Building a Culture of Inclusion and Diversity in the Film Industry

Building a Culture of Inclusion and Diversity in the Film Industry

Yolonda Brinkley

Entertainment Publicist, Event Producer, Integrator, Community Builder

An entertainment publicist finds her calling, ensuring the stories of the underrepresented are heard at the greatest storytelling festival on earth.

Yolonda Brinkley noticed something the first time she attended the Cannes Film Festival in 2009: it was easy to get lost in the shuffle, and although it was promoted as a cross-cultural event, minorities and newcomers to the festival were often disoriented and given few to no resources to navigate it. In spite of her previous education in the South of France and her command of the French language, she felt “like an outsider”. She observed the disheartening isolation of some amazing storytellers from countries like Ghana, Mexico, and Brazil, and female, African American and LGBT communities.

From her years in Los Angeles, Yolonda understood that the lack of diversity in film was a serious issue, and decided to do something about it at one of the industry’s most glamorous annual events. While diversity is finally a trending topic in Hollywood and the global film community, Diversity in Cannes has been in the trenches fighting for inclusion for 7 years.

Since its inception, the movement has grown from a simple filmmaker symposium to a comprehensive program with global and US based components including a short film showcase, a pre-Cannes Film Festival information session and a short film tour. Diversity in Cannes has embraced hundreds of diverse festival goers from across the globe and has hosted panelists from 5 continents. They have had esteemed filmmakers including Michael Rowe, the 2010 Festival de Cannes Golden Camera Award Winner and Alrick Brown Sundance’s 2011 World Cinema Award Winner, along with Annemarie Jacir, the first Palestinian feature filmmaker in 2012, and Festival de Cannes Alum, as they celebrated global women in film. The forum encourages dialogue amongst emerging filmmakers willing to think outside the box and beyond borders for opportunities to develop, finance and distribute their films.

Yolonda and her organization are prepping for the 2016 Cannes Film Festival in May. Her next event will be at the California African American Museum, Los Angeles. Select short films from the Diversity in Cannes catalog of submissions will screen Wednesdays in April from 7-9pm. Filmmakers will be attendance for Q&A after the screenings.

You can see more about her preparatory seminars here or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Types of Events: Entertainment industry symposiums, seminars, networking events, parties

Yolonda’s Hobnob Experience:

Since my introduction to Hobnob, I've been able to manage event invitations and responses directly from my cell phone, which frees up time to actually focus on the planning and implementation of Diversity in Cannes programs.

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