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and to provide more opportunities for Black producers, writers and other talent.

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With Melina Abdullah and Patrisse Cullors playing key roles, Black Lives Matter has transformed from a small but passionate movement into a cultural and political phenomenon.

The pact underscores how major Hollywood studios have scrambled this year to be more proactive in seeking diverse voices to work in front of and behind the camera. The George Floyd protests over the summer jolted Hollywood executives, who have said they recognize they must do a better job hiring and promoting people of color.

In July, the CBS Television Studios entered into a multiyear agreement with the NAACP to develop and produce documentaries and scripted and unscripted content. CBS said its goal was to tell “inclusive stories that increase the visibility and impact of Black artists in a growing media landscape.”

Warner Bros. declined to disclose financial terms of its deal with Cullors.

Cullors has advocated for antiracist policies and criminal justice reform for more than two decades. In recent years, she has become an increasingly influential voice for reform. She cofounded Black Lives Matter seven years ago along with Melina Abdullah, also of Los Angeles, following the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida.

The verdict prompted Oakland activist Alicia Garza to post on Facebook, “Our lives matter.” Cullors then turned the expression into a hashtag: #BlackLivesMatter, and New York activist Opal Tometi built a digital platform.

Cullors serves as executive director of the Black Lives Matter Global Network and is founder of the L.A.-based organization Dignity and Power Now. She is the author of the bestselling 2018 book “When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir.” In addition, she is faculty director of a graduate-level social and environmental arts program that she began developing last year at Arizona’s Prescott College.

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The artist and activist also has experience in television as a former staff writer at Freeform series “Good Trouble,” as well as an actor on the show.

“As a longtime community organizer and social justice activist, I believe that my work behind the camera will be an extension of the work I’ve been doing for the last twenty years,” Cullors said in Thursday’s statement. “I look forward to amplifying the talent and voices of other Black creatives through my work.”


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