New Adobe Conversation Series About Diverse Creators Features Lena Waithe And Zerina Akers


Adobe’s new digital video series featuring celebrities including actor-director Lena Waithe and stylist Zerina Akers aims to foster conversation among a diverse group of celebrities about how to make creativity more accessible—and more high profile.

The series, titled Create Change, debuted yesterday with the release of a video conversation between Waithe and Akers. Future episodes will feature actress-producer Yara Shahidi, art curator Destinee Ross-Sutton and poet-author Cleo Wade. 

Waithe, known for her roles in the Netflix series Master Of None and Sci-Fi film Ready Player One, spoke with Akers, who’s gained notoriety as Beyoncé’s stylist for the visual album Black Is King, about the importance of fashion and diversity. In the video, Waithe asks how long it will be until there’s a Black-owned, high-end fashion brand, noting that she’s been wanting to invest more in Black entrepreneurs.

“A lot of people know Beyoncé, but oftentimes it’s important for me to communicate to people at large about who’s behind the scenes or made something come together,” Waithe tells Forbes. “It’s easy for people to look at who’s in the forefront and who’s in the center, but it’s also important to have conversations about people who are behind-the scenes and who are a part of the village that help these stars become who they are.”

This summer, Akers founded a new Instagram account called Black Owned Everything, which showcases Black-owned businesses, including fashion and beauty products, in an effort to help them cut through the social network’s algorithms and find new audiences and customers. Since then, Akers has scaled the account and is working on an e-commerce platform, set to launch in a few weeks that will also be integrated with Shopify.

“I hope that it continues and that corporations continue to be challenged and challenge themselves and consumers continue to challenge themselves to not fall into the easy one, two, threes of Amazon and Instacart and things like that and to discover and explore new brands,” she says. “It’s really important to the growth of humanity that the ownership doesn’t lie—no matter what color you are—at the 1% or with one corporate or one or two or there or four or five corporations, but amongst the people.”

Adobe isn’t the only company looking to highlight diverse talent across a variety of industries. This week, Lenovo and the United Nations debuted a new virtual reality series backed by filmmaker Ava DuVernay spotlighting young women from around the world.

In a statement about Adobe’s series, Adobe CMO Ann Lewnes said the company is “excited to be supporting, amplifying and celebrating diverse creators so the world can see a vibrant spectrum of perspectives.”

“At Adobe, we believe in creativity for all,” said the statement. “Seeing creators like yourself, especially for this next generation, is absolutely crucial.”

Perhaps the most poignant part of the first Create Change video was when Waithe said that “the lines are blurry between my art and me,” adding that “Black people, we’re always creating even when the world is burning.”

When asked about her thinking around that balance of internal and external creation, Waithe tells Forbes she’s currently more focused internally rather than externally. 

“I’m often focused on what’s happening outside of my home,” she says. “You know, in the world and now I’m focused on what’s happening on the inside of it, and how that is really interesting to me, dealing with emotional turmoil. You know? And mind you, racial turmoil for the most part isn’t going anywhere any time soon. I can choose to write about that all the time, obviously in my work. But I’m trying to go into the homes of many different people and focusing on the fire inside and what that looks like. That’s the space I’m in now. It’s really fascinating and really interesting.”

Atlanta Black Star | Africa


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