( ENSPIRE Community Spotlight ) Stacy Milner and her EICOP Organization are Paving a Path to Success for Black Youth
ENSPIRE Contributor: Aspen Garritson
It is important to honor those who are paving new roads and leading our new generation of creators: enter Stacy Milner, a successful self-made Black female entrepreneur with businesses that are shifting the stories told and future leaders in our industry. She has slowly and meticulously built companies to offer a pipeline to bring more diverse voices into the entertainment sphere; this is especially impressive considering she did not go to college herself.
Stacy didn’t see a path for Black youth in entertainment, so the only thing she could do is create one herself. A true change-maker, Stacy is the Founder and CEO of Executive Temps, a premiere employment agency that has exclusively served the entertainment industry for over 30 years. In 2015, Stacy founded the Entertainment Industry College Outreach Program (EICOP). With its signature program, HBCU in LA, EICOP works with the biggest celebrities, agencies, networks & studios in an effort to educate, recruit and develop a culturally and ethnically diverse workforce. The organization brings college students from minority-serving institutions across the country to the city of Los Angeles, where the heart of all entertainment lives. The program’s success is proven in its intern-to-hire conversion rate of 90%.
What strategies did you employ to build a culturally and ethnically diverse workforce through the Entertainment Industry College Outreach Program (EICOP)?
EICOP employed a strategy that took the industry back to its roots of recruiting talent from institutions of higher learning. Only this time the institutions would include HBCUs and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). In 2010, some of the world’s leading entertainment, media, and communication companies joined us for our inaugural HBCU College tour. The tour brought an educational career forum to inform students and faculty about the myriad of career pathways and to demystify the fact that Hollywood is more than writing, acting, directing, and producing.
After years of hearing the industry talk about the importance of employing a diverse workforce, we provided the solution for the industry to recruit a culturally and ethnically diverse workforce that truly reflects the communities it serves. The success of our HBCU College Tour led to our premiere internship program, HBCU IN LA. This innovative internship program is the first HBCU Los Angeles and now New York-based immersive program of its kind. Together, with the support of our industry partners, we are equipping a diverse pipeline of talent ready for hire in today’s global creative workforce.
How has the HBCU in LA program contributed to bridging the gap between minority-serving institutions and the entertainment industry?
The HBCU IN LA internship program in seven short years has played a major role when it comes to bridging the gap between our nation’s minority-serving institutions (MSIs) and the entertainment industry. We are shining a spotlight on the talent long produced by these historic and storied institutions while curating a vetted pool of talent for our industry partners to recruit for internships and other early career opportunities. The program eliminates systemic geographical and financial barriers many students of color face when accepting an internship by providing paid housing, paid internships, and educational programming that is not taught in the classroom.
A member of our 2018 & 2019 cohort is now a Literary Manager. This type of strategic and intentional program works! As our HBCU in LA alumni say, “Momma Stacy, we’re going to revolutionize this industry.” We create real diversity, equity, and inclusion across all aspects of the entertainment industry.
Can you discuss the importance of representation and diversity in the entertainment industry, and how your businesses are helping to address this issue?
Simply put, representation matters! The industry benefits when it embraces diverse voices and viewpoints for its consumers. It’s critical for guiding discourse about real people, places, and experiences. Everyone profits when representation is a priority. Our businesses have helped address this issue head-on by ensuring diverse talent gain access and opportunities inside of what we call, “Hollywood’s coveted inner circle.” Between our staffing agency and the HBCU In LA program, we are effectively providing a solution to the issues around representation, equity, and inclusion.
How do you envision the future of the entertainment industry in terms of inclusivity and diversity, and what role do you see your businesses playing in that future?
I am incredibly optimistic when it comes to the future of the entertainment industry moving the diversity and inclusion needle forward. The role that we will continue to play will be that of being a provider of diverse talent from early career to the C-Suite and beyond. We are helping to level the playing field and open not only the industry’s door but eyes to diverse talent across all aspects of the entertainment industry. With this type of strategic and intentional approach to inclusivity and diversity, I believe that our businesses will play a major role in the future as we continue this important and much-needed work. I envision a future where diversity becomes the fabric of our industry.
What are some of the success stories or memorable moments you’ve witnessed through your programs that showcase the transformative power of providing opportunities for diverse voices in entertainment?
As mentioned earlier, watching a member of our 2018 & 2019 cohort has joined the executive ranks with a 3-year deal as a literary manager has been one of the most memorable moments I’ve witnessed. And, it’s something I always knew was possible. The other would be hearing members of the cohort share their dreams of companies and creatives they hoped to work for one day and see them land opportunities with those companies.
One young lady’s dream was to work with Jordan Peel and today she’s working with Monkeypaw Productions. Another wanted to work with LeBron James and now she’s a coordinator at SpringHill Entertainment after spending a year with a major talent agency. Others have landed jobs at Disney/ABC, NBCUniversal, AEG, CAA, UTA, and WME to name a few. They are everywhere! Studios, networks, agencies, editors, VFX, post and production. We have a 90% conversion rate from intern to hire. This is what transformative power looks like when diverse voices are given opportunities.
How do you foster a supportive and inclusive environment within your organizations, and what steps do you take to ensure diversity and inclusion are upheld in all aspects of your businesses?
As a minority-owned small business and educational arts workforce development nonprofit organization, it is who we are. Every aspect of our business stems from fostering an inclusive and supportive environment in and outside of our organizations. This is reflected in our staff, our programming, and the work we do as change agents bringing real equity, diversity, and inclusion to the forefront of the industry and community we serve.
It’s no wonder that in certain circles, Milner is referred to as “Mama Stacy”; she has created organizations capable of providing a level of support and nurturing to many students and young workers that they might not have otherwise seen. EICOP has more than 20 industry partnerships and places 30-50 students at a time with many getting hired after. These companies are changing people’s careers for the better and set our young professionals up for success. Even looking past her companies, she is a success story for those who never had the chance to go to college, proving that anyone can achieve greatness with the right mindset.