Kenya Barris, Rashida Jones, Aaron Rahsaan Thomas Launch BET Studios –

BET has launched a new venture focused on content by Black talent. BET Studios is described in a press release as an unprecedented studio venture that offers equity ownership for Black content creators. With funding from BET and ViacomCBS, BET Studios will create premium television series and films for internal buyers, including Paramount+, SHOWTIME, CBS, Nickelodeon, BET+ and BET, as well as select third-party platforms.

Kenya Barris, Rashida Jones, and Aaron Rahsaan Thomas are principal partners in the launch.

“The investment being made by Scott, David Nevins, Bob Bakish, and the ViacomCBS team into BET Studios is not only an investment in Black storytelling, it is also an investment in the culture,” said Barris. “And while individual success is great, being able to amplify and champion underrepresented storytellers has been equally exciting and this venture allows that to continue to be a key focus in this next chapter of my career.”

Kenya Barris Wearing Black Jacket Pink Hoodie

Kenya Barris attends the premiere of Columbia Pictures’ ‘Bad Boys For Life’ on Jan. 14, 2020, in Hollywood, California.
Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

“There is such power in the creative talent that the principal partners bring to the table and BET Studios’ unique ability to tell Black stories at scale,” added Jones.

Thomas continued, “This is a chance to bring nuanced, layered narratives to life, partnering with a forward-thinking team, interested in surprising and engaging the audience.”

BET Studios will be headed by Aisha Summers Burke. She will take the role of Executive Vice-President and General Manager with the responsibility of working collaboratively with the Studio’s formidable creative partners and key internal constituencies. Burke will also be responsible for the BET Studios content slate and focus on growing the Studio’s production output across both internal and external platforms.

Aisha Summers Burke Headshot

Aisha Summers Burke.
Courtesy of BET

“The demand for premium content from Black creators has accelerated dramatically as a result of both the rapidly changing media and social landscapes. BET, with our 40-year legacy of celebrating Black culture, and the full power of the ViacomCBS ecosystem—is uniquely positioned to service this demand,” said BET President Scott Mills.

He continued, “As a company with its origin in Black entrepreneurship, we are incredibly excited to create the first major studio to provide Black creators with ownership, creative freedom, and the unparalleled partnership and support of BET. I am thrilled to have Aisha at the helm of this venture, and I look forward to our collaboration with our amazing creative partners in BET Studios.”


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