The creator of #OscarsSoWhite launches new site to help Hollywood find more diverse talent

Hollywood execs no longer have excuses to hide behind.

Her new website, Akuarel, launched on Friday as a digital database for historically overlooked groups in entertainment and creative industries.

The 90th Annual Academy Awards in Beverly Hills, California.

April Reign, the creator of #OscarsSoWhite, is here to help Hollywood find the diverse actors it needs.

Her new website, Akuarel, launched on Friday as a digital database for historically overlooked groups in entertainment and creative industries.

“This answers one of the issues raised by #OscarsSoWhite when studios say, ‘We want to work with people from marginalized communities, but we just don’t know where to find them,’” Reign explained, according to Mic. “This is going to drop them right in their lap.”

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The database will allow users to identify themselves by markers such as gender, sexual orientation, and race. They will also be able to list their experience level and their location.

“Our main objective now is to get Akuarel populated by the talent and the stakeholders themselves,” Reign said on Thursday. “The value to the studios will be once it’s sufficiently populated. A lot of the studios were already partnering with us on sponsorship arrangements.”

Lack of representation is “nonsense”

Reign is befuddled by the notion that Hollywood still says they cannot find diverse actors to fit diverse roles. Akuarel is the fix that will completely erase any excuses. In particular, she used the recent controversies surrounding Disney’s live-action remake of Aladdin, which sparked backlash when executives complained about how hard it was to find Middle Eastern stars for the lead roles.

“There are a billion Asian people in the world, but we can’t find our Princess Jasmine?” she said. “To me that’s nonsense.”

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Reign said that she came up with the name based on the French word “Aquarelle,” representing the watercolor pencils her childhood friend used to use for drawing.

Game changer

David Morgan, president of the Multicultural Media Correspondents Association, said that the site was created in partnership with the Motion Picture Association of America. Reign has been working on the site ever since her 2016 spike in popularity for the #OscarsSoWhite movement.

Media outlets, movie studios, television networks, and theater directors can use the free subscription-based service to find talented candidates to fill key positions. Even better, creatives (including journalists, actors, writers and behind-the scenes talent) looking for their big break will be able to search the Akuarel database for jobs.

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Now more than ever, it’s apparent that diversity and representation matters. And with no more excuses left, Hollywood has no other choice but to step up.