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Despite the inequities that have historically pervaded corporate America, Black thought leaders have tapped into the power of innovation to elevate global brands, however, their contributions have often gone overlooked. Award-winning filmmakers Stanley Nelson and Jacqueline Olive are directing a documentary that will magnify the unsung story behind Pepsi’s first all-Black sales team, Deadline reported.

The project—titled The Color of Cola—will capture how the collective of professionals navigated the corporate landscape. The group—which was the first entirely Black sales team at a major corporation—was tasked with reaching African American consumers amid the Jim Crow era. With a mission rooted in ensuring advertisements visually depicted authentic portrayals of Black culture, the team was dedicated to bringing a sense of humanity and dignity to advertising. The industry often stamped disparaging iconography of Black men and women on products. The team’s contributions significantly increased the beverage brand’s earnings and market share; exemplifying the power of representation and diversity within the boardroom.

The film is based on the 2008 book penned by author Stephanie Capparell dubbed The Real Pepsi Challenge: How One Pioneering Company Broke Color Barriers in 1940s American Business.

“With The Color of Cola, I look forward to telling the story of the first Black sales team established in the corporate world. This project harkens back to my very first feature film Two Dollars and a Dream, about the amazing life of Madam C.J. Walker, America’s first self-made Black woman millionaire,” Nelson shared in a statement, according to the news outlet. “I was able to touch on Madam Walker’s story again, among other stories of Black entrepreneurship, in a more recent film of mine–Boss: The Black Experience in Business. I see The Color of Cola as a continuation of my past work highlighting the achievements of groundbreaking Black business leaders, whose stories are still underrepresented and often underappreciated in the context of American history.”

The documentary—which is being co-created under Pepsi’s content studio and the Los Angeles Media Fund—will be executive produced by Viola Davis and Julius Tennon. There is no word on when the film is slated to be released.

News about the project comes after Nelson received the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in a Documentary for his critically-acclaimed film Attica.


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