Oscar-winning actress Brie Larson has long been eager to get behind the camera — she’s already helmed a pair of short films, including the Sundance award-winning “The Arm,” which she made alongside Jessie Ennis and Sarah Ramos — and her feature directorial debut, “Unicorn Store,” is reportedly set to bow sometime later this year. And now the film has snagged the backing of a brand new production shingle, one that sounds very much in line with Larson’s own outspoken and equality-driven attitude.
Long-time producer Lynette Howell Taylor has now launched a new production banner called 51 Entertainment, with a focus on filmmaker-driven content, and “Unicorn Store” is set up as its first feature. Larson directed the film from Samantha McIntyre’s script, and she also stars in the feature alongside Samuel L. Jackson, Bradley Whitford, Joan Cusack, and Martha MacIsaac. The film also boasts a crew that was mostly made up of female professionals.
“The name 51 is associated with the idea of MAJORITY,” Taylor said in an official statement. “Women are still the majority in the United States and yet the balance is greatly tipped against us in the entertainment industry when it comes to opportunities. Part of the mission for 51 will be to promote equality, diversity and inclusion in hiring practices across all areas of film and TV, both in front of, and behind the camera, in every department. It is a not a female content company or a company focusing only on female filmmakers, instead it is a company that will aim to achieve greater BALANCE.”
The new shingle will be, per their official first announcement, “Platform, Genre and Budget agnostic, developing content in whatever way best suits the storytelling.” Taylor, who recently wrapped “A Star is Born” and is known for projects as wide-ranging as “The Accountant,” “Mississippi Grind,” and “Big Eyes,” intends to use the new venture to continue her professional relationships with established filmmakers while also discovering and fostering new talent.
Larson has long called for change in the industry. Over Oscar weekend in February, she was on hand at the 10th Annual Women In Film Pre-Oscar Cocktail Party, where she implored the large — and decidedly female-leaning — crowd to really talk to each other — “let’s not talk like industry talk” — in order to build safe spaces to encourage and build each other up and “to make something amazing.”
Taylor has also hired independent producer Samantha Housman to join herself and creative executive Derek Iger at the new venture. Taylor is also a partner in Electric City Entertainment, and while she and partner Jamie Patricof will still produce their existing projects together under that banner, Taylor’s solo projects will be under the new 51 banner.