WarnerMedia aims to make a statement to the entertainment industry by unveiling a broad diversity and inclusion policy to be implemented across all productions that hail from Warner Bros., HBO, and Turner.
The goal is to ensure that all creative endeavors under the WarnerMedia roof go the extra mile to consider diversity and inclusion goals when staffing for positions in front of and behind the camera. WarnerMedia has pledged to issue an annual report examining the diversity stats for all of its productions in an effort to establish benchmarks to measure future progress.
The initiative is going public just as production begins this week in Atlanta on the Michael B. Jordan-Brie Larson legal drama “Just Mercy.” WarnerMedia credited Jordan, who is an exec producer of the film, and Jordan’s WME agent Phillip Sun for helping to craft the policy.
“WarnerMedia pledges to use our best efforts to ensure that diverse actors and crew members are considered for film, television and other projects, and to work with directors and producers who also seek to promote greater diversity and inclusion in our industry,” according to the policy statement released Wednesday by WarnerMedia. “To that end, in the early stages of the production process, we will engage with our writers, producers and directors to create a plan for implementing this commitment to diversity and inclusion on our projects, with the goal of providing opportunities for individuals from under-represented groups at all levels.”
Jordan said he was inspired by Frances McDormand’s impassioned speech at this year’s Oscar telecast in which she called on industry movers and shakers to demand inclusion riders as part of their deals to help open doors for persons of color and women.
“The WarnerMedia family has introduced an approach that accomplishes our shared objectives, and I applaud them for taking this enormous step forward,” Jordan said. “I’m proud that our film, ‘Just Mercy,’ will be the first to formally represent the future we have been working toward, together. This is a legacy-bearing moment.”
The initiative is a priority for new WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey. It’s meant to be a sign of AT&T’s commitment to be a good steward of the Hollywood assets it acquired after completing its hard-fought $85.4 billion merger with Time Warner in June.
“The core values of the WarnerMedia companies are built on doing innovative work in a manner that respects our creative partners, their aspirations and their individuality,” said Stankey. “I am proud of the progress that the leaders of our businesses have made, and we believe this is the next logical step to improve our content and cement our leadership in contributing to positive change in the industry.”
As a prolific producer of movies, TV shows and other content, Warner Bros. will be a prime focus for implementing the new policy. The studio already has a range of diversity-related programs including its longstanding talent, writing and directing workshops to its partnerships with the Los Angeles Unified School District on the Story Lab and First Cut writing and filmmaking courses.
The studio at present is riding high on the success of its summer comedy “Crazy Rich Asians,” which has been hailed as a groundbreaking movie representing Asian-American inclusion in mainstream American culture.
“I’m proud that Warner Bros., and our sister companies HBO and Turner, are willing to state unequivocally that this is where we stand on diversity and inclusion. Our policy commits us to taking concrete action to further our goals, to measure the outcomes and to share the results publicly,” said Warner Bros. chairman-CEO Kevin Tsujihara. “I’m also thrilled that we were able to work with Michael B. Jordan to craft a meaningful policy and framework that will apply to all of our productions, across all of our divisions, going forward.”
Here is WarnerMedia’s diversity and inclusion statement in full:
WarnerMedia companies, Warner Bros., HBO and Turner, have long been committed to diversity and inclusion as moral and business imperatives. It is essential that our content and creative partners reflect the diversity of our society and the world around us. Together with other production companies, networks, guilds, unions, talent agencies and others in the industry, we all must ensure there is greater inclusion of women, people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, those with disabilities and other underrepresented groups in greater numbers both in front of and behind the camera.
For our part, WarnerMedia pledges to use our best efforts to ensure that diverse actors and crew members are considered for film, television and other projects, and to work with directors and producers who also seek to promote greater diversity and inclusion in our industry. To that end, in the early stages of the production process, we will engage with our writers, producers and directors to create a plan for implementing this commitment to diversity and inclusion on our projects, with the goal of providing opportunities for individuals from under-represented groups at all levels. And, we will issue an annual report on our progress.
The companies of WarnerMedia have a historic and proven commitment to diversity and inclusion. But there is much more we can do, and we believe real progress can be made in the industry. We will work with our partners in the entertainment community to make this commitment a reality.
(Pictured: Michael B. Jordan)