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Black Hollywood is on fire with blockbusters like Hidden Figures, Fences and Moonlight blazing the box offices and shoring up awards. These incredible stories and the actors depicting them have beautifully displayed the many shades of our diverse and powerful culture. We can’t help but wonder— is it enough?
RYSE, The industry’s newest start-up thinks not! RYSE has launched a new video streaming app with empowering on-demand programming targeted at multicultural audiences. From movies and documentaries to web series, RYSE licenses content from multicultural creatives and streams the programming on their subscription based platform. Utilizing a model much like Netflix, RYSE offers an additional outlet for minority indie filmmakers to monetize and distribute their content.
RYSE founder/ CEO Jay Jackson shares, “Until recently, stories regarding people of color have often gone ignored in Hollywood. What is often misunderstood is that we don’t just want to see black faces in white spaces, we want stories-lines we can connect with. We want to see, hear and understand ourselves through the images we see on screen and in the media.”
Jackson initially launched RYSE several years ago as a print and digital media company that focused on sharing empowering stories of upwardly mobile multicultural millennials but recently expanded the company into the VOD arena. “I was sick and tired of black people always being portrayed in stereotypical ways that weren’t always positive. If we only see ourselves displayed in negative stereotypical was, then that behavior becomes normalized in future generations. Our culture consists of so much more.”
Accessibility hasn’t always been easy for emerging black filmmakers and producers trying to break into Hollywood. They oftentimes lack the necessary connections to get in front of studio executives to have a project green-lit. For those who have been able to navigate the path, they often find themselves being asked to whitewash their stories or include items that may often be considered stereotypical.
RYSE prides itself on being a platform for the under-represented that is unfiltered, unconventional and unapologetic. Much like the more well-known video streaming platforms, RYSE also has a lineup of original programming currently in production exclusively for their platform. Their first original series is currently in production. Blerds; a dramedy centered around a black female startup founder navigating the path of an entrepreneur in the white male-dominated tech industry.
Nakia Stephens is an award-winning screenwriter and producer who is currently working on several projects with RYSE. She has experienced first-hand the difficulties many indie filmmakers face when it comes to securing distribution opportunities and monetizing their films. “With Black Indie Filmmakers the Creativity is there, it’s the lack of funding and resources that seem to be the problem. Black Folks typically don’t have the luxury of asking mom and dad for $30,000 to make a film, we literally have to hustle and grind to get our stories told and that’s why we deserve platforms like RYSE.”
In celebration of launching their new app, RYSE is hosting an event on March 1st with Actress/Producer Terri J. Vaughn (best known as Lovita from The Steve Harvey Show, Girlfriends Getaway and Meet the Browns). As part of the event, Jackson and Vaughn will be facilitating a discussion on the importance of empowering black images in today’s media.
Support has proven to be strong, with partnerships with Fortune 500 companies including Pepsi, and governmental organizations like the City of Atlanta’s Office of Film and Entertainment department. “Brands understand that millennials consume content in a totally different manner from previous generations. They are no longer moved by standard commercials. As a result, brands have been more open to working with content producers who can assist them in presenting/ marketing their products and services in a more authentic, unobtrusive way.” states Jackson.
To RYSE is to elevate or increase in rank, status, position, reputation, fortune, influence, or power. By creating a platform to showcase and inspire not only future generations but those who thought it impossible, RYSE is for the culture. To learn more about the RYSE App, you can download it for Apple, Android, Windows & Amazon devices by visiting www.gettheRYSEapp.com. For filmmakers interested in submitting content, they can visit their main site at www.ontheryse.com.