Just ahead of the 2018 fall television season, a new inclusion initiative has launched on social media.
Entitled #ShowUsYourRoom, the initiative encourages showrunners and writers to post photos of their rooms on Twitter and Instagram, to show “who is actually walking the walk” when it comes to inclusive hiring.
“This is a time where everyone is talking about diversity and inclusion,” Amanda Idoko, a writer on the animated series “Central Park” and founder of the initiative, tells Variety exclusively. “Everyone’s saying they’re promoting diversity and inclusion, but every year the numbers are the same. People are saying they want diversity and inclusion but not actually fighting for it.”
Idoko, who is organizing the initiative in conjunction with an unofficial subcommittee of the WGA Committee of Black Writers that Ron McCants started, says she was first inspired to take action after seeing the 2017 Hollywood Diversity Report. The report looked at 168 theatrical films and more than 1200 television shows to determine the progress, or lack thereof, of minorities both in front of and behind the camera. It determined that behind-the-scenes, inclusive representation had gone stagnant or taken slight dips in key areas such as creators of cable and streaming series, credited writers of cable series and lead actors on cable series.
“Things aren’t changing because all of these studies and statistics are anonymous. Simply classifying lack of diversity as an industry-wide problem takes away personal accountability and personal incentive for people to actually stand up and fix the problem,” she says.
Idoko began reaching out to a wide variety of writers’ rooms — ones that were publicly diverse, such as Starz’ “Vida,” which featured an all-Latinx room in its first season, as well as ones that may not be. She admits that she did encounter some people who were “nervous” about it, but she hopes even those with all-white rooms will share their photos. CBS’ “SWAT” was the first to follow Idoko’s own post on Twitter. The “Suits” spinoff and “Empire” writers’ rooms joined in quickly.
“Those are the rooms we want to participate,” she says. “If … you find yourself in the position that you’re in an all-white room, that should be a wake-up call for you. … If you are scared to show a picture of your room, I think that’s a problem. So if people have a moment of, ‘Oh I would be embarrassed to post a picture of my room,’ maybe [they] should make some changes.”
In order to make those changes, Idoko says it is just as simple as not “waiting for a stack of scripts to land on your desk” but to “actively look for these voices.”
“You can go to any writer of color or any woman and say, ‘Hey, can you recommend a writer to me?’ I can 100% guarantee you they will have a list,” she suggests.
In fact, it is that conversation that Idoko hopes this initiative starts — within writers’ room, as well as other parts of the industry, and other industries in the country.
“I don’t think this is only a problem with writers’ rooms,” she says. “My hope is that agencies and studios post pictures of their rooms because that is where decisions are made, but also … let’s have hospital boards and law firms and corporations — let’s see what all of these rooms look like because the room where it happens should be diverse. … I feel like the public has a right to know what all of these places look like and if they look like the way the world does.”