*Russell Simmons did not hold back regarding his frustration with Hollywood during a recent Produced By Conference panel.
Discussing his inaugural All Def Movie Awards, presented in February by his millennial-centric multi-platform company All Def Digital as a diversity-promoting alternative to the Oscars, Simmons said: “Not one agent helped us. I didn’t get much help. I just want to abandon Hollywood and do my own s**t.”
The audience responded with loud applause, according to Deadline.com:
When earlier asked by moderator Tracey Edmonds how important it would be to the presidential election to reach an urban demographic, Simmons implied – without naming names – that he had recently discussed the subject with Hillary Clinton, who he’s endorsed.
“We need to get them motivated. I had a conversation for two hours probably about three days ago about this, actually, with our nominee,” he said. “We have to be creative. This group of people is going to be critical, and will pick the president, as they did President Obama.”
With 300 million monthly views of its digital video content across platforms including YouTube and Facebook, All Def Digital – just a year and a half old – has positioned itself as a go-to outlet for younger hip-hop identified audiences.
That audience is “multiracial and singularly cultural,” similar to the All Def Digital staff, Simmons said. There are also multiple films in development, from comedies to a hip-hop opera to action thrillers.
All Def “is kind of like an urban VICE,” said Simmons. “Hip-hop is a broad pop phenomenon … All the movies we have in development have strong international appeal, and TV shows too.”
Simmons became philosophical when asked about how to best deal with rejection. The longtime hip-hop pioneer, who produced his first film in 1985 and executive produced Def Comedy Jam from 1992 to 2008, spoke passionately about authenticity and perseverance.
“If you have faith and an idea, it can never go away,” he said. “You have to stay on your hustle. It may evolve. It may not be what you first envisioned.”