KEEP WALKING FOR PROGRESS & APPLY FOR A FIRST STRIDES GRANT

To support those on the road to achieving boundary-breaking firsts, we’ve launched a series of grant programs to help create more opportunities for women, Black creators, and cultural innovators on their journey towards creating positive impact through their work.

CELEBRATING AND ENABLING FIRST STRIDES

The Johnnie Walker First Strides initiative celebrates, inspires and enables people and organizations taking bold strides towards progress, and pushing boundaries to move culture forward for all.

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To empower people to take their first strides and inspire the next ones, Johnnie Walker is looking to support the goals of inspiring cultural innovators. For anyone who is ready to Keep Walking with Johnnie Walker and make a positive impact in the world, apply for a Johnnie Walker First Strides Grant.

Learn More and Apply Here

BLACK ART IS FOREVER

The Johnnie Walker x Blacktag First Strides Creator Grant Program is an empowering initiative to bring Black creators’ visions into fruition through exposure, funding and mentorship. In celebration of those leading the next generation of cultural curators, the program is proud to announce its first five grant recipients who will develop and produce their next project alongside the Blacktag team with powerhouse writer and producer Kenya Barris.

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CHIDOZIE EKWENSI

As a queer first generation Nigerian American artist, Chidozie Ekwensi draws inspiration from his own experiences to encourage others facing similar realities. Based in Brooklyn, he is currently crafting his latest work [quarter life] — a semi-autobiographical series following a 25-year-old NYC creative searching for love and meaning after coming out to his parents and quitting the corporate world. Through authentic and humorous storytelling, Chidozie strives to showcase fresh perspectives within the exploration of defining one’s identity.

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AMANDA GORDON

Aspiring to specialize in originating unique stories, writer and director Amanda Gordon has recently been tapping into the paradox of desirability that coincides with Black women at the disposal of public judgement. Nuts, Amanda’s developing coming of age short film, revolves around a single night ensuing of comedic chaos and personal growth through the lens of religion, friendship, and desire. Her narratives reflect reality as one is met with truths behind the stakes that come with a desperate longing for acceptance.

Skylar Rochon

SKYLAR ROCHON

Unfiltered narratives about young Black womanhood are at the core of NYC-based Sarah Rochon’s hyperbolic, slightly comedic, and vigilantly honest writing. Most recently, she has been developing a dramatic-comedy web series called the first 30 days, centered around the journeys of 3 roommates navigating a new city together. Sarah’s desire to uncover the unspoken struggles and perplexing experiences of adulting connect her with audiences through transparent vulnerability.

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LACHELLE WATSON

Writer and director LaChelle Watson uses her creative platform to amplify voices of marginalized communities. Her latest short film in progress titled One of The Guys is inspired by LaChelle’s past as a woman in the music industry, unravelling the complexities of platonic male-female relationships and subliminal toxic masculinity within close-knit friendships. Bold ideas and thought-provoking themes encapsulate her work her work, aiming to shed a light on everyday experiences that are often overlooked.

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JUAN WOOD II

Juan Wood is an actor, writer, and producer who seeks to portray Black characters in ways they’ve never been depicted before. His up and coming film project Movers tells the story of two money-hungry brothers who share the same intellect for heinous activities, but find conflict in morality, leading to a rocky shift from being trivial thieves to meticulous heist men. Through humility and empathy, Juan provides his audiences with insight into the lives of those who are cut from different sides of the same culture.

FIRST STRIDES FOR WOMEN
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Johnnie Walker and IFundWomen, the go-to funding marketplace for women-owned businesses, teamed up once again to support trailblazing women-owned businesses who are pushing boundaries to move culture forward and create more opportunities for women to achieve their goals.

LEARN MORE AND MEET THE IFUNDWOMEN X JOHNNIE WALKER FIRST STRIDES GRANT RECIPIENTS 

ANGEL CITY FOOTBALL CLUB x LOS ANGELES TRAILBLAZERS

Continuing to empower and uplift women in partnership with IFundWomen and Angel City Football Club, the Johnnie Walker ‘First Strides’ initiative honored Los Angeles-based innovators by dedicating home games to their contributions to culture.  

Michelle K Hanabusa

UPRISERS is a first-of-its-kind brand where fashion meets activism with community at the core. Founded by Michelle K. Hanabusa in 2016, the brand is based in LA but transmits powerful messages globally, disrupting social norms and amplifying diverse stories. UPRISERS have fuel campaigns such as #MagandangMorenx to challenge traditional beauty standards, and #HATEISAVIRUS to combat racism and xenophobia during the pandemic. This isn’t just streetwear – it’s streetwear with a purpose, a microphone for the underrepresented paving the road for progress.

SHIRA YEVIN

The future of music is female and freelance. That’s what makes GRITTY IN PINK, a community of diverse womxn creators in the music industry, so strong. Shira Yevin’s mission is equitable, and her drive is radical. From crashing Warped Tour – a male-dominated music festival – with her band Shiragirl and a pink RV, to hosting Instagram Live fundraisers during lockdown, she’s always made power moves to push progress. Now with INPINK, Shira’s ready to capitalize on the market with a network that caters to diverse womxn freelancers and elevates the entire music industry. She’s punk, she’s pink and she’s fearlessly in pursuit of change.

AN EMPOWERING ANTHEM CELEBRATING FIRST STRIDES

Johnnie Walker and partners at the National Women's Soccer League's LA-based Angel City Football Club tapped five-time Grammy Award-winning artist Brittany Howard and LA-based artist Tia P. to create "Running with the Angels," the first original anthem for a U.S. women's professional sports team and the official anthem for the ACFC team. The song is an ode to the team's trailblazing spirit, as the world's first majority women-founded, owned and operated pro-soccer team, and will serve as a celebratory anthem for the team and fans as they take the field for their first season next month.

 

STREAM & DOWNLOAD HERE