Mayor Garcetti Announces New Entrepreneurs In Residence To Increase Diversity In Film Industry

Published On: January 24, 2019Categories: City Hall News, Program News

LOS ANGELES — Mayor Eric Garcetti today announced that Theresa Kang and Amir Shahkhalili, Partners at WME, and Kevin Iwashina, Senior Associate at Endeavor Content, will serve the City of Los Angeles’ 2019 Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) program, an initiative that enlists some of L.A.’s most accomplished business minds to build stronger industries across the City.

The Endeavor team will leverage its institutional knowledge and relationships with leading artists and content creators to expand Mayor Garcetti’s Evolve Entertainment Fund (EEF) — a public-private partnership that creates new career opportunities for communities that have been historically excluded from the entertainment industry.

“Endeavor is at the center of a global network that will help strengthen my office’s work to build a more inclusive entertainment ecosystem,” said Mayor Garcetti. “Theresa, Kevin, and Amir will bring new ideas and energy to our efforts to provide young people in underserved communities with opportunities to follow their dreams in Hollywood.”

They officially begin their EIR appointments today at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, where they will build new awareness around EEF, and work to recruit new partners.

Launched last February with filmmaker Ava Duvernay and more than 60 companies, the EEF is dedicated to building career pathways into film, television, and music for women, people of color, and low-income Angelenos through paid internships, focused mentoring, and an ongoing series of workshops and panels.

The EEF has secured 140 internships and three full-time offers for L.A. residents from underrepresented communities, and aims to serve 1,000 Angelenos by the end of 2020.

During their year-long term, Theresa, Kevin, and Amir will build support for EEF, by expanding internship and mentoring opportunities, and creating new educational programming.

The EIRs will also partner with the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative to embark on a comprehensive study of diversity in L.A.’s entertainment industry, with a focus on below-the-line career opportunities.

“It is an honor for us to function as EIRs for Mayor Garcetti and the City of Los Angeles on their yearlong concentration on diversity and inclusion in entertainment,” said Amir Shahkhalili. “We are incredibly eager to provide young Angelenos access and exposure to the entertainment industry.  We look forward to bringing the Evolve Entertainment Fund to the forefront of conversation as we address systemic change that will impact the future of our Industry.”

Thanks to the support of the Sundance Institute, five EEF students will also take part in the Sundance Festival’s Ignite program, which supports the next generation of creators through a specially curated program of screenings, panels, and networking opportunities for emerging creatives ages 18-24.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming the Evolve Entertainment Fund students at our Festival,” said Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute, “Cultivating rising generations of creative storytellers is in the culture’s best interest, and engaging students like these with our community of independent artists, industry members, and film enthusiasts is a crucial way to spark dialogue and evolution.”

First launched in 2014, the EIR program is made possible with support from Ernst & Young LLP and the Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles. The program enlists business executives and expert entrepreneurs to work with the City to create exciting and powerful solutions that will lead to thoughtful policy, a burgeoning workforce, and a stronger economy.

“We’re proud to support these Entrepreneurs-in-Residence and their critical work, which will help more creators from underserved communities tell their stories, contribute innovative ideas and add their voices to L.A.’s thriving entertainment industry,” said Patrick Niemann, EY Los Angeles Office Managing Partner. “At EY, we believe that it’s critical to maximize the power of different opinions, perspectives and cultural insights to succeed in the global marketplace.”

About the Entrepreneurs-in-Residence

Theresa Kang, Partner, WME
Theresa Kang is a partner at WME where she represents artists across film and television. Her clients include Lena Waithe, Guillermo del Toro, Lisa Joy, Gillian Flynn, Steve Zaillian and Prentice Penny. Theresa is an advocate for underrepresented groups both creatively and on the executive side, and co-founded Empower, WME’s internal inclusion program.  She is a Los Angeles native.

Kevin Iwashina, Senior Associate, Endeavor Content
Kevin Iwashina is a Senior Associate at Endeavor Content. In his role,  he identifies financing opportunities, handles sales, and provides advisory services for media companies and content creators in the non-fiction space. He is a Los Angeles native.

Amir Shahkhalili, Partner, WME
Amir Shahkhalili is a partner at WME representing artists across film and television in non-scripted and non-fiction programming.  His clients include John Legend, Whoopi Goldberg, notable production companies eOneTelevision, 44 Blue Productions, Herzog & Company and Vox Entertainment.

About Endeavor
Endeavor is a global leader in sports, entertainment and fashion operating in more than 30 countries. Named one of Fortune’s 25 Most Important Private Companies, Endeavor is comprised of a number of industry-leading companies including WME, IMG, UFC and Endeavor Content. The Endeavor network specializes in talent representation and management; brand marketing, sponsorship and licensing; media development, sales and distribution; event operation and management; and sports training and league development.


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