Veteran producer Effie T. Brown (“Dear White People,” “Project Greenlight,” “Real Women Have Curves”) has been named the new CEO of Gamechanger, the first film financing fund by and for women, which launched in 2013. Under Brown’s leadership, Gamechanger will broaden the fund’s scope to also include projects by and about people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, and people with disabilities. Gamechanger will also expand into television and digital content with a new, fully monetized development fund that will enable it to buy, option, and develop IP for those platforms.
“As a black female producer who’s been in the business for over 20 years, I know how hard it is to not only get into the room but to then secure financing when you have a culturally diverse or gender specific point of view,” said Brown. “I am beyond thrilled to join Gamechanger as CEO and help level the playing field by providing equity financing for production, development monies as well as strategic partnerships for people with disabilities, LGBTQ+, women, and people of color. What also makes us different is that the diversity of our content is as diverse as our investor pool. Our investors understand that it is going to take all of us pooling our monies together to ensure that these inclusive voices are given the opportunity to own their story from script to screen.”
Other new additions to the Gamechanger team include producer Nina Yang Bongiovi (“Fruitvale Station,” “Dope,” “Sorry to Bother You”) and Arturo Barquet, EVP and Chief Financial Officer of Global Production Operations at Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, who have joined the fund as advisors; Jennifer Kushner, previously Director of Artist Development at Film Independent, joins as Chief Content Officer; and Brenda Robinson (“Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” “Icarus”) and Naja Pham Lockwood (“Last Days in Vietnam,” “Gook”) join the original founding team that includes Geralyn Dreyfous, Dan Cogan and Wendy Ettinger.
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Robinson and Pham Lockwood are investing their own money, ensuring that Gamechanger is both headed by and has significant financing from women of color.
Upcoming projects on Gamechanger’s slate include the previously announced “Passing,” led by Nina Yang Bongiovi and Forest Whitaker’s Significant Productions, which is currently in post-production. Starring Tessa Thompson, Ruth Negga, Andre Holland, Alexander Skarsgård, and Bill Camp, the 1928 Harlem-set drama recounts the story of two African American women, each of whom can “pass” as white, but choose to live on opposite sides of the color line. Actress Rebecca Hall makes her directorial debut with the adaptation of the Nella Larsen novel of the same name.
New Gamechanger founder Robinson was responsible for assembling a group of African American investors for the project, in addition to investing her own money.
“From the very beginning Gamechanger has been committed to reflecting the community we serve, which is why we are thrilled to have Effie on board as our CEO, along with new founders Brenda and Naja,” said Dreyfous. “Effie’s vision to expand our community of filmmakers, as well as our foray into television and digital development will truly take us to the next level.”
Ettinger added, “Effie has long been driven by the idea that ‘diversity’ is more than a word, it’s a philosophy that will benefit both the richness of stories coming out of Hollywood as well as its bottom line. Her commitment to quality storytelling and her years of experience supporting underrepresented creators will ensure we deliver on our promise.”