Essence Ventures LLC, parent company of Essence Communications Inc., announced the creation of the $20 million Essence Creators and Makers Fund.
The fund was announced at the company’s 24th Essence Festival this week by Richelieu Dennis, founder and chairman of Essence Ventures, and Queen Latifah.
Queen Latifah’s Flavor Unit Entertainment will be the first partner to work with the fund. Latifah founded and owns the production company with business partner Shakim Compere.
The fund, developed to finance and support the work of creators and makers of color, will produce film, television, digital and documentary-style content that reflects the lives of women of color.
The fund will also place emphasis on collaborating with globally focused content creators to create work that resonates across audiences.
Dennis stated: “The real value in content creation is ownership, and if you look at the funding challenges that creators and makers of color have — whether in film, television or other verticals — they are not getting the capital needed to develop projects. More importantly, they are not getting equity in the projects that they are creating.
"We and our partners will be focused on creating an ecosystem that [creates equity] and elevates opportunities for the creators and makers who need it most.”
The fund has three main goals: creating an economic balance in the ownership of content being created by makers of color; providing access to capital to ensure creators have opportunities to have their work produced; and to provide executives with the support needed to approve projects and position cultural influencers.
Essence will retain the first rights to produce and finance future film, television and digital content with funded creators. It will promote and market the projects funded by the Essence Creators and Makers Fund across its print, digital and live events platforms.
Latifah will serve on the fund’s investment committee, where she will take part in approving investments.