Lena Waithe, Hillman Grad Productions and Indeed Announce 10 Filmmakers for ‘Rising Voices’ Initiative Celebrating BIPOC Filmmakers

Indeed to Showcase Films at Prestigious NYC Showcase 

AUSTIN, TX (March 30,  2021) — Indeed, the world’s number one job site, today announced the 10 filmmaker teams selected from over 850 applications for the Indeed: Rising Voices program.  In partnership with Emmy Award-winning writer, creator and actor Lena Waithe and her company Hillman Grad Productions, Indeed: Rising Voices  was created to uncover, invest in and share stories created by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) filmmakers across the US around the meaning of work and the idea that jobs have the power to change us all. Each of the 10 films will premier during a special event at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.  

Whenever I talk to up and coming filmmakers they always tell me finding money is the biggest hurdle they face. That’s why I’m so grateful to Indeed: Rising Voices, for helping us give ten filmmakers both money to make their films and mentorship while they do it,” said Lena Waithe, CEO of Hillman Grad Productions.  “This is a great opportunity for these filmmakers, but it’s also a great opportunity for us. We get a first look at tomorrow’s storytellers and we can’t wait to introduce them to the world.”

The 10 selected filmmaker teams are:

  • Johnson Cheng
  • David Fortune
  • Stacy Pascal Gaspard
  • Deondray & Quincy LeNear Gossfield 
  • Kantú Lentz 
  • Boma Iluma 
  • Gabriela Ortega
  • Dre Ryan 
  • Elisee Junior St. Preux
  • Shelly Yo


“We congratulate these talented filmmakers and look forward to seeing how they bring new voices to the story of the meaning of work,” said Indeed CEO Chris Hyams.  “Collaborating with Lena Waithe and Hillman Grad Productions to bring ‘Rising Voices’ to life creates a meaningful impact on these filmmakers, the actors and crews they hire, and the people who watch their films. At Indeed, we know that talent is universal, but opportunity is not. I am thrilled for these rising filmmakers to have their work premier at the renowned Tribeca Film Festival.”

Executives from Hillman Grad Productions, Indeed, Ventureland, and PRETTYBIRD filmmakers and program mentors Calmatic, Paul Hunter and Melina Matsoukas, selected the 10 screenplays from over 850 applications. Each filmmaker was awarded a $10,000 writing fee, and will receive a $100,000 production budget, a dedicated line production crew through Hillman Grad and 271 Films and have access to an additional $25,000 COVID budget to ensure the safety of the cast and crew. Indeed will offer at least one filmmaker an additional $75,000 budget to create new work for Indeed as a non-exclusive filmmaker-in-residence.  

“Partnering with Hillman Grad – and now Tribeca Film Festival – brings instant credibility to the Rising Voices Initiative,” said Indeed Group VP LaFawn Davis. “We hope to get the community of BIPOC filmmakers excited about what we’re offering and how these amazing storytellers bring the impact of jobs to life.”


# # #

About Indeed

More people find jobs on Indeed than anywhere else. Indeed is the #1 job site in the world (comScore, March 2020) and allows job seekers to search millions of jobs in more than 60 countries and 28 languages. Over 3M employers use Indeed to find and hire new employees, making Indeed the largest job site in the US, Canada, and the world. More than 250 million people each month search for jobs, post resumes, and research companies on Indeed, and Indeed delivers 2.5X more hires than other branded job sites combined (BreezyHR, 2019). For more information, visit indeed.com.


Hillman Grad Productions is a development and production company committed to creating art that goes against the status quo and gives opportunity to marginalized peoples by providing a platform for diverse voices across all mediums.  Founded by Emmy Award-winning writer, Lena Waithe,  and Rishi Rajani, the company currently has projects at Netflix, BET, Disney,  Amazon, Universal, Focus and MGM. 

Their film slate includes the award-winning films The Forty-Year-Old Version and Queen & Slim. 

On the television side, they produced The Chi, BET’s hit series Twenties, Them, and are in development on BET+ Birth of Cool, Twenties the After Show hosted by B. Scott, Reawakening,  Neil Paik’s Six by Eight Press short story for Amazon Studios, and a Sammy Davis Jr biopic based on his daughter Tracey Davis’ book Sammy Davis Jr.: My Father. Additionally, Hillman Grad Productions is committed to opening the doors for other talented individuals who may not traditionally have access to the entertainment industry. Such initiatives include The Hillman Grad Mentorship Lab, which offers opportunities for marginalized storytellers to connect, grow, and accelerate their careers in television and film through personalized instruction from industry professionals in the fields of television writing, screen acting, and executive development. Recently, Hillman Grad Productions has partnered with Def Jam Recordings to announce the creation of Hillman Grad Records, a label that is committed to identifying and developing underrepresented artists and priming them for long term success in the music industry. 

About Ventureland

VENTURELAND is an independent creative studio founded by John Battsek and PRETTYBIRD partners Kerstin Emhoff, Ali Brown and Paul Hunter, that collaborates with the top filmmakers and studios in the world of film, TV and documentary to develop and produce breakthrough entertainment content. Beginning in 1999 with Academy Award-winning ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER, which he conceived and produced, Battsek has since served as producer on some of the most acclaimed documentaries in recent years. His most notable credits include Academy Award and BAFTA-winning SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN; Primetime Emmy-winning MANHUNT: THE STORY OF THE HUNT FOR BIN LADEN; BAFTA award-winner THE IMPOSTER; Grammy-nominee ERIC CLAPTON: LIFE IN 12 BARS and BAFTA nominated and Peabody-winning LISTEN TO ME MARLON. VENTURELAND’s recent highlights include READY FOR WAR (Showtime); AKA JANE ROE (FX), the scripted comedy series KIRBY JENNER (Quibi) and AMERICAN RAP STAR (SXSW selection).

Through their hybrid production company PRETTYBIRD, Emhoff, Brown and Hunter have also been responsible for some of the most high-profile and internationally renowned advertising campaigns and music content in the past decade. Their multi-award-winning work led to them being named Creativity’s Production Company of the Year (2015). And that legacy of innovative branded entertainment continues with VENTURELAND’s Creative Services division. Amongst VENTURELAND’s team is Natasha Wellesley, an award-winning Executive Producer who has led recent collaborations with PLANNED PARENTHOOD, as well as KitchenAid & Vox Media Studios on the 30-minute documentary A WOMAN’S PLACE, currently streaming on Hulu. 


# # #

Contact Information

For Indeed media and press inquiries, please contact:

  • US:
  • Canada:
  • EMEA:
  • APAC: