‘3%’ leaves a lasting legacy of inclusion behind the scenes

Tiago Mello

3% executive producer and Boutique Films owner

‘3%’ leaves a lasting legacy of inclusion behind the scenes

Tiago Mello

3% executive producer and Boutique Films owner

Back in 2018, I visited the Instituto Crie, a local non-profit organization that teaches underprivileged students about filmmaking, to select the first group of participants to come to the set of 3%. They were part of Boost the Base, a program created by Netflix that teaches and prepares young people from peripheral communities for entry-level production positions.

Brazilians don’t often get to see ourselves on screen and I was excited to help change that. However, I remember second-guessing myself: "I’m doing a series that criticizes the selection process and here I am selecting people?" So instead, I hired everyone. There was a lot of excitement, and even a few tears.

That spirit of inclusivity has been a driving force since 3% launched in 2016. It marked Netflix’s first Brazilian original series and the debut series from first-time showrunner Pedro Aguilera. But we wanted to amplify other new voices too. So in seasons three and four, we were able to sponsor two local Netflix initiatives so that 3% could serve as a training ground for other up-and-coming filmmakers and crew members.

Executive producer Tiago Mello, left, on the set of 3%.

As part of the Boost the Base program for seasons three and four, we trained and employed nearly 30 young people, primarily from the Black, female and LGBTQ+ communities across several departments including art, production, and makeup and wardrobe.

This included Jacqueline Viana, who worked on 3% as a makeup artist and hairdresser. For Jacqueline, she said she felt “fulfilled” getting to tap into her experience styling Black hair on set with the show’s Black cast members. For the production, it was a huge benefit to have someone with this expertise on set. It showed on screen. 

For the fourth and final season of 3%, which premiered on Aug. 14, we also helped pilot the Shadowing program. This initiative allows promising Black female directors on set to observe production and prepare them for work on other series. 

A recent graduate of the Instituto Criar, Jéssica Queiroz was able to shadow three different directors over a four-month period. An editor hoping to move into directing, Jéssica was able to learn first-hand about special effects, post-production and casting. 

Recruiting these young voices from outside the normal channels was a rewarding and emotional process for those of us who worked on the show. Having trainees from many different backgrounds helped expand my worldview as a producer and as an artist-- I learned at least as much from them than they learned from me.

That’s also why it’s been so gratifying to see participants from these programs, such as Jéssica, advance in their careers. After 3%, she directed the series Fim de Comédia from CineBrasil TV, and has received proposals to direct episodes of other shows. She’s also been invited by two production companies to start developing other series. “Shadowing guaranteed me the opportunity to at least have the opportunity to be part of the hiring process for places that I wouldn’t be able to access,” she said. “It allowed me to have access to a closed market.”

The premise of 3% has always been about creating more equality in Brazil, so it’s powerful that we were able to do similar work behind the scenes. The series may be wrapped, but it stays on Netflix for future fans to enjoy. And our efforts to create a more diverse and inclusive network in Brazil will hopefully also have a lasting impact.