Hollywood power couple Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith, through their foundation, this week launched their Careers in Entertainment tour in support of President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative.

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith (CHRIS PIZZELLO/INVISION/AP)

“We believe that all people—regardless of race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, age, or ability—should have the opportunity to participate in storytelling, both behind and in front of the camera,” the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation stated of its mission with the Careers In Entertainment initiative on its website. “Young people from underserved backgrounds who want to pursue careers in film and television may be talented and motivated, but they might not know where to start. By mentoring the next generation of entertainment leaders from these communities, we can help change the face of film and television.”

The aims of the initiative and My Brother’s Keeper—which the president launched two years ago to address the opportunity gaps that hamstring America’s underserved youth, particularly boys and young men of color, from achieving their full potential—dovetail perfectly, the Smiths said.

“The Careers in Entertainment Tour is an engine for change in our industry, and a means of closing the gap between dreams and the tools necessary to achieve them,” said Jada Pinkett-Smith in a statement. “This initiative in support of My Brother’s Keeper will engage our underserved young girls and boys in hope to inspire future generations — a responsibility I do not take lightly and one I cannot wait to bring to fruition.”

The tour was launched in Brooklyn, N.Y., where about 600 students from New York public schools and colleges participated in panel discussions hosted by actor, author, and activist Hill Harper, and featuring stars such as Grammy nominated singer/songwriter Leona Lewis, actress Regina Hall and actor Jussie Smollett.

Such industry panels will be featured at each CIE tour stop along with immersive and experimental workshops and an interactive career fair that highlights various segments of the entertainment industry. Attendees will hear from professionals representing the gamut of careers in film and television, including filmmaking, television production, cinematography, composing, writing, project development, representation, distribution, sound design, film editing, public relations, and marketing.

“The My Brother’s Keeper Task Force applauds the Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation for responding to President Obama’s call to action to ensure all youth have clear pathways to opportunity and success in the entertainment industry,” said Broderick Johnson, assistant to President Obama, cabinet secretary, and chair of the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force. “We commend Will and Jada for leveraging their unique platform and networks to inspire and engage our nation’s most vulnerable youth, whose tremendous talents are too often underrepresented in this and other industries.”

To learn more about the Careers in Entertainment Tour, visit: www.cietour.org


Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO