California-based production company Encantos has launched a new fellowship program to support underrepresented talent breaking into the kids entertainment space. Its Encantos Fellowship named New York-based high school student Kayla Bowles (pictured) as its first fellow, who will be part of a year-long creative mentorship and training program in its California office effective immediately. The program is open to high school, college and post-graduate students to help them develop skills and a network in the industry earlier in their careers.
In the entertainment industry, women and people of color have remained underrepresented in every area of employment during the last decade, according to UCLA’s Hollywood Diversity Report 2019. This is the problem that Encantos wants to address through the the program, and it wants to increase the diversity in the industry so its talent can better reflect kids and families, according to CEO Steven Wolfe Pereira.
Encantos will give Bowles—an aspiring filmmaker and writer—knowledge on marketing herself and her projects to the industry. She will have meetings with members of the Encantos Advisory Board to grow her skills and network. Some of the execs she will learn from include, Julie Kane-Ritsch, the head of animation and family entertainment at The Gotham Group, and Rick Richter, the former president of the children’s division at Simon & Schuster.
Bowles is going to develop her own creative project that will be presented to execs in the industry, as well as identify a nonprofit that she can work with while building her project. The fellowship also includes a stipend of US$5,000, and Encantos could potentially sign a publishing and development deal with its fellows at the end of the program.
Open to US citizens who are in high school, college or doing post-graduate studies, applicants must show academic achievement and interest in a career in family entertainment. The next round of fellowship applications can be done on Encantos’ website, and opens this fall.
The company has been building up its resources for talent in the last year, and in March it launched its first educator-in-residence (EIR) program. Bilingual teacher Irma Vasquez was named its first EIR to make Encantos’ brands more relevant to kids. Under that new initiative, the studio can draw on the insights of experienced educators who have one foot in classrooms and who are in touch with what they need to know and how best to communicate that to them, Wolfe Pereira previously told Kidscreen.