Championing Diversity in Scotland's film and TV industry with BE United

“When there’s diversity, it makes everything so much better.”

BE United is an arts, cultural and social entrepreneurial organisation that was set up in 2013 by co-founders Emma Picken and Boysie Gumede. BE United began in South Africa to address a scarcity of opportunities for the Black community to engage in extracurricular activities within the arts. Having seen that there was a similar lack of representation in Scotland, Emma made it her mission to see a greater diversity of voices within Scotland’s arts community.

The Edinburgh based organisation has since grown from strength to strength, advocating for and celebrating Black, African and Caribbean excellence in Scotland across music, dance, photography and, most recently, film and TV.

BE United’s film and TV trading arm began after meeting with Amazon Studios through an introduction by Screen Scotland. The organisation secured a contract with the major production studios to cast Black extras for Amazon’s television adaption of Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys which shot in Edinburgh’s FirstStage Studios earlier this year. 

BE United was able to successfully cast over 1000 diverse extras for Anansi Boys with a number of them going on to work in production roles on set.

We sat down with BE United’s Emma Picken and Head of Creative Development Collin Hills to talk about the organisation’s film and TV trading arm and their hopes for the future. We also spoke with several extras about their experience working on Anansi Boys.

Watch the full video feature below.

For more information about BE United and the work they do, please visit the BE United website.

Read our case study on Amazon's investment in Scotland's screen sector.

Header image: Courtesy of BE United, credit: Nathinze