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Ryan Reynolds Marks Third Anniversary of DEI-Focused Group Effort Initiative With Call for More Productions to “Please Come on Board”


In a new video posted today, Ryan Reynolds celebrates the three-year anniversary of the Group Effort Initiative, the nonprofit organization he and his wife Blake Lively founded that secures jobs and internships for members of underrepresented communities.

“I am incredibly proud of this organization and its growth as a channel for members of underrepresented communities to gain real, lasting careers within the entertainment industry,” Reynolds says at the Youtube videowhich announces that group Effort Initiative, since its founding in 2020, it has secured more than 1,000 total placements for participants, including 797 internships, 128 entry-level corporate jobs, and 175 PA (production assistant) positions in the 116 productions that have partnered with GEI to date. date.

The non-profit organization currently has 767 active participants; they come from a variety of underserved populations, including people of color, LGBTQ people, homeless and former foster youth, people with disabilities, and people who have been previously incarcerated and are re-entering the workforce.

GEI’s placement numbers represent a huge leap forward from where the group started. In late 2020 and early 2021, Lively and Reynolds cast eight contestants in the latter’s Netflix film, The Adam Project, which he shot in Vancouver. The non-profit organization paid the trainees’ salaries and housing during filming and they gained experience working in departments such as VFX, set decoration, makeup, art, construction, and as assistant directors.

“When Ryan and Blake initially started the Group Effort Initiative,” says GEI Executive Director Sumi Parekh. the hollywood reporter, “they really wanted to focus on diversifying their own productions and their own projects and helping people from underrepresented communities get entry-level jobs on set. That’s how they started it.”

Ryan Reynolds (center) on the set of ‘The Adam Project’ in Vancouver with the first eight trainees of the Group Effort Initiative.

group effort initiative

That initial effort “went very well,” says Parekh, who explains that Reynolds and Lively began getting calls from other productions about the location of the trainees.

“They realized, ‘This is going to be something much bigger and could be bigger than just doing it on our own productions and sets,’” continues Parekh, who previously worked with Eric Garcetti when he was mayor of Los Angeles. During his time in the city government, Parekh founded the Evolve Entertainment Fund, which, similar to GEI, worked to open career paths in the entertainment industry.

“I connected on GHG growth and joined the team in 2021,” recalls Parekh. That year, GEI and the Evolve Entertainment Fund merged.

“We can now focus on three tracks for underrepresented populations: the corporate side, the creative side, and the production side, which is focused on getting people to get below-the-line jobs like entry-level PAs and (eventually) help those people find their way to a union,” says Parekh.

In the anniversary video, GEI alumni and costume designer Michael shares how the group helped him accelerate his entry into the entertainment industry. “I’m a member of the costume union,” he says. “In nine months, GEI was able to work with me and help me get into the union, which I think was unprecedented in many ways.”

Group Effort Initiative also focuses on professional development training and education for its participants to help ensure they are successful in their jobs.

He continues to work and build public-private partnerships with entities like the Los Angeles Department of Economic and Workforce Development, which “provides subsidized internships at companies that don’t have the budget for an internship,” Parekh says.

And last fall, GEI launched a mentoring program that has already matched 125 mentors and mentees. “It is a one-year program. We cure it. We check in with couples every month and make sure they both get what they need,” says Parekh, adding that a “round two” cycle will begin this fall.

Companies GEI has worked with include Disney, Paramount, Netflix, The Martin Agency and Banijay Americas.

GEI finds participants by working with other organizations “that are also working with these (underrepresented) populations and are nominating people who say they are interested in working in the entertainment industry,” says Parekh.

In the future, he says, GEI is looking to expand into more cities, even beyond the places where it has already secured entertainment jobs for its participants. To date, those places include Albuquerque, Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Cleveland, London, Long Island, Los Angeles, the New Jersey area, New York City, O’ahu, Pittsburgh, Portland, the Bay area from San Francisco, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington DC and Winnipeg. “We’re building in places like Sydney, Australia and in Sofia, Bulgaria, too,” says Parekh. “Sofia seems to be a hotspot lately (for filming).”

reynolds account THR that he is proud of GEI’s “incredible drive toward our goal of creating a pipeline of talent in the film industry from underrepresented communities” and, in the anniversary video, calls for more productions to “come on board,” adding: “The true diversity and inclusion cannot be possible without the support of those with the power and resources to make an impact.”

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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