April 6, 2021




By Leslie Fields-Cruz

Hats Off to Our 360 Incubator+ Mentors!

It’s award season in the media industry. The 2021 Golden Globes, Grammys, NAACP Image, and SAG awards are all behind us. BPM’s PitchBLACK Awards will be held Fri., April 9, with the Oscars and Peabody awards still to come.  The ongoing pandemic has forced most of this year's ceremonies to be conducted virtually — which, while less ideal, are certainly preferable to hosting super-spreader in-person events or none at all. In each case, the main point of these programs is to celebrate and inspire excellence.

As we get closer to the PitchBLACK Awards, I feel compelled to not only extend my congratulations to the fellows, but to also extend a warm shout out to the mentors who have worked with them. They are: Jaad Assante, Joe Brewster, Rachel Falcone, Sonia Gonzalez-Martinez, Chris Hastings, Byron Hurt, Michael Premo, Sam Pollard, Yoruba Richen, Sreedevi Sripathy, and Christine Turner.

Agreeing to mentor a 360 Incubator+ fellow is a serious commitment. It involves, not only counseling one’s assigned project team throughout the three-month fellowship, but often being available to them for months or even years after the formal fellowship period is over. Several of this year’s mentors have mentored our fellows in years past. While BPM provides a mentor stipend, I guarantee you that is not why these amazing media makers agree to take on this responsibility. They do it because they understand the importance of Black stories and they know how alienating it can be for Black media makers in an industry that thrives on cronyism, is struggling to be more inclusive, and still has so few Black veterans available to nurture those who are working their way up.

So, on behalf of the BPM staff, board and all of our fellows, I say THANK YOU, Mentors! The fellows are now engulfed in the frenzy of preparing for PitchBLACK, but I hope they never lose sight of what an incredible opportunity it is to have been assigned a mentor. As their careers develop, I also hope they will look for opportunities to mentor others.  Of course, BPM will always be here to help them make those connections.

If you are one of our newsletter subscribers who hasn't yet registered for PitchBLACK, here's a link to secure your spot in the virtual audience. And don't forget to join us at the BPM Showcase, too. We look forward to seeing you there!

Black Public Media is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, with further funding from the MacArthur Foundation and the New York State Council on the Arts. Support for Afropop: the Ultimate Cultural Exchange and the 360 Incubator+ Fund comes from the National Endowment for the Arts. BPM is the only nonprofit that offers training, funding and distribution for projects solely about the Black experience. We are seeking foundations, corporations and individuals to help our work. For more information about underwriting and contributions, please contact Alisa Norris (Alisa@ blackpublicmedia.org). To donate, click here! In addition, you can donate to BPM through your Amazon purchases by going to smile.amazon.com/ch/31- 1335950.

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