The Bridge Lab
We support TurnING
Potential Into Purpose
The Bridge Lab provides equitable access to career development for the film and television industries with educational opportunities, employment entry points, and advocacy. Our programs help young adults from underserved communities bridge gaps between their talent and hard to obtain access, information, and networks.
We Educate. Prepare. Connect.
We bridge the gap between underrepresented, talented youth and the media and entertainment companies−traditionally inaccessible to this community.
Our signature initiative, offered quarterly, joins film screenings with lab sessions on career insights with crew, studio executives, and Academy members. Other points of engagement are curated experiential learning opportunities in small groups to increase exposure, knowledge share and networking. In 2020, we expanded our programming to provide a track for participants with post-secondary/grad degrees and an interest in pursuing senior leadership in entertainment and media.
Working in academic, educational environments, we provide talented youth with access to industry pros, lead creatives, and academy members who share valuable insights and inform career pathways.
From initial lab sessions to developmental guidance to career counsel, we foster opportunity.
Generating New Ideas. Solving Big Problems
We partner with forward thinking community-based institutions. We have collaborations with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and Howard University School of Law.
EVENT SCREENING AND LAB SESSIONS SINCE 2018
Bridge Lab Fellows launched
industry professionals volunteered
Why We Are Different
Our ongoing workshops provide rare, first hand access to seasoned professionals in local, comfortable environments. We provide free film screenings, Q&A sessions with industry professionals from the screened film and a wide variety of careers. Our lab sessions are breakout, small group sessions where young would be professionals can share and exchange questions, insights and learning with industry veterans.
The Bridge Lab Screening and Lab sessions
Our event based labs are introductory, educational workshops with a centerpiece event screening followed by working sessions led by creatives from the project screened, Academy members and other industry professionals. The themes of the labs are career pathways and moving the young attendees into those careers with information and guidance gathered from the professionals.
The Bridge Lab Fellows
The Bridge Lab Fellows is an executive leadership development initiative. The Bridge Lab selects and guides vetted, qualified graduate level students from underrepresented communities through a 10 to 13 month process to accelerate advancement toward careers as executives in the entertainment and media industry.
William Keys, Founder and CEO of The Bridge Lab, experienced, firsthand, challenges to breaking into the entertainment industry. He used his initial role as a first-time production assistant, as a point of entry to network and build for future professional positions. His opportunities included climbing the production ladder on set of New York’s studio and indie films, documentaries, commercials, and music videos. He navigated “backdoors” into jobs that could evolve into permanent positions at studios. William worked at Artisan Entertainment, Focus Features, Miramax, and The Shooting Gallery in a variety of capacities learning the business side of entertainment.
He credits his time spent as Head of Acquisitions for Film Movement, one of the first ever subscription film services, as an impactful professional experience. Through that opportunity, William traveled to top territories to screen, acquire, and distribute films from the significant industry festivals. William learned to develop counter measures to indifference such as varying networks, acquiring new skill sets mid career, and employing rigor over rigidity while seeking advancement. Analysis of the industry and professional careers of peers and leaders provided early and reliable lessons regarding equity, diversity and value in the entertainment marketplace.
William continues to consult individual creators, companies, while producing his own storytelling projects. This cross-section of professional experiences shaped an ethos for how to strategically address inequities within the entertainment industry with the Bridge Lab model.
Board of Directors
Shaba R. Keys
An experienced leader in achieving equitable access to opportunities for overlooked and undervalued people and communities. Currently, Shaba serves as Associate Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, Office of Public Affairs at Columbia University in the City of New York. Prior to her role at Columbia, Shaba held positions to develop and grow public-private partnerships for community development in underinvested communities at Enterprise Community Partners, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and Surdna Foundation. She led national evaluative assessments to inform and scale collaborative networks among community-based organizations, local and elected leadership, and corporations.
Shaba is also an active advocate for community development in Upper Manhattan. She serves as Board Chair for The Boys and Girls Club of Harlem and is a member of the Harlem Cultural Collaborative. At Columbia University, she serves as an advisory member for Youth in a Changing World, Committee on Global Thought and is a member of the University Seminar, Collaborative of Community Programs for Youth & Families.
Shaba completed the Senior Leaders Program for Nonprofit Professionals at Columbia Business School Executive Education. She received a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science from Tufts University and a Juris Doctor from The Columbus School of Law, Catholic University.
René is a consultant based in Washington, DC. He specializes in workforce development; diversity, equity and inclusion; financial empowerment and asset-building for underserved populations.
Prior to launching his consultancy, René served as senior leadership for policy programs, The Community Strategies Group (CSG) and Skills for America’s Future (SAF), at Aspen Institute. At CSG, René led design, development, and facilitation work to convene, equip, and inspire local leaders to build more prosperous regions throughout the country. At SAF, he developed programming for, implemented public private partnerships with, and conducted analysis of a business-led initiative to create partnerships between employers and community colleges to match training and education to jobs.
René has served on a number of non-profit boards and is an experienced board and staff facilitator. In addition to the board of The Bridge Lab, he also serves on the boards of the Campaign for Youth Justice and HIPS. His past service has included positions on the boards of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and Pacifica Foundation.
René is a graduate of Columbia University and the UCLA School of Law