Participant — a Hollywood force in making entertainment that combines art and activism — announced on Thursday that two new members are joining its Impact Advisory Council. The media company formed the council last year to help guide the impact work it does surrounding and amplifying its films and episodic projects.
The council’s two new members are multi-platform storyteller Baratunde Thurston, the host and executive producer of PBS’ America Outdoors and the creator of the How To Citizen podcast, and Chi-hui Yang, senior program officer at the Ford Foundation, who is part of the Creativity and Free Expression team and is a grantmaker for the foundation’s JustFilms program.
Thurston and Yang are joining the five inaugural members of the Impact Advisory Council, all of whom are leaders in the impact and entertainment space: Ai-jen Poo, president of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Devon Franklin, president and CEO of Franklin Entertainment, Fatima Goss Graves, president of the National Women’s Law Center, Juan Devis, CEO and founder of Ninetythree Media, and Mindy Lubber, president and CEO of sustainability nonprofit Ceres. The original members have all committed to extend their two-year terms into 2024.
“We are thrilled to welcome Chi-hui Yang and Baratunde Thurston to our esteemed Impact Advisory Council and are honored that our five founding members have agreed to return for an additional year,” said David Linde, CEO of Participant, in a statement. “As we reflect on the achievements of our inaugural year, the new members will further strengthen our efforts to spur lasting change through our content and impact partnerships. We are excited to embark on this new chapter together, forging a path toward a more inclusive and transformative future.”
Participant’s Impact Advisory Council has to date consulted on impact campaign strategies for such titles as Descendant, the 2022 film about the Clotilda, the last known slave ship to arrive in the U.S.; All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, the Oscar-nominated 2022 documentary about the opioid crisis; and the 2022 doc Lowndes County and the Road to Black Power. In the case of Descendant, the council helped facilitate a partnership with the Council on Environmental Quality; representatives of the council met with descendants of the Clotilda and discussed the film’s impact goal of helping further a more equitable future for descendants of enslaved peoples in underserved places such as the historic community of Africatown near Mobile, Alabama, where the documentary is set.
“The stories we tell reflect who we are and who we can be,” said Thurston, “I’m so honored to work with Participant to help deepen the impact of the important stories they’re helping tell to create a world worthy of us all.”
Said Yang, “I’m thrilled to join Participant’s Impact Advisory Council, and to contribute to a shared and dynamic conversation about how culture and artistry can help us reimagine the world around us.”
Participant — which is the only major United States entertainment company to earn B Corp Certification — will further work with its Impact Advisory Council on impact strategies for such upcoming titles as Shirley, Regina King’s film about Shirley Chisholm; Marc Forster’s coming-of-age period drama White Bird, starring Helen Mirren; and the based-on-a-true-story feature film Radical, which stars Eugenio Derbez as a teacher in the northeastern Mexico border town of Matamoros who turned around the grades of his failing class. For the latter film, which opens Nov. 3, Participant has created the Radical Fund, in partnership with Hispanics in Philanthropy, which benefits a dozen education-focused grantee organizations who serve the Latine community.