Meet the mission-driven production company that makes movies to change minds


The entrant is a 2021 Inc. Best in Business winner. With the second annual Best in Business, Inc. award recognizes companies that have made an exceptional impact on their industries, communities, the environment and society as a whole.

Since its inception in Beverly Hills, Calif., In 2004, the production company Participant has successfully pursued a mission to win hearts, minds and, if possible, the Oscars. His hugely popular films, with 21 Oscars among them, including for Al Gore’s groundbreaking documentary on climate change, An inconvenient truth– aim to inspire the public to engage in social change.

The films, however, are only the starting point for more ambitious initiatives. Take for example, Judas and the Black Messiah, which debuted in 2021 and tells the story of Black Panther Party chairman Fred Hampton. In directing the film – which marked the first film with an all-black production crew to be nominated for Best Picture – the contestant worked with nonprofit partners, such as the Dr Huey P. Newton Foundation, to develop an educational guide for high-level students. schools and colleges and an online video series on the history of black activism.

“The film itself is amazing, but what Participant did with their impact campaign just took it to a whole new level,” said Fredrika Newton, co-founder and president of the Dr Huey P. Newton Foundation, which is dedicated to preserving and disseminating the history, ideals and legacy of the Black Panther Party and Newton, its co-founder. “They amplified our work and included us in their initiatives and we just couldn’t be more grateful. It really catapulted us into more visibility and more possibilities.”

The participant is currently leading a petition to turn Hampton’s Chicago home into a historic landmark. Another small example of the company’s influence: Inspired by JudasRep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) this year reintroduced a bill to remove J. Edgar Hoover’s name from FBI headquarters in Washington because of his efforts to block the civil rights movement.

“We trust our artists, they see the most pressing issues of our time around every corner,” said Participant CEO David Linde. “But it is only through our partnerships that we can accelerate change.”

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Extract from the Winter 2021/2022 issue of Inc. Magazine


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