“Mentorship is essential for underrepresented creatives," says Emmy® Award winning writer and producer of Showtime’s The Chi, Lena Waithe. "Their stories are necessary for our culture and our collective growth.” Perhaps that's what inspired the artist to assume the position of Lead Mentor for the Hello Lab Mentorship Program, powered by AT&T.
Since 2017, the program has empowered emerging Filmmakers from underrepresented communities by producing their short films and leveraging owned platforms like AT&T TV and AT&T TV NOW to help them grow their audiences. Through their partnership with Waithe, AT&T has expanded its vision for mentorship to include music, connecting musicians on the verge with Filmmakers to produce thought-provoking music videos and leveraging AT&T’s vast portfolio of events, partnerships, and sponsorships to bring their music and videos to the masses.
Waithe and AT&T have produced four diverse and creatively ambitious music videos directed by Hollywood’s next generation of filmmakers. Waithe curated the artist selection process, identifying talent and mentoring them through the production of each video, and we’re sharing the result of months of hard work from all parties involved.
Here are Lena Waithe’s Artists You Should Know, Presented by AT&T:
Andy Allo, “Angels Make Love” directed by Sean Frank
Just two years after singer and songwriter Andy Allo released her first album, UnFresh, she joined Prince's New Power Generation as a singer/guitarist and worked with the legendary artist to develop her sophomore album, Superconductor. That album featured a funk/soul sound, which landed at #4 on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart. She has performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Guitar Center Sessions and showed her acoustic chops on a Billboard Sessions exclusive.
Now Andy has a new single titled, “Angels Make Love”. Of her new project, Allo explains, “I feel like this is just the beginning of my story. It’s a journey and I feel with each record I'm getting closer to who I am as an artist and songwriter. There's still a lot I want to share with the world." After touring extensively throughout Europe and Canada last year, she completed a 25-city U.S. tour and a residency in Melbourne, Australia. She also co-stars in the anticipated sequel, Pitch Perfect 3 and is the lead of a new Amazon-produced TV show titled Upload from the creators of The Office.
See behind-the-scenes of musician Andy Allo and director Sean Frank’s experience making the video for “Angels Make Love” below:
Chika, “Hi Rises” directed by Cierra Glaude
Chika is an artist with a unique combination of lyrical prowess, melodic intuition and raw talent. Self-identified as part of the LGBTQ+ community and never afraid to speak her mind, Chika’s rise has come from her freestyle verses that became impactful viral moments. Who can forget when she covered Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” as a pride anthem, delivered a visceral freestyle clap-back to Kanye West’s rogue antics and executed a hard-hitting version of Cardi B’s latest single “Money”.
She has also caught the attention of some of the industry greats such as Missy Elliot, Cardi B, Kahlani, Common, and Ice T, as well as has gotten praise for her verse in the BET Hip Hop Awards cypher with Erykah Badu. She dropped her first song and music video called “No Squares” this April, giving hungry fans their first taste of her full artistry. Expect more to come from Chika soon, as she recently signed to Warner Records.
See behind-the-scenes of musician Chika and director Cierra Glaude’s experience making the video for “Hi Rises” below:
Durand Bernarr, “Around” directed by Jingyi Shao
Music is in artist Durand Bernarr’s DNA. Thanks to his mother who was a professional music teacher and vocal coach, and his father who provided sound and tour production to some of the greats such as Jill Scott, Jay-Z, Adele, Earth, Wind & Fire, and the late Whitney Houston, Durand was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to learn from music legends. He has produced collaborations with Earth, Wind & Fire, The Internet, Maxwell, Sarah Vaughan, Chaka Khan, Cameo, the Foreign Exchange, and YahZarah.
Bernarr also has a close relationship with the iconic Erykah Badu. He dedicated his second album, 8ight: The Stepson of Erykah Badu, to her. Badu invited him to join her on tour as a part of her band, Neda Stella, with whom he still tours with today. With a voice like melted butter and the stage presence like warm cornbread to match, Durand has set out to share his music worldwide and to have fans leave his shows with a piece of him. His highly anticipated release, The Soundcheck EP, is a testament to his growth as he showcases not only his lyrical cadence, vocal abilities, and storytelling.
See behind-the-scenes of musician Durand Bernarr and director Jingyi Shao’s experience making the video for “Around” below:
Gavin Turek, “2am” directed by Tiffany Johnson
LA-native Gavin Turek is a force to be reckoned with. If you’re not struck by her signature 70s fringe ensemble (normally designed by the artist herself in every color) or her silky dance moves (she originally aspired to be a professional dancer), it might only take one note of her soulful pop vocalist style to convert you into a lifelong fan.
Though she takes inspiration from major artists the likes of Prince, Lauryn Hill, Diana Ross, and Stevie Wonder, two artists in particular have had a lasting effect on her career. The first is TOKiMONSTA, the brainfeeder genius who collaborated on the popular hit “Darkest Dim”, and even went on to produce a mini album together, You’re Invited. Also important to her career was Mayer Hawthorne, who brought her on a sold-out tour for his opening set and asked her to join him in a new retro funk act, Tuxedo. All this has led to Turek’s work being featured in the likes of Netflix’s Dear White People, HBO’s High Maintenance, and a live performance on Conan. And this year is set to be even bigger for the artist, when she joins everyone’s favorite ‘Lesbian Jesus’ Hayley Kiyoko on her U.S. tour, and gears up to release her first full-length solo LP.
See behind-the-scenes of musician Gavin Turek and director Tiffany Johnson’s experience making the video for “2am” below:
Find out more about Lena Waithe’s Artists You Should Know, Presented by AT&T here.