Harlem leads professionals, scholars from underrepresented communities to Cannes Festival

Darla Miles Image
Friday, June 16, 2023

HARLEM, Manhattan (WABC) -- Long Island native Courtney Jackson is packing her suitcase - without her mother - and is jetting off to Cannes on Sunday in an instruction to the global, creative stage.

"These large global festivals that we traditionally don't have access to, I want to expose our young people to these festivals and expose them to global communities," said the Founder of the Cannes Can: Diversity Collective, Adrianne Smith.

The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity was established in the late 1940s after the Cannes Film Festival.

Smith, a Harlem resident and DE&I executive attended in 2017.

"There were 12,000 people there, but only 200 looked like me," she said.

That is when Smith founded the Cannes Can Diversity Collective Inkwell Beach. In five years, the initiative has multiplied from five to 25 participants and an extended week of programming.

"I'm just going to bring that, I'm just going to bring young people back to Cannes next year, and we're going to change how everything looks," Smith said.

Jackson has been selected as an ambassador for the 2023 cohort.

"I feel super supported, very motivated, but definitely nervous. I don't know what to expect, I'm trying to set a plan," Jackson said.

"It's actually going to the first room where I'm not one of only. So I'm really looking forward to what everyone else is doing, what everyone else is bringing to the table," said Cannes Can Ambassador Taylor Mullins.

On the table - sessions ranging in scope from technology to sports entertainment to gaming in the TV, print, and digital ad and marketing spaces.

"There are so many of us out there who are Black and who are creative or who are from different ethnicities and backgrounds, and I feel like we're not always in the same room," said Mullins.

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It's the Cannes Festival of Creativity (as listed in track 2), NOT Cannes Film Festival

The name is correct in the script it's AdriAnne with an "a" not an "e"