‘Project Greenlight’s Effie Brown on Matt Damon Diversity Flap: ‘We Shut That Bullsh-t Down’

Sundance 2016: Producer says silence was key during conflict with movie star

Effie Brown Sundance

Producer and accidental television star Effie Brown opened up about her onscreen conflict with Matt Damon on HBO’s “Project Greenlight,” saying she was encouraged to stay silent during the controversy — and it paid off.

Appearing in Park City, Utah, Monday as a keynote speaker for the Women at Sundance Brunch, Brown reflected on her flap with “Greenlight” producer Damon over hiring people of color for the film production at the center of the reality series. Many found Damon’s remarks about diverse hires patronizing and insensitive.

“That show exposed systemic exclusion of Hollywood in a real mainstream way, on a Sunday night, you got to see it. That show was riddled with this,” Brown said.

“That viral video that went out has forever changed my life. I only did a few interviews then. All of them were print, I was told to simmer down because I couldn’t take on a cherished Hollywood celebrity,” she said. “They said, ‘Let other people talk for you.’ And you know what? That was a smart decision, because women and people of color — and God bless you, some of you men too — came out in full force and shut that bullshit down.”

The room exploded with applause for Brown, who is now a VP of production and development at Lee Daniels‘ Fox-based production company. There she’ll oversee a fund to recruit diverse storytellers and below-the-line talent for film and TV.

Brown put a challenge on supporters in the room, reminding them to push for action when it comes to hiring policies.

“It is my personal belief that, by not doing one of these three things, we are by standing — we are cosigning on this system that we say we want to change. Those three things are hire, mentor and invest,” she said.