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State Representative Mable Thomas champions diversity in Georgia film industry

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Mable Thomas making strides for diversity and inclusion within film industry for minorities. (WTGS FOX 28)

An open forum was hosted by State Representative Mable Thomas from District 56 on Thursday.

The venue was Savannah State University and the workshop focused on ensuring diversity and inclusion in the $7 billion film and television industry.

One of Thomas’ goals is to strengthen the efforts of existing incentives, such as the film tax credit and the newly created Georgia Film Academy.

Thomas is Chair of the House Study Committee on Georgia Minority Participation in the Film and Television Industry.

She said she feels that having properly trained people in the industry will not only create jobs throughout Georgia, but will more likely provide incentive for production companies to return to places like Savannah.

“We want jobs for Georgians. Where people can begin to cut their costs and where they cut costs is to use the qualified work force that we have in Georgia. What we call 'a ready crews' so they don't have to bring their people from California and New York,” said Thomas.

Kai Walker is an Assistant Professor of Journalism at Savannah State University, and she said she could not agree more with Thomas.

“The residents of those cities can benefit from the industry work in the industry and feed their families from the industry,” said Walker.

According to Representative Thomas, it is vital to start job creation at universities like Savannah State.

President of Savannah State University, Dr. Cheryl Dozier said her students will graduate well prepared for the Film Industry.

“They are majoring in all of the areas that make them ripe and ready to work in the film and TV industry here in Georgia,” said Dozier.

Georgia offers a variety of locales from the coastline to the mountains, grasslands, small towns, and thriving metropolises.

Thomas said she knows that saving time and money will attract more industry to the state and wants Coastal Georgia to be included.

According to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the broadcast production industry is responsible for nearly 80,000 jobs in Georgia and $4 billion in total wages.

The following Georgia colleges and universities provide certificate and degree programs in film and television-related disciplines:

  • Georgia Film Academy (multiple campuses)
  • American InterContinental University
  • Andrew College, Cuthbert
  • Argosy University
  • Art Institute of Atlanta
  • Berry College
  • Chattahoochee Technical College
  • Clark Atlanta University
  • Clayton State University
  • Connecticut School of Broadcasting
  • Emory University
  • Georgia College, Milledgeville
  • Georgia Southern University
  • Georgia State University
  • SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design)
  • University of Georgia
  • University of Phoenix, Columbus
  • Valdosta State University

According to the MPAA, there are nearly 3,000 production industry businesses in Georgia. The major hubs for those are Atlanta and Savannah.