Howdy Partner: How Rideback Rise Aims to Nurture Creators of Color

How do you change a culture? Influence the storytellers. That’s the vision that drives the work of Rideback Rise, the nonprofit organization founded by producer Dan Lin to provide support to creators of color.

On the latest episode of Variety podcast “Strictly Business,” Diana Mogollón, the newly appointed CEO of Rideback Rise, details the annual fellowship program run by Rideback Rise as well as the many mentoring and networking events held at its Rideback Ranch facility in Los Angeles’ Historic Filipintown neighborhood near Silver Lake. The work and communal spaces were built out three years ago in an abandonded post office on Beverly Boulevard that Lin and partners outfitted as prime creative space.

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Mogollón explains that Rideback Rise’s fellowship program is focused on providing career boosters for creatives who have some experience but need the luxury of time and focus to take their work to the next level.

“To help mid-level creators is very specific, because that’s the point where creators — whether from film or television — they’ve been staffed in rooms or they’ve already directed some shorts. But that’s where you’re really at a crossroads,” Mogollón says. “You either double down and say ‘This is it, I’m going to keep creating’ or you leave the business because it’s hard and challenging — and more so now than ever.”

Lin is a prolific film producer known for working with Warner Bros. on “The Lego Movie” and its spinoffs, “Sherlock Holmes,” “Godzilla vs. Kong” and many others. In February, he joined Netflix as head of film. But his commitment to Rideback Rise has not waned.

“Dan’s vision is for us to work on commercial, mainstream projects to really help propel narrative change and to impact culture,” Mogollón says.

The fellows who work with Rideback Rise receive a stipend for a year to develop big ideas and franchise concepts. Rideback Rise sees itself as a “nonprofit studio” that helps the fellows develop and package projects that are camera-ready to be shopped to network and studio buyers, Mogollón says.

“They come out with finished products — scripts, pitch decks and we do everything we can as a nonprofit to pair them and match them with producers, studios, buyers. So they’re literally at the 10-yard line” when the fellowship ends, Mogollón says.

Mogollón is well suited for her new role. She previously worked as a top programing executive for NBCUniversal’s Mundos Spanish-language cable network. She spent the past eight years at Warner Bros. as senior VP and general amanger of its Stage 13 digital content unit. She’s encouraged by the ideas and innovative spirit of this year’s group of Rideback Rise fellows and is eager to expand the nonprofit’s programs next year.

“I’ve been very impressed with the fact that [the fellows] show up and they’re willing to work on themselves as their ideas are going from little concepts all the way to these amazing projects,” Mogollón says. “I’m so excited about where they’re gonna go in their careers.”

“Strictly Business” is Variety’s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of media and entertainment. (Please click here to subscribe to our free newsletter.) New episodes debut every Wednesday and can be downloaded at Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Spotify, Google Play, SoundCloud and more.

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