For Toronto Film School instructor Daniela Pinto, the decision to register on the newly launched HireBIPOC database was about much more than just job recruitment opportunities.
It was also about standing up and being counted as a role model for all those aspiring young creatives of colour who – like her when she was first starting out – are reluctant to pursue a career in the film and television industry because they don’t see themselves reflected there.
“I feel like when we don’t see people who look like ourselves in the industry, we don’t think that’s a place where we can succeed,” said the GTA-based sound editor, re-recording mixer, and composer who currently teaches first-term Film Production students.
“But just by being visible and showing up and making ourselves counted is a way to show the next generation that there is a community of people like them in the industry who will support them.
“For young people, I think this database could give them a sense of possibility of what their life could look like.”
Officially launched on Oct. 5, HireBIPOC’s one objective is to “eradicate systemic racism in the Canadian media landscape by shifting thinking and practices around hiring, investing in the BIPOC community, getting more BIPOC hired.”
To achieve those ends, Canada’s “definitive and ubiquitous” roster of BIPOC creatives and crew working in screen-based industries has issued an open invitation to all those in the industry who self-identify as BIPOC to join the database – no matter how big or small the role they play, in front of the camera or behind the scenes.
“HireBIPOC will be the most comprehensive roster of roles in Canadian TV, film, and digital media and will encompass jobs in production, as well as at media companies and arts organizations,” organizers from BIPOC TV & FILM – the volunteer-run advocacy group that founded and operates the database – said in a statement.
Intended as a resource for employers seeking talent for hire, the job category lists included in the database are inclusive of wide-ranging roles across all experience and education levels – including writers, directors, set decorators, wardrobe, production assistants, publicists, camera operators, post supervisors, social media managers, hair and makeup artists, accountants, on-air promotions, development executives, VFX/graphic designers and production executives, among many others.
“When we talk about diversity in film and getting more under-represented people involved, I feel like there’s a lot of focus put on people in prominent roles – like actors or directors,” Pinto lamented, noting her optimism that the HireBIPOC database may spur a shift in that thinking.
“Ninety per cent of the people who make movies are not seen at all – they’re in the unglamorous, yet still very important roles. And visibility in those jobs is very important, too.”
That sentiment was echoed by Jhanik Bullard – a 2018 Writing for Film & Television grad who has volunteered for BIPOC TV & FILM for the last four years, and currently serves as treasurer on the organization’s Visioning Committee.
“BIPOC TV & FILM are fighting to make sure rooms are inclusive – that it’s not just one set of voices that’s telling all the stories, that it’s a conglomerate of different voices sharing their lived experiences and their stories – and helping to shape a better Canada, a better world,” said Bullard, who’s currently working as a Showrunner’s Assistant to Morwyn Brebner on CBC’s Coroner.
“I think in order for any change to happen, everybody has to be invited to the table, have a seat, and have the opportunity to have their voices heard – and HireBIPOC is an avenue to get that happening.”
One of the ways HireBIPOC organizers worked to ensure that invitation to the table, Bullard said, was by forging partnerships with some of Canada’s broadcasters including Bell Media, CBC, Rogers, and Corus – all of whom have since committed to changing hiring practices within their respective organizations and the companies they work with.
“We got all these big companies to come on board, but coming on board is just half the battle – now it’s about implementing that work,” he said.
“We built the database, so there’s no more excuses. We can put up the website and have everybody sign up, but it’s up to the companies to really want to make that change.”
In the meantime, Bullard said he and his fellow volunteers at BIPOC TV & FILM will continue to do all they can to fight for the cause of inclusion.
“Personally, I want to make sure the voices that are marginalized, the voices that are relegated to the back of the room can come to the forefront,” he said.
“I want the whole landscape to change – a reckoning for change and for voices that reflect our society as a whole to be heard.”
To register for the HireBIPOC database, go to www.hirebipoc.ca
Learn more about BIPOC TV & FILM here.