Inaugural Freeform Summit Takes on #MeToo, LGBTQ Media Portrayal

Freeform held its first summit Thursday night in Los Angeles, hosting a series of panels discussing issues that the entertainment industry is currently facing.

The four panels, titled “Millennials Are Destroying All the Industries,” “Understanding and Cultivating Love On and Off Screen,” “Exploring the Narrative Without Exploiting It” and “From Comics to Screen — Creating Marvel’s ‘Cloak and Dagger,'” were loaded with stars and executives from the network’s shows to discuss social media, female empowerment, LGBTQ portrayal and the #MeToo movement.

Amanda Lasher, executive producer of Freeform’s “The Bold Type,” said she feels the Time’s Up initiative “moves forward the conversation and makes it more about educating and opening a dialogue about how people interact in the workplace and how they interact in intimate relationships.”

“I know it’s messy and hard right now, but if you stick with it and keep trying and not be scared then we can actually get to a really great place,” Lasher said.

As for the 50/50 in 2020 goal that Time’s Up has set, with women holding half of the jobs in Hollywood in the next two years, Lasher added, “We’re hiring the best people for the job, and we make sure that when we’re looking at the pool of people that everyone is getting included in that.”

The “Exploring the Narrative Without Exploiting It” panel focused largely on the portrayal of racially diverse and LGBTQ characters in “The Bold Type” and “The Fosters,” particularly with the introduction of Aaron, a transgender male character on “The Fosters.” Peter Paige, the show’s co-creator and executive producer, and star Elliot Fletcher, who plays Aaron, discussed the controversy over the trans plot line and the support of Freeform over advertising backlash.

“[Characters Callie and Aaron] started dating and started the beginning of a sexual relationship together, and I guess that’s a big deal. It shouldn’t be, but it’s a big deal,” Paige said. Of the network, he added, “they never said it was too edgy, they have never said it was too forward thinking, they have always embraced it, encouraged it, and sometimes even pushed us.”

In response to cable lagging behind streaming services in terms of progressive shows, Paige said, “I think what’s happened in the digital space is incredible and has pushed things forward, and I think what’s coming out of cable and now it’s infiltrated even broadcast. That’s what needed to happen. I’m so grateful to be a part of this moment in entertainment when people are desperate for voices that are going to cut through the chatter.”

During the “Millennials Are Destroying All the Industries” panel, “Grown-ish” executive producer Kenya Barris surprised star Yara Shahidi with the announcement that the show has been renewed for a second season. Shahidi spoke out about being a young star in the face of social media, as well as sharing her experiences as a young woman of color. Model Karlie Kloss, star of Freeform’s “Movie Night with Karlie Kloss,” also talked about expanding her interests and career beyond modeling, and her work with the tech industry to teach more girls to code.

Freeform unveiled its new tagline “A Little Forward” at the summit as well, emphasizing its progressive shows and diversity. There was also a performance by “Grown-ish” co-stars Chloe and Halle Bailey, known collectively as Chloe x Halle.

Chloe and Halle

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