There are many spaces that attempt to prevent Black women from thriving and the comedy industry is no different. However, with Kevin Hart’s Hartbeat — the multi-platform media company founded by the Philadelphia comedian — that’s not the case.

In May, the company announced the return of its Women Write Now comedic screenwriting fellowship, which is on a mission to champion the next generation of Black women through advocacy, exhibition, mentorship, and production.

The company’s CEO, Thai Randolph, led the most recent funding round, which totaled $100 million, and is excited to play a role in helping to greenlight projects led by women who look like her.

“This program really has been a labor of love, but also, a real point of both passion and purpose,” Randolph told AfroTech in an exclusive interview. “The whole founding insight for the program was a very clear observation and experience that there are not enough Black women in the seat to greenlight things, which I am now. And, so, there’s a responsibility that comes with that.”

Smashing Glass Ceilings

Although comedy can sometimes feel like a boy’s club, specifically when it comes to stand-up, Randolph is leveraging some of its business partners to drive true change for creatives in the industry who don’t always get the opportunity or the resources needed to push their ideas forward.

“Hartbeat was in a really unique position in conjunction with our partners, like Chase, who sponsored the program, Sundance Institute, who was our creative partner, and NBC Peacock, who was our distribution partner,” she explained. “We were in a really unique position to drive some change, and so that was sort of the driving force behind expanding the Women Write Now program for a second installation.”

The Time Is Now

Women Write Now is vital to the community because it provides a space that is often hard to come by.

“They’re definitely programs that exist, but very few that provide the care and support and level of community that you see here, like our participants in the last cycle, both the writers and the directors,” Randolph explained. “We had Bresha Webb, Gabrielle Dennis, and Meagan Good, and every time we got together, whether it was for brunch, on set for production, or we were celebrating films in a screening — it’s just the sisterhood and the good vibes and real care and camaraderie that came out [of the program]. That’s something I didn’t even see on the page, it exceeded my wildest dreams for the program, and I’m really excited about this upcoming cycle.”