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 media and entertainment companies which have traditionally been 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.
Workshops / Labs
Working in academic, educational settings, we provide talented youth with access to industry pros, lead creatives, and academy members who share valuable insights and career pathways information.
From initial lab sessions to developmental guidance to career counsel, we foster opportunity.
Generating New Ideas. Solving Big Problems
We are not in this alone. We have collaborations with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Howard University School of Law.
event screening and Lab sessions from 2018 to 2019
Bridge Lab Fellows launched
industry professionals volunteered
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
A leader with over 20 years of experience in the practice of social enterprise to foster sustainable change in communities. Currently, she serves as Associate Vice President, Strategic Initiatives at Columbia University. In this role she administers discretionary projects and programs in the Office of Public Affairs, working with partners and affiliates across the University to facilitate designated strategic priorities and outcomes. She also serves as an advisory member for Columbia Community Service and the Youth in a Changing World Planning Committee for the Committee on Global Thought; and as a member of the University Seminar, Columbia University Collaborative of Community Programs for Youth & Families.
Prior to her role at Columbia, she worked with Enterprise Community Partners, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and Surdna Foundation to deepen public-private partnerships for growth in underinvested communities. She led national evaluative assessments while building collaborative networks among CBOs, local and elected leadership, and corporate stakeholders. Shaba received a B.A. from Tufts University and a J.D. from The Columbus School of Law, Catholic University. She is currently enrolled in the Senior Leaders Program with Executive Education at Columbia Business School.
As well as her service on board of The Bridge Lab, she is an active advocate for communities and families in Northern Manhattan. In this capacity, she serves as Board Chair for The Boys and Girls Club of Harlem; and is a member of The Harlem Cultural Collaborative, Office of The Manhattan Borough President.
Rene is a consultant based in Washington, DC specializing in program strategy for workforce development, financial empowerment and asset-building for underserved populations. For over two decades, he has developed strategic programming to provide under resourced communities access to social and economic opportunity. He is an experienced advocate, facilitator, researcher, writer and director of multi-site programs.
Prior to launching his consultancy, Rene served as senior leadership for policy programs, The Community Strategies Group (CSG) and Skills for America’s Future (SAF), at Aspen Institute. At CSG, Rene 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.
Rene is a graduate of Columbia University and the UCLA School of Law