ViacomCBS-owned broadcaster BET in the United States is launching a studio division that it says will give black creators more stake in the TV and film projects they create.
BET Studios will leverage the infrastructure and funding from BET and ViacomCBS to develop and produce network projects within the ViacomCBS fold, including Paramount +, Showtime, CBS, Nickelodeon, BET and the BET + streamer. The new studio label will also produce content for third-party platforms.
Aisha Summers-Burke has been appointed Managing Director and Executive Vice President of the new company, reporting to BET President Scott Mills. As head of the studio, Summers-Burke will be responsible for overseeing day-to-day creative affairs, collaborating with creative partners, and driving BET Studios’ roster of content.
The company’s main partners are writer, producer and director Kenya Barris, creator of Netflix comedy #BlackAF and ABC’s Black-ish; actress, screenwriter and director Rashida Jones, whose executive producer credits include Hot Girls Wanted and the follow-up series Turned On; and film and television screenwriter Aaron Rahsaan Thomas, who is the co-creator and co-host of the rebooted SWAT procedural series and who previously worked on NBC’s Friday Night Lights.
“With the launch of BET Studios, we’re excited to introduce a new model that opens up openness to a wide range of platforms and supports the full range of content from black creators. This entrepreneurial environment offers creatives the opportunity to produce diverse, high-end content that reflects all aspects of entertainment, ”said Summers-Burke, who spent 13 years at Warner Bros. Television, most recently as vice president of Warner. Horizon, before it was combined with Warner Bros. Television last year.
“The demand for premium content from black creators has accelerated dramatically due to the rapid evolution of media and social landscapes. BET, with our 40-year heritage of celebrating black culture and the full power of the ViacomCBS ecosystem, is uniquely positioned to meet this demand, ”Mills said in a statement.
Barris added, “The investment made by Scott, David Nevins, Bob Bakish and the ViacomCBS team in BET Studios is not just an investment in dark storytelling, it is also an investment in culture. And while the individual success is tremendous, being able to amplify and champion underrepresented storytellers has been equally exciting and this endeavor allows this to continue to be a key focus in this next chapter of my career.