russell simmons*It looks like YouTube is doing what Hollywood just somehow couldn’t or wasn’t willing to do all these years. And that is provide serious opportunities to African American players in entertainment.

The prodigious internet brand and cultural icon is providing a platform for content creators such as Shaquille O’Neal, Jay-Z, Diddy and Russell Simmons, among others, to create their own channels on YouTube, reports the LA Times.

Now Simmons is moving to Los Angeles to spearhead ADD Video, a YouTube channel designed for what he describes as a “post-racial America.” It will offer lifestyle programming, and showcase the current and rising stars from entertainment, music, fashion, sports and film, with a focus on the kind of diversity that the mainstream media is missing.

“Hollywood doesn’t realize — it’s not like ‘Do more black stuff,’ ” Simmons said. “I’m an American. I don’t want to be patronized. I want to be included.”

Simmon’s ADD Video is among a number of new YouTube channels targeting African American, Asian American and Latino viewers who already flock to the site by the millions. YouTube executives see an opportunity to fund original programming for these audiences, which are underserved by traditional media.

Some of the most recognizable names in the entertainment industry — including rappers Jay-Z, Queen Latifah and Diddy, and former BET Entertainment President Reginald Hudlin — will unveil channels in the coming weeks, joining those already launched by former Los Angeles Laker Shaquille O’Neal, Grammy Award-winning musician Pharrell Williams and “The Original Kings of Comedy” producer Walter Latham. YouTube also announced Monday that it would fund a new generation of original channels in Europe.

In other words, and this is the whole point, traditional media — particularly film and television — have been slow to embrace multiculturalism, either in front of the camera and or behind it.

Therein lies the opportunity for YouTube. Minorities watch videos on YouTube at a higher rate than white viewers, according to a study by ratings firm Nielsen. Roughly 6 in 10 African Americans and Latinos in the United States access the site in a typical month, as do 7 in 10 Asian Americans. In contrast, 58% of whites spend time on YouTube.

“These voices aren’t really heard loudly on other platforms,” said Malik Ducard, YouTube’s director of content partnerships. It’s a “really amazing and large opportunity we have with online distribution for the African American marketplace, for the Latino and for the Asian audiences that hunger for content. And we are happy to get it and serve it up for them.”

Entertainment executives are eager to fill the entertainment void.

“We all know where the world’s going,” said O’Neal said. “People are always on their phones, on their laptops, on their iPads. When YouTube made the announcement [last fall] that they wanted to do original channels, I thought it would be good to do a Shaq comedy channel.”

Read/learn more at LA Times.shaquille oneal