Producers Eva Longoria and Charles D. King shared their frustrations today at the Produced By conference, relating that studios tell them they looked for diverse crew members, but couldn’t find any. MACRO CEO King and UnbeliEVAble Entertainment founder Longoria said they are creating a database of diverse talent they can present to studios when faced with that question.
“We have to do the work,” Longoria said at a keynote talk for the Produced By conference. “Every time I produce something, I bring my crew list.”
Longoria and King said they share the list amongst each other, and with other filmmakers like Ava DuVernay. DuVernay has gone a step further, creating the Array Crew database, accessible by studios.
Even with a list of resumes, Longoria said producers must advocate for talent to get a chance. Longoria is directing the movie Flamin’ Hot for Searchlight Pictures. She was met with resistance against hiring cinematographer Federico Cantini for his first feature film.
“They kept saying he never has done a movie of this size,” Longoria said. “I said, ‘I haven’t done a movie this size.’ You haven’t done it until you’ve done it. It’s like the chicken or the egg.”
King agreed with Longoria that their role as producers involves fighting to elevate other diverse talent.
“A lot of times we’re taking a leap and you have to fill the gaps,” King said. “You just have to keep calling all your friends and everybody but they’re out there. There’s enough people with some level of experience to take the leap to the next level.”
King also recommended Flamin’ Hot writer Linda Yvette Chavez to Longoria. King allowed Longoria to read a script Chavez wrote for him, but could not share that writing sample with another studio. In fact, Longoria credited producer DeVon Franklin and fellow actor Kerry Washington with recommending her for the directing gig.
“I’m me,” Longoria said. “You would think I could get in the door. It still took an advocate for me to get in the door. These things help. You have to use this opportunity, meet people, nurture those relationships in this industry.”
Longoria said her own agents sometimes get annoyed when she advocates for other actors for roles she herself is auditioning for. Longoria said she once recommended Roselyn Sanchez and Diana Maria Riva for a role she didn’t think she was right for.
“My agent would call me [and say,] ‘If you pitch one more other actress in your audition we’re not sending you anymore,’” Longoria said.