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Blacktag and Versus’ Partnership Puts Action Over Talk

03/10/2023
Production Company
New York, USA
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Partnership aims to amplify black voices and empower black creative talent

Blacktag, a global network for creators that drive culture, and Versus, the premier creator of culture-defining creative and production, announced today a ground breaking new partnership to elevate and empower Black voices. In the months leading up to this announcement, the two organisations have already achieved meaningful impact by kicking off a new project with Meta, hosting their first community workshop, and readying a new unscripted series, 'Close Cuts' (working title) to take to market. 

“This partnership aims to place our network of Black creators in front of a larger audience and provide brands another avenue to fulfil their commitments to diversity and inclusion. The depth of projects already in motion with Versus in such a short time is incredible. They’ve been authentic in supporting Blacktag’s mission since day one and we couldn’t be more grateful,” said Ashley Champ, Blacktag’s head of growth and creator partnerships. 

Citing the continued struggle with the lack of representation of Black talent in the creative industries, Blacktag has entered into a multi-faceted partnership with Versus. Through this new relationship, Versus will add Blacktag’s roster of creatives, directors, editors, designers, and artists to its creative and production capabilities and Blacktag will leverage Versus ecosystem to expand its mission to drive investment, opportunity, and economic power for Black creators. 

“It's critical that we don't just talk about elevating Black voices but take meaningful action. Versus was built to do things differently. This partnership with Blacktag amplifies that approach, and with projects already in development, we're witnessing the transformative power it has in driving cultural change," said Justin Barnes, executive creator director at Versus. 

The agreement between the two organisations outlines three distinct ways they will collaborate: Versus will concentrate on a commercial initiative, host community workshops, and engage in production deals to support the development and production of Blacktag's intellectual property. 

The first element of the relationship will be the Blacktag SLATE. Versus will create an ongoing slate of Black directors, producers, editors, and artists for client and agency partners looking to create dynamic, diverse, and influential work. The initial project will feature SLATE creator Lanre Danmola, a commercial and music video director/producer, collaborating with Meta on a new educational campaign.

Other initial talents in SLATE include Trillectro co-founder and former Nike, Red Bull, and Def Jam Exec, Modi Oyewole, music, fashion, sports, and commercial Director/Photographer Ellington Hammond, and Creative multi-hyphenate Khleo Armstrong. Blacktag and Versus will open up applications to continue curating and expanding this list of talent in an effort to continuously add more voices to the SLATE.

“Black artists are the drivers of culture and having access to bigger platforms will better help amplify these creatives and their incredible work,” said Modi Oyewole, creative executive, community builder, and Blacktag Creator.

The second aspect of the partnership will be a first-look production deal with Blacktag Studios whereby Versus will be supporting the development and production of new Blacktag and Blacktag Creator Original IP. This includes television series, documentaries, graphic novels, and more. The first project coming out of the initiative will be 'Close Cuts' (working title), a new lifestyle series featuring beauty influencer Tahira Joy, the creative visionary behind the wildly popular Instagram account The Cut Life. Tahira and her team of celebrity stylists will come together for a unique, new makeover series that’s everything but skin deep. The project will be taken to buyers in the coming weeks. 

“Through this partnership, we will be able to pair Versus’ ability to craft stories, build valuable IP and scale niche movements with Blacktag’s innate understanding of Black creative power globally,” said Arie Esiri, head of development, Blacktag Studios.

The final piece of this collaboration is the BT+VS Workshops. The workshops were curated to support Blacktag's mission of facilitating investment and economically empowering Black creators. Versus will host an exclusive workshop series for the Blacktag community, equipping members with essential tools, resources, and opportunities to produce and develop more work, while also shedding valuable insight around navigating the entertainment and commercial industries. Topics will include pitch preparation, treatment development, production resources, and more. The inaugural workshop was held on September 14th and featured an intimate audience of 25 creatives and delved into the intricacies of pitching television formats. 

“The content presented at the first BT+VS Workshop was so valuable to anyone learning to navigate the industry,” commented critically acclaimed writer/director Ellie Foumbi. “This kind of access and level of community connection is something that has been sorely missing in the business for so long.”

More talent highlights and projects from the partnership will be announced in the coming months as the pipeline of deals and projects continues to materialise. Visit here to sign up for updates and apply for a chance to be in the Blacktag SLATE lineup.

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