By Conor White
KweliTV wants to give people of color a voice on screen.
DeShuna Elisa Spencer, founder and CEO of the new streaming service, told Cheddar she came up with the idea because she couldn't relate to what was being offered.
"I remember flipping through a couple of channels, a lot of channels actually, and being really frustrated," she explained. "Not seeing stories I could relate to, not seeing enough black actors, people behind the camera, noticing they don't have a role as well, and from there I said, 'What can I do about it?'"
A study by UCLA's College of Social Sciences found that people of color represent 40 percent of the U.S. population, but they made up less than 15 percent of lead roles in 2016's top films. But Kweli is betting there is a place for films focusing on the global black population.
Spencer launched the streaming platform last September using her own money, to create a home for films, shows, and documentaries that told the stories of the African diaspora.
The selection has gotten critical notice: 98% of the movies on Kweli are official film festival selections. But Spencer said that simply being part of a film festival wasn't enough.
"People think the film has to have a black director or a black cast, but it's much more than that," said Spencer. "Kweli means truth, and so our mission is to create content that's a true reflection. So even those being in film festivals, we want to make sure it's not monolithic or demeaning or stereotypical for our community."
KweliTV's goal is to have 30,000 paying subscribers by the end of 2018.
For the full interview, click here.