YouTube’s next lineup of originals comprises 11 projects focused on racial justice—including five financed by its recently created $100 million Black Voices fund.
“Race has never been an easy issue to confront but the events over the last few months have opened up doors of dialogue and action that had once seemed closed,” Malik Ducard, YouTube’s VP of content partnerships, said in a statement. “Across YouTube, we have a tremendous opportunity and responsibility to contribute to these conversations about racial justice in a meaningful way.”
Originals supported by YouTube’s three-year content fund include Resist, a 12-episode docuseries from Black Lives Matter cofounder Patrisse Cullors (premieres October 2020); HBCU Homecoming 2020: Meet Me On The Yard, a virtual homecoming live stream celebrating historically Black colleges and universities (Oct. 24); Bear Witness, Take Action Part Two, a livestreamed call for racial justice featuring celebrities and public figures, plus a separate showcase of shortform content from Black creators (December 2020); Onyx Family Dinner, a weekly discussion series from YouTuber clan the Onyx Family (early 2021); and Barbershop Medicine, “a special exploring the impact race and socioeconomic status have on healthcare and longevity” (2021).
Other originals in the lineup were developed prior to the launch of YouTube’s fund, but also “center on the global Black experience and address racial justice,” the platform says.
They are (with descriptions provided by YouTube):
- Together We Rise—streaming now on GRM Daily’s YouTube Channel
Eleven years ago, Grime Daily was just a YouTube channel started by two young entrepreneurs who were focused on providing a platform for emerging Black hip hop and rap artists in the UK to showcase their work. Fast forward to present, GRM Daily is one of the largest media platforms in the UK, complete with a recording label and awards show. This four-part series focuses on the journey from YouTube channel to media empire. Executive Producers are Kate Shepherd, Laura Collins and Post, produced by Warner Music Entertainment.
- Trapped: Cash Bail in America—premieres October 12; official trailer here
Every year, millions of Americans are incarcerated before even being convicted of a crime – all because they can’t afford to post bail. How did we get here? “Trapped: Cash Bail in America” shines a light on our deeply flawed criminal justice system and the activists working to reform it. This new documentary explores the growing movement to end the inherent economic and racial inequalities while highlighting victims impacted by an unjust system, the tireless campaigners fighting for criminal justice reform, and a bail industry lobbying to maintain the status quo. “Trapped: Cash Bail in America” is produced and written by Chris L. Jenkins and edited and directed by Garrett Hubbard.
- BookTube—Special episode premieres October 22
The monthly learning series featuring the world’s most renowned authors is back with a special October episode spotlighting #1 New York Times bestselling author, Jason Reynolds (“Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You”). This special episode will feature dynamic videos from popular BookTube and YouTube creators, an interview with author Jason Reynolds, and a special appearance by Dr. Ibram Kendi, who wrote “Stamped from the Beginning”, which Reynolds “remixed” to bring us “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You.” This episode of BookTube is directed by Nadia Hallgren (“Becoming,” “After Maria”) and the Director of Photography is Hans Charles (“13th,” “1 Angry Black Man”). The series is produced by Boardwalk Pictures.
- The Outsiders—premieres February 2021
In this 4 part series, Simon Frederick (Black is the New Black, They Gotta Have Us) uses his signature style to explore the voices of the young Black visionaries who to date have been excluded and marginalised by society because of the color of their skin. Viewers will learn how these young Black visionaries have turn the tables on the very same society that excluded them in the first place, to become the luminaries of our time: the writers, artists, performers, athletes, scientists, politicians, entrepreneurs and business leaders who have made it against the odds and are shaping their new cultural reality landscape. “The Outsiders” is produced by Atelier Frederick AFL Films and directed by Simon Frederick.
- Glad You Asked, Season 2—premieres February 2021
YouTube Originals has greenlit a second season of the Emmy-nominated series, “Glad You Asked” – an ensemble-led exploration of topics driven by our curiosity about the world around us. Using Vox’s signature explainer format, season two will examine incredibly timely questions around racial justice and the impact of systemic racism in our communities and daily lives – from how our zipcodes determine our futures, to race and A.I., education inequity, and food deserts. Bringing a number of diverse and varied backgrounds together, this season will spotlight guest hosts and the world’s foremost experts to offer an experiential journey that empowers audiences to better understand their world. The series is produced by Vox Media Studios.
- Lockdown—new episodes premiere November 19
YouTube Originals has ordered an additional 6 episodes of the award winning scripted Kids & Families series that follows six friends as they work together to solve a mystery in their neighborhood during the social distancing era. Shot entirely via webcam and smartphone, new “Lockdown” episodes will explore timely issues on racial injustice, activism, and life’s frustrations during a pandemic. The series is created and produced by Toronto-based Sinking Ship Entertainment (“Dino Dana,” “Endlings,” “Odd Squad”) and these new episodes feature a diverse roster of writing and directing talent led by showrunners Aaron Bala and Lisa Codrington.
YouTube says it will continue to dole out its new fund over the next three years, using the money to “acquire and produce YouTube Originals programming, and to directly support Black creators and artists to help them thrive on YouTube.”