‘It’ producer Dan Lin sets up accelerator for racial equity

In the late 1990s, Dan Lin was a 25-year-old Harvard MBA student with no Hollywood connections when he joined Warner Bros. as an intern under film executive Lorenzo DiBonaventura.

Born in Taipei, Taiwan, the producer of It and The Lego Movie credits his early mentors, including DiBonaventura and Alan Horn, with launching and supporting his career in an industry obsessed with who-you-know small talk is.

And that, according to Lin, was before diversity and inclusion became major talking points for the entertainment industry amid #OscarsSoWhite, the murder of George Floyd and the Stop Asian Hate movement.

“They chose to seed their time and resources to develop me into an executive and later into a producer,” Lin said. “And now I want to do the same for the next generation.”

Now, Lin, who identifies as Asian American, has developed a program to give other creatives the support they need to take their careers to the next level. With $1 million in funding to date, he has launched Rideback Rise, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering Black, Indigenous and Black creatives through grants and networking events.

Headquartered at Lin’s Rideback Ranch creative facility in Los Angeles’ Historic Filipinotown, the 501(c)(3) organization has two arms.

One is an annual grant program for creators and entrepreneurs that helps participants get their project ready to pitch to city leaders, whether it’s a film, TV show, podcast, or something else. Fellows can apply in the fall for the first round, which begins in October with the announcement of the first five participants. They each receive a $50,000 stipend.

The other part is called Rise Circle, a series of events and programs for a growing community of around 500 diverse artists and business people built through invitation and word of mouth. At a pre-launch event even in October, comedian Hasan Minhaj flew out to attend a comedy masterclass at Rideback Ranch, which was attended by about 100 people.

Lin calls Rideback Rise an “accelerator,” meaning he’s not looking for people who are just now hoping to get their start.

“There are many programs for beginners in Hollywood,” Lin said. “There aren’t many so-called accelerators where you have a project or a business that you need help getting to the next level.”

Production company Lin’s Rideback has invested approximately $150,000 and more than a thousand man-hours in the project so far. Rise has received financial support from philanthropic groups such as the Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Zelnick Belzberg Charitable Trust, the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, and the UTA Foundation.

As chair of the nonprofit’s board of directors, Lin would like to raise an additional $1 million in seed funding and approximately $2 million in working capital.

Rideback Rise retains a small interest in any film, show, or other project that is sold and produced, and reinvests its fees back into the program.

“I want this to be self-sustaining in the future,” Lin said, while noting that the program will likely always need foundation support. “I want to show that diversity is good business.”

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/business/story/2022-07-20/it-producer-dan-lin-sets-up-creator-accelerator-for-racial-equity-in-hollywood ‘It’ producer Dan Lin sets up accelerator for racial equity

Sarah Ridley

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