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Kenya Barris, Rashida Jones Get Partner Stakes In BET Studios – The Hollywood Reporter




ViacomCBS officially launches BET Studios, which will provide black creatives with an equity stake and a production location for outlets inside and outside the media conglomerate.

Kenya Barris – who walked out of a nine-figure deal with Netflix for a stake in the company – Rashida Jones and TO CRUSH co-creator Aaron Rahsaan Thomas will be the main partners of BET Studios. The former director of Warner Bros. TV, Aisha Summers Burke, will lead the studio as executive vice president and general manager.

“The demand for premium content from black creators has accelerated dramatically due to the rapid evolution of media and social landscapes,” said Scott Mills, president of BET. “BET, with our 40-year heritage of celebrating black culture and the full power of the ViacomCBS ecosystem, is uniquely positioned to meet this demand. As a black entrepreneurial company, we are extremely excited to create the first major studio to offer black creators the ownership, creative freedom and unprecedented partnership and support of BET. I am delighted to have Aisha at the helm of this company, and I look forward to our collaboration with our amazing creative partners in BET Studios.

Barris detailed his stint at ViacomCBS in June hollywood reporter cover story, saying at the time, “I wanna get shit in your face. I want to sell to everyone – and if you don’t want to work with me I’m not saying you’re racist, but others might.

BET Studios will produce series for ViacomCBS outlets including Paramount +, CBS, Showtime, Nickelodeon, BET, and the BET + streaming service, and will also look to sell to third-party platforms. Barris said THR he and the writers he recruited have ideas for Hulu, Starz, and Apple.

“The investment made by Scott, David Nevins, Bob Bakish and the ViacomCBS team in BET Studios is not just an investment in black storytelling, it is also an investment in culture,” Barris said in a statement. . “And while the individual success is tremendous, being able to amplify and champion underrepresented storytellers has been equally exciting and this endeavor allows this to continue to be a key focus in this next chapter of my career.”

Jones said, “There is such power in the creative talent that major partners bring to the table and BET Studios’ unique ability to tell black stories on a large scale. This union of forces is super exciting for me in the multitude of ways people of color see themselves on screen.

Thomas added, “As a new venture, BET Studios offers the opportunity to extend the brand’s heritage in delivering dark stories. It’s a chance to bring nuanced, layered narratives to life, in partnership with a forward-thinking team, interested in surprising and engaging audiences.

Burke spent 13 years at Warner Bros., most recently as scripted TV vp for the cable and streaming division of Warner Horizon before merging with WBTV last year.

“BET has long been famous for its excellence in producing quality programming that authentically describes the lived experiences of the Black community,” said Burke. “With the launch of BET Studios, we’re excited to introduce a new model that opens up openness to a wide range of platforms and supports the full range of content from black creators. This entrepreneurial environment offers creatives the opportunity to produce diverse, high-end content that reflects all aspects of entertainment. “




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