“’Crazy Rich Asians’ and ‘Black Panther’ are the two biggest movies of the year,” says Laverne Cox. “This is also the year of ‘Pose.’” Cox believes Hollywood is doing a better job at supporting and promoting diversity, but the “Orange…
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Three years after #OscarsSoWhite, the 2019 Golden Globes nominees are the most diverse Hollywood has ever seen. Three films by African-American directors were nominated for Best Picture, Sandra Oh’s “Killing Eve” performance and “Crazy Rich Asians” are breaking droughts for Asian-American films and actors, and Mexico’s cinematic titan, Alfonso Cuarón, has three nominations for his acclaimed drama “Roma.”
“I wouldn’t say the doors have opened for diversity. I’d say diversity broke the door down,” Cuarón told TheWrap shortly after the nominations were announced.
For his whole career, Cuarón has had one foot in Hollywood and the other in the Mexican filmmaking community. He’s made blockbusters like “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” and “Gravity” — the latter won him an Oscar — but he’s also made films deeply rooted in his heritage like “Y Tu Mama Tambien.” “Roma” is a film that belongs at the top of the second category, inspired by the director’s childhood and by the caretaker who looked after him and who inspires the film’s protagonist, Cleo.
Though on its face it doesn’t seem to be similar to “Crazy Rich Asians” or “Black Panther,” all three have been embraced by audiences who are now seeing themselves represented on screen at a rate that has been unprecedented in mainstream culture. For Cuarón, making “Roma” was all about introspection, examining specific elements of his childhood from an adult perspective.
But as the film made the festival circuit and goes through its limited theatrical run before hitting Netflix next week, Cuarón says he’s been surprised by how many people have told him that they have had someone like Cleo in their lives.
“It hasn’t just been Mexicans who’ve told me this. I’ve had people from many different countries and backgrounds tell me how Cleo reminds them of somebody that wasn’t in their family but took care of them as a child,” he said. “It speaks to the universality of the human experience in ways I never expected.”
Click here for TheWrap’s Oscar issue cover story on how Cuarón and lead star Yalitza Aparicio came together to film one of the most acclaimed movies of 2018. “Roma” is now playing in select theaters and will stream on Netflix on December 14.
When assessing the diversity strength of the Golden Globes this morning, look no further than Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson’s Color Force production label. It racked up eight nominations across their Warner Bros feature Crazy Rich Asians and FX …
In a record for diversity at the annual Golden Globes Awards, four of the 10 nominees in the two Best Picture categories this year have non-white directors.
Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman,” Ryan Coogler’s “Black Panther,” Barry Jenkins’ “If Beale Street Could Talk” all were recognized in the Best Picture-Drama category, while John M. Chu’s “Crazy Rich Asians” made the cut in the Best Picture – Comedy or Drama competition.
Of these, only Lee received a nomination for Best Director, where he was joined by the Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón for “Roma” — which as a foreign-language film was not eligible in the Globes’ Best Picture – Drama category.
The other directing nominees are Bradley Cooper for “A Star Is Born,” Peter Farrelly for “Green Book” and Adam McKay for “Vice.”
Last year, Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water” and Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” were both recognized in the top drama and comedy categories, respectively. Del Toro wound up winning the directing prize, though “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” and “Lady Bird” took the picture prizes.
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The Directors Guild of America will honor FX Networks with its 2019 Diversity Award — the first time in five years that the guild has selected a recipient. The DGA announced the award Thursday. It said the award is being given for the network’s c…
FX Networks will receive the Directors Guild of America’s 2019 Diversity Award, DGA president Thomas Schlamme announced on Thursday.
FX is receiving the award due to the network’s commitment to inclusive hiring in DGA-covered categories, according to the Guild. The award will be presented at the 71st annual DGA Awards on Feb. 2, 2019.
“The DGA Diversity Award is a rare honor, given only when exceptional leadership in inclusive hiring is exhibited – and today, FX embodies the spirit of this special award,” said Schlamme. “Just three short years ago, FX made a promise to transform themselves from a network that trailed behind in the area of director diversity, to one that blazed a new trail. In the time since, they’ve gone above and beyond to turn words into action. From CEO John Landgraf to all corners of the network, status quo hiring practices were overhauled into expansive searches for talented women directors and directors of color. By chipping away barriers for talent to be discovered, FX not only impacted the careers of diverse directors, they also enhanced the quality of their shows. FX is an extraordinary advocate for inclusion throughout our industry, and a shining example of how an institution can change its culture. We are very proud to recognize them with the DGA’s Diversity Award.”
In the most recent TV season, 52.6 percent of the network’s roster of directors were women and people of color.
The DGA Diversity Award has only been given out five previous times: In 1997 to Bruce Paltrow, John Wells and Christopher Chulack; in 1999 to Steven Bochco; in 2000 to HBO; in 2005 to Stephen McPherson; and in 2014 to Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers.
The recipient is selected by the Guild’s Diversity Task Force and was unanimously approved by the National Board.
The company behind such series as Atlanta, Pose, Mayans M.C. and Snowfall is set to receive the 2019 DGA Diversity Award. FX Networks will receive the honor — which has been bestowed only a handful of times in the DGA Awards’ long history &…
With an unusual air of freshness and consolidation feeling like a newfound strength, the Sundance Film Festival unveiled its 2019 program Wednesday. The festival is banking on launching more than the usual number of discoveries, with sections rangi…
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In the last four months, The Walt Disney Company has seen the exits of four prominent African-American executives, signs of rising competition in Hollywood for diverse talent in an industry long criticized as too white.
Channing Dungey, the president of ABC Entertainment, told Disney this month she would not renew her contract in 2019. Tendo Nagenda, executive vice president of production at Walt Disney Studios, left in August to be head of production at Netflix. Nne Ebong, ABC’s head of drama, also left in August without a place to land, and the network’s head of comedy, Jamila Hunter, left in October to join Kenya Barris’ Khalabo Ink Society production company.
Any one of these exits of executive talent would be noticed at a global entertainment company that has made diversity a priority in its programming and in grooming new leadership. But combined with the high-profile losses of “Black-ish” creator Barris and “Scandal” hitmaker Shonda Rhimes in 2018 — both of whom left for lucrative production deals at Netflix — the feeling is even more acute. As one concerned insider pointed out, Disney now finds itself with very nearly no executives of color in its top ranks.
Said the insider, who has knowledge of the exits: “There is a war for talent, and in this case it has decimated the ranks of diverse executives at Disney.”
In a statement, Disney chose not to address the exits themselves, but stressed its efforts to recruit inclusive talent.
“We are proud of our efforts to recruit, develop and promote a diverse group of executives, and it’s no surprise that our executives are constantly sought after by other companies looking to lure them away,” a Disney spokesperson told TheWrap. “Inclusion is a critical part of telling the best stories and being relevant, which is why we continually seek to build teams that reflect the life experiences of the audiences we serve.”
TheWrap spoke to multiple executives and industry experts about the exits, and none chose to go on the record. Those who spoke on background said that the executives did not leave because of problems at Disney, but rather because of the intense competition for talent now that diversity has become a priority for many in the industry.
As TheWrap previously reported, Dungey had been up for a promotion before Disney’s acquisition of Fox. That massive deal led to that opportunity going away for her. Despite a campaign to convince Dungey to stay and grow under a new regime, “she wants to be a free agent, she wants to test the market,” said one of the insiders interviewed by TheWrap.
More than one expert noted that Netflix seems to have targeted Disney’s executive pool as it has aggressively ramped up its own production goals.
Reached by TheWrap, Netflix declined to address the question. But an individual close to the company said Netflix is “always looking for the best talent to reach its diverse member base.”
In November of last year, Netflix hired Disney/ABC’s head of business affairs Tony Brackett to be the company’s director of business and legal affairs for kids and family programming. Brackett brought former Disney colleagues with him. Said the knowledgeable insider: “He took out all the people of color in the legal department.”
For Disney, the losses are keenly felt given the emphasis the company has placed on diversity, according to multiple insiders. Disney has been particularly proud of the inclusive hits on its ABC network, including “Black-ish” and “Fresh Off the Boat.” The global blockbuster success of “Black Panther,” the story of an African superhero, is another point of pride at the company.
The exits pose a challenge for a new regime that is arriving with Disney’s acquisition of Fox, Disney TV chairman and co-chair of Disney media networks Peter Rice and Disney TV studios and ABC Entertainment chairman Dana Walden. The insider said diversity “has not been dismantled on the air, but it has been dismantled in the executive ranks.”
Tendo Nagenda, who exited Disney to help lead production at Netflix
On the movie side, Nagenda’s hire was a major coup for Netflix and a commensurate loss for Disney, where the executive had been a rising star in his eight years at Walt Disney Pictures. Nagenda had worked on movies including “Queen of Katwe” and Ava DuVernay’s “A Wrinkle in Time.” At the time of his exit he had also been working on tentpoles including upcoming live-action versions of “Dumbo” and “Mulan.”
Like Dungey, Nagenda was a personal mentee of Disney CEO Bob Iger in the company’s prestigious executive mentoring program, giving both of their departures a more personal sting. Nagenda and Dungey individually declined to comment to TheWrap. TheWrap was unable to reach Ebong and Hunter ahead of publication.
Hollywood has been widely criticized for the overwhelming dominance of white people — especially men — in its leadership ranks. The criticism led to the #OscarsSoWhite social media campaign two years ago that referenced a lack of diversity at the Academy Awards.
Since then, the motion picture academy has made a concerted effort to increase the percentage of women and people of color among its members. And the entertainment industry as a whole has publicly placed more emphasis on fostering diversity.
But according to UCLA’s 2018 Diversity in Hollywood report, the entertainment industry has been slow to “accept … that its success in providing today’s (and tomorrow’s) audiences with what they crave also hinges on the presence of diverse talent behind the camera — in the director’s chair, in the writer’s room and in executive suites.” The report was authored by professors Darnell Hunt, Ana-Christina Ramón, Michael Tran, Amberia Sargent and Debanjan Roychoudhury.
I am a white man working in Hollywood. I grew up in Beverlywood, an all-white, predominantly Jewish, Los Angeles neighborhood sandwiched between 20th Century Fox Studios and MGM, where my elementary school had only one black student. I am compelled to …
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“Vida” writer, Tanya Saracho, was once cruelly informed by a network receptionist that she was selected for a show as “the diversity hire” — so recalled mitú president and co-founder Beatriz Acevedo at the Power Women Summit in downtown Los Angeles on Friday.
Saracho immediately approached her agent and moved onto another project within days, Acevedo said.
“I didn’t know that term existed until I talked to Tanya,” Acevedo said of “diversity hire,” a label that evokes imagery of the forced eating of vegetables, rather than something that has the potential to flourish. “The fact that there’s this quota, I know it comes from a good place in people’s hearts… but it’s not charity.”
Acevedo emphasized that diversity is “good business,” which has been reinforced at the box office and in TV Ratings time and again. The “Fast & Furious” franchise is just one example of a thriving franchise based on diverse characters. “Pose” on FX and “Empire” on Fox is another.
But Acevedo and panelists Lionsgate executive vice president Jen Hollingsworth and writer for TV series “Vida” Jenniffer Gómez were also concerned with diversity behind the camera.
Acevedo said women creatives and creatives of color tend to be invisible to Hollywood. “We alway hear about how there’s a problem in Hollywood to find us,” she said. “It’s a big problem, it’s a deep problem, but there’s some hope.”
Women and people of color gaining a seat at the decision-making table in Hollywood was one of the solutions the panelists defined. Gómez said that “Vida” is a show that has an all Latinx writing team and cast. The show also features writers and actors within the LGBTQ community.
Hollingsworth said more women-driven and representative narratives gained more popularity and made the most money within the past year. She said the Queen Latifah-led “Girls Trip” reached beyond the targeted female audience. The 2017 film, Hollingsworth said, was a well-told story that both men and women were able to laugh at.
“At Lionsgate specifically, that [female] audience is a focus for us… it’s a focus on telling female stories,” Hollingsworth said.
Another major topic at the panel was the need for mentorship to continue promoting diverse voices in Hollywood storytelling for generations to come. Hollingsworth said it was difficult for her to find a mentor that she could holistically look up to because men dominated the entertainment industry in the past.
“I think my strengths are in being a woman,” Hollingsworth said.
Additionally, Gómez said that she believes mentors have play a big part in making sure that people of color and women continue to have a seat at the table. Even if an up-and-coming woman creative of color doesn’t have the same level of professional experience as a white man — because she hasn’t been given the opportunity as easily — it’s about mentors allowing their mentees to prove themselves.
“You just need to take the risk,” Gómez said.
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