'Nigerian Prince' Wins $1M AT&T Grant at Tribeca Film Festival
"If we're going to truly reflect our customers and their experiences and their lives, we have to help those stories get told," AT&T Chief Brand Officer Fiona Carter told DiversityInc.
Diversity and inclusion in Hollywood, both in front of and behind the camera, has been a major topic of debate around the country.
UCLA's recent Hollywood Diversity Report found that film and television content that is more diverse tends to be more successful. Yet, people of color are still underrepresented in fields such as writing and film directing.
AT&T (No. 4 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list) and Tribeca Film Festival, along with the year-round nonprofit Tribeca Film Institute, have partnered to launch "AT&T Presents: Untold Stories." The competition gives underrepresented filmmakers in the industry opportunities they have not had before.
At a luncheon in New York City on Tuesday it was announced that Faraday Okoro, a Nigerian American filmmaker, won the inaugural competition's top prize.
Okoro is a graduate of Howard University and NYU Graduate Film School. He will not only receive a $1 million grant, but his film "Nigerian Prince" will be distributed across DIRECTV, DIRECTV NOW and U-verse. And, his film will premiere at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival.
AT&T is increasingly becoming an entertainment company, including its planned merger with Time Warner (No. 37). The company's partnership with Tribeca Film Festival creates an avenue to celebrate inclusivity in storytelling.
The idea for "Untold Stories" derived from a conversation between Jane Rosenthal, co-founder and executive chair of the Tribeca Film Festival, and AT&T Chief Brand Officer Fiona Carter.
"We've been a sponsor of Tribeca Film Festival for four years, and we've had a wonderful partnership," Carter told DiversityInc at the luncheon.
"But I wanted AT&T to play a real role and make a real impact not only on the world of film and content, but also on an individual.
"We have 150 million customers. America was originally in our name. And if we're going to truly reflect our customers and their experiences and their stories and their lives, we have to help those stories get told."
Carter said that as she and Rosenthal were talking it became clear they share a personal passion around ensuring that the "real diversity of voice" is heard.
The Competition and Judging
Okoro competed with other "Untold Stories" filmmaker finalists Andres Perez-Duarte, Lissette Feliciano, Ani Simon-Kennedy and A. Sayeeda Moreno, who pitched their projects during a Facebook Live event Tuesday morning.
Carter was a part of the greenlight committee that evaluated the scripts and pitches. Prominent entertainment professionals on the committee included Lee Daniels, film director, writer and producer; Jeffrey Wright, producer and actor; Anthony Mackie, actor; Chairman and CEO of Downtown Records Josh Deutsch; President of HBO Films Len Amato; and Braven Films CEO Frida Torresblanco.
There was stiff competition for the $1 million prize.
"It's a huge decision," Carter said. "A million dollars is a life-changer in this business. And, I think it was this morning that we all really processed the impact of that, seeing young filmmakers on the brink of being able to kick their careers off; it was high stakes."
Each filmmaker surely brought their A-game to the pitch session, as Lee Daniels told DiversityInc: "It was a blood bath to get that million dollars."
Okoro's winning film, "Nigerian Prince," is a story about a stubborn Nigerian American teenager who, after being sent to Nigeria against his will, joins forces with an Internet scammer in order to return to the United States.
"This film rose to the top because it's simply a unique story that literally nobody has seen before," Carter said.
"It just has a voice and an energy that is truly new, and truly fresh. We couldn't think of another film that had told that story. And we felt it really deserved the prize for that real, true uniqueness."
Carter also said that each of the finalists will receive a $10,000 grant to go toward the production of their films.
"Untold Stories" Reflects AT&T's Culture
Cynt Marshall, AT&T senior vice president and chief diversity officer, was present at the luncheon; attendees also included actor and Tribeca co-founder Robert De Niro as well as actors Jussie Smollett, La La Anthony, Brandon Victor Dixon, Malik Yoba and Andre Holland.
Marshall told DiversityInc that "Untold Stories" is a reflection of AT&T's culture.
"This program is another example of where we say, 'every voice matters,'" she explained.
"If there is any doubt in anyone's mind about whether or not AT&T can make a difference in the entertainment space, today is an example.
"It's not just about what's on your screen. It is about what is in the heart of AT&T and how we can tap into the hearts of other people.
"And what we did today was touch the souls, the hearts and the minds and the dreams of these artists. That's the impact we have in the entertainment space."
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson had a candid and honest conversation on diversity and inclusion with more than 1,000 employee resource group members at a conference in Dallas in September.
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson Forthrightly Addresses Current Racial Tensions, Says 'the dialogue must start with me'
Addressing 1,700 resource group members, Stephenson discusses all the tough issues — and in an honest, forthright, personal and humble way.
Stephenson urged his staff to have difficult conversations about race and not just be tolerant of each other. A cell phone video of his speech went viral on social media.
AT&T's Olga Serna
Olga Serna is a senior marketing manager at AT&T who has been involved in the partnership between Tribeca and the company since its inception. Serna told DiversityInc that AT&T's culture of inclusiveness is important to her.
"Quite frankly, I don't know that personally I could work at a company that didn't foster inclusiveness from the top down," she said.
"[In May] I will be with AT&T for 10 years. And from the moment that I stepped into the company, it truly felt that this company recognizes that the benefit and the advantage that we will have as a company truly comes from a diverse workforce."
Serna also said that the connection between AT&T, Tribeca Film Festival and Tribeca Film Institute is an ideal one because of a shared commitment to give a voice to underrepresented filmmakers.
"For the last 14 years, Tribeca Film Institute has been working at finding underrepresented filmmakers and they've sifted through countless screenplays and they've seen the passion of these filmmakers."
"AT&T Presents: Untold Stories" competition and luncheon kicked off the annual Tribeca Film festival, which runs through April 30. Submissions for next year's competition will open September 6 through November 6.
Break the habit and take the pledge to end distracted driving in and out of the car at ItCanWait.com.
Originally Published by AT&T.
By Ryan Luckey, Assistant Vice President, Corporate Brand Marketing
The roads can be a scary place. Drivers are taking their eyes off the road to look at their latest like, text or email.
And with the introduction of shared e-scooters, the latest in transportation innovation, it's more important than ever for riders and drivers to keep their eyes on the road.
One hand on the handlebar, another on the phone, then bam. You hit a pothole.
Tens of thousands of injuries – and hundreds of deaths – occur every year due to smartphone distracted driving. This is the unfortunate reality our AT&T It Can Wait program continues to address since 2010.
And now it's becoming clear smartphone distractions are no longer just a problem in the car.
The winner, MindRight, provides a judgement-free mobile platform that empowers youth of color to heal from systemic oppression by offering support and personalized live coaching via text message.
Originally Published by AT&T.
AT&T launched its inaugural Pitches with Purpose earlier this month in Dallas, with 8 companies from this year's AT&T Aspire Accelerator class competing for $25,000 for their cause.
Participating companies gave a 3-minute pitch to a panel of company executives and employees. In the end, MindRight took the top prize. The company provides a judgement-free mobile platform that empowers youth of color to heal from systemic oppression by offering support and personalized live coaching via text message.
The AT&T Aspire Accelerator funds entrepreneurs creating education solutions with technology. It is part of AT&T's signature philanthropic initiative, Aspire. AT&T launched Aspire in 2008 to provide access to education and training people need to get and keep good jobs.
Now celebrating Aspire's 10th anniversary, AT&T has committed $450 million to programs to help millions of students in all 50 states and around the world since 2008.
AT&T's First-Ever Untold Stories Film 'Nigerian Prince' Debuted in Theaters and On Demand Everywhere
The first film funded and distributed by ongoing Diversity & Inclusion Program from AT&T and Tribeca.
Originally Published by AT&T.
AT&T Presents: Untold Stories is proud to bring the program's first-ever film – NIGERIAN PRINCE – to audiences nationwide on Friday, October, 19. Untold Stories is a film initiative created by AT&T and Tribeca to ensure diverse voices in storytelling are heard and seen in theaters and living rooms across the country. Written and directed by newcomer Faraday Okoro, and filmed in Lagos, Nigeria, the film is a heist thriller about a Nigerian-American teenager sent to visit relatives in Nigeria against his will, later to join forces with his internet scammer cousin in an attempt to return to the United States on his own.
Kicking off the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, Okoro was one of five aspiring directors who participated in a live pitch to a panel of celebrity and industry judges that included AT&T's chief brand officer Fiona Carter to win $1 million to make their film utilizing the Untold Stories program grant, mentorship and distribution commitments. Okoro's film, NIGERIAN PRINCE, had its world premiere at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival to rave reviews and packed theaters in New York City. Now, delivering on the program's promise to ensure that underserved artists' work is not only created but seen, NIGERIAN PRINCE will be available to millions of movie enthusiasts in select theaters across the country as well as on DIRECTV, U-Verse and a range of on-demand platforms.
"Programs like Untold Stories have the incredible power to introduce audiences to new storytellers and new ways of seeing the world," said Jane Rosenthal, ceo and co-founder of Tribeca Enterprises/Tribeca Film Festival. "We're proud to support Faraday Okoro's globe-trotting, culture-crossing film NIGERIAN PRINCE as the first recipient of the Untold Stories grant, and we are eager to champion other emerging filmmakers as we continue to get untold stories heard with our friends at AT&T."
NIGERIAN PRINCE follows two characters: Eze, a stubborn, first generation Nigerian-American teenager and his cousin, Pius, who is a desperate Nigerian Prince scammer. After Eze's mother sends him to Nigeria against his will, Eze retaliates by teaming up with Pius to scam unsuspecting foreigners in order to earn money for a return ticket back to America. Executive produced by Spike Lee, the film stars Chinaza Uche and Antonio Bell.
AT&T Presents: Untold Stories. An Inclusive Film Program in Collaboration with Tribeca was launched in 2017 to ensure that diverse storytellers always have a screen on which to shine. AT&T will provide funding up to $1 million for one talented filmmaker to create his or her film each year, and Tribeca will provide mentorship from seasoned industry professionals. AT&T will distribute the winning film across its video platforms. This film initiative is an alliance between AT&T and Tribeca along with Tribeca Film Institute and debuted at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival.
NIGERIAN PRINCE is the first film produced under the program. In April of 2018, AT&T awarded its second $1 million to Untold Stories winners Sasie Sealy and Angela Cheng for their film, LUCKY GRANDMA. Like NIGERIAN PRINCE, it will also have its world premiere screening during the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival next April. Submissions are now open for Year 3 – and aspiring filmmakers are encouraged to submit scripts between now and Nov. 24, 2018, for their chance to compete for a $1 million grant to make their film as part of AT&T Presents: Untold Stories.
For additional information about UNTOLD STORIES, please visit: http://about.att.com/sites/entertainment/untold_stories
Enterprise Customers Get Venue to Co-Create Innovative Technologies to Solve Industry-Specific Challenges.
Originally Published by AT&T.
Revolutionary technology breakthroughs in business don't happen by accident. That's why AT&T* is launching a vertical industry-focused space at the AT&T Foundry in Plano to showcase our edge-to-edge network capabilities and develop transformative technologies.
AT&T, Aira Use Groundbreaking Technology to Bring Retail Experience to Blind & Low- Vision Shoppers at Over 5,300 AT&T Retail Locations.
Originally Published by AT&T.
AT&T* and Aira continue to expand their relationship to bring new experiences to the blind and those with low vision. This time, it's the customer experience. All AT&T company-owned retail and authorized retail stores are now Aira Access Locations. That means that any member of the blind and low-vision community with a smartphone can become an Aira Guest and can get free use of Aira's service at over 5,300 AT&T retail locations across the U.S.
Being Black in Hollywood often comes with a price and regret.
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Reputation is what others think of you. Character is who you are. It's something you own.
Originally Published by Linkedin.com.
By David Huntley, Senior Executive Vice President - Chief Compliance Officer
I had the honor of addressing the incoming class of full-time MBA candidates at SMU, my alma mater. After sharing how the continuous reinvention of my career parallels that of AT&T's, I provided 6 lessons I've learned along the way. At the encouragement of others, I'm sharing them with you. Regardless of your industry, profession, personal background or career aspirations, I hope you find value in them.
#1 Seek out and identify mentors and sponsors – No matter where your career path takes you, you'll always need the assistance of others, whether that's sponsors or mentors. To realize your fullest potential, you must seek out people who can help you throughout your journey. Some will be mentors: people willing to lend advice and help you find your way. Others will be sponsors: people that won't simply mentor you, but advocate on your behalf and champion your efforts. Having both will help you reach the career aspirations you've set for yourself.
#2 Persevere – Never give up. At times, you'll experience what you may see as roadblocks. They're not. They're simply speedbumps that require more introspection to help determine the right path forward. You must have the resolve to persevere. Struggle leads to progress. Just think, what would happen if Steve Jobs had stopped the first time he was fired from his own company. We probably wouldn't have the iPhone and Apple probably wouldn't be the first publicly traded trillion-dollar company. Instead, he persevered, stayed true and reached his goals.
#3 Be flexible and embrace change – Greek philosopher Heraclitus is cited as the source of the saying "change is the only constant in life." Joining AT&T as a junior lawyer almost 25 years ago, I expected to practice corporate law through retirement. That wasn't the case. I've spent roughly half of my AT&T career in the Legal department, the other half in operations. And while I'm not a practicing attorney today, I still lean on my legal background on a daily basis. Bringing a foundation in the law to an operations role has only increased my value. So, if change is constant, you must be able to embrace it. If you can't, you'll limit your career options.
#4 Stay relevant and be proactive – Always be learning. You can't stay relevant if you keep your head down. Identify your strengths and continuously develop them. If you have an interest in something, but lack the knowledge, do the work. Always be learning. Whether that's reading, attending training or going back to school, the only way you'll stay relevant is by knowing the latest trends. If you don't remain relevant, then the tools you possess will dull and your value will fall.
#5 Compete the right way – Who doesn't like competition? Healthy competition makes us better. It's when we compete by cutting corners, cheating or sabotaging others that we lose, even while "winning." Because those that you undercut will always remember. They may forgive you, but they'll never forget. And you never know who you might work with, or work for, in the future.
#6 Exercise humility – Admit that you don't have all the answers. The best leaders surround themselves with the best people, so they know who to go to when they don't know the answers. Every great leader also has great people behind them. No one gets to where they are on their own. The sooner you recognize this, the more effective you'll lead. And, one last thing, boldly recognize the great work of others. Give credit where credit is due. Who doesn't want recognition from time to time. This accomplishes two things. It shows your humility, endearing others to you. And it shows others you value their contributions and they're deserving of praise.
The Wrap Up
The last thing I left the MBA candidates with was the importance of character. You can do all the things I've shared above to help position you for success, but character is key. Reputation is what others think of you. Character is who you are. It's something you own. If you haven't started to really focus on it, you must. And while you do, keep integrity at the center.
After all, how do you want to be remembered?