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From Howard to Hollywood

Howard Really Affirmed My Beliefs That Black People Aren’t A Monolith.”

by Misha Cornelius
Close up headshot of Layne

When Layne Eskridge (BA ’04) launched her production company, POV, in 2020, she did so with diverse storytelling in mind. She also had the training, experience, and a network of Black talent and industry creatives to bring along with her.

“It’s really important for there to be more of us behind the camera,” says Eskridge. “That’s where the decisions are made. I’ve been doing this for 14 years, and I’m just now going out on my own. It’s been a mix of opportunity and getting in the door, but you shouldn’t be discouraged by that. There’s a lot of opportunity there.”

When she secured an investment from Endeavor Content earlier this year, she says it was the kind of deal that is critical to achieving equity in the industry.

“I tried a lot and had a lot of experiences,” Eskridge says about her career. “I liked being a connector and giving people a chance. Even in my career, I love saying ‘yes!’ Saying ‘yes,’ and then being right, and having the world receive it.”

And the world of television seems to say ‘yes’ back. Throughout her career, Eskridge has worked with some of the top media companies and world-renowned writers and producers. Most recently, she worked as a creative executive at Apple, and before that, she was a development executive at Netflix, overseeing production on shows like “Ozark,” Spike Lee’s “She’s Gotta Have It,” and Ava DuVernay’s “When They See Us.” She was an executive for Ellen Degeneres’ company A Very Good Production and worked as a member of Universal Cable Productions.

Now she’s venturing off on her own as the founder of the film and television production company POV. Its mission is to tell stories with people of color and women at the center of genre tales. POV takes on classic storytelling from a different perspective, as its name would suggest. Upcoming projects include a limited series based on the best-selling book, “The Plot,” starring two-time Oscar winner Mahershala Ali. Having received multiple offers from pitching the project alone, Layne says the demand for the project was unexpected and represents a career highlight. She’s also developing a project called “The Fox” alongside Howard alumnus Brian Chamberlayne (BA ’04) set to feature actor Andre Holland.

Eskridge’s passion for television started at an early age. She grew up being engulfed in movies and television and recalls attending every opening night with her father, who was passionate about theater and the arts. As an undergraduate student in the Cathy Hughes School of Communications, Eskridge appreciated Howard as a welcome change and the place where she launched her career as a successful television executive committed to sharing diverse stories.

“Howard really affirmed my beliefs that Black people aren’t a monolith,” Eskridge says. “Culturally, I got to experience students from Africa and the Caribbean. Even the students from the coast, like Los Angeles, walked to the beat of their own drum. But it also reinforced that I never really saw my experience reflected in movies and television. It was either experiences I related to, but with white characters, or it was a Black experience that wasn’t necessarily my own. My mission was to broaden the portrayal of people of color on screen. Howard helped me figure out my lane.”

This story appears in the Winter 2022 issue.
Article ID: 631

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