In a surprise move, Netflix vice president of original content Cindy Holland is exiting the company after 18 years as chief content officer Ted Sarandos, who recently stepped into the role of co-CEO, has moved to simplify the structure of the content team. In its new streamlined form, well-regarded executive Bela Bajaria is being elevated to vice president of global TV.
“Since becoming co-CEO, I’ve wanted to simplify the way our content teams operate – with one global film team led by Scott Stuber and one for TV, which will now be led by Bela Bajaria,” said Sarandos in a statement.
Bajaria, who most recently served as VP of local language originals, oversees the creation of Netflix’s vast array of local-language original content in Europe, the Middle East, Turkey, Africa, India, Asia and Latin America — a critical part of Netflix’s quest for further growth. Now she will be charged with both English and local language original series, including scripted, unscripted and limited series.
Cutting her teeth on movies, miniseries and cable programming at CBS for a decade and a half, Bajaria shifted to Universal Television in 2011, where she ultimately became president of the studio. She joined Netflix in 2016, after working with Sarandos and Holland on bringing Universal TV’s “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and “Master of None” to the streaming platform. Bajaria began her tenure at Netflix in unscripted before shifting her focus to local language orignals.
Bajaria has “demonstrated her versatility and creativity – building out our unscripted team and helping to take our local language slate, which is increasingly important for our members, to the next level,” said Sarandos. “I can’t wait to see what Bela and the TV team achieve in the years to come.”
Holland’s exit comes after nearly two decades with Netflix, when it was still a DVD-by-mail company. She was key in the company’s assertive move to gain a foothold in original content, starting with “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black” in its initial originals slate in 2013 and moving on to “Stranger Things, “The Crown,” “Ozark,” “Narcos,” and building out documentary programming with “Making a Murderer.”
“It has been a real joy to lead the original series team for the last eight years,” said Holland. “From transitioning the company out of DVDs into streaming, to launching our first slate of original series and documentaries, I’ve loved every moment. I am proud of the impact and the diversity of the stories we’ve brought to audiences around the world, and to have worked with some of the most inspiring creators and executives in our business.”
Holland, a Stanford grad and former competitive water skier, was Sarandos’ first hire in L.A. in 2002. There, they worked out of a small office in Raleigh Studios, desks facing opposing walls, when Netflix was still a feisty little startup looking to break into Hollywood.
Holland will leave in October.
Said Sarandos of the decision: “These kinds of changes are never easy, and I am enormously grateful to Cindy Holland for everything she has done over the last 18 years at Netflix – first licensing DVDs and then as the driving force behind our first eight years of English original series. Cindy’s been a great champion of creators and the power that comes from seeing more perspectives reflected on screen – launching enduring dramas like ‘Orange is the New Black,’ ‘Stranger Things’ and ‘The Crown.’ Most important of all she’s been a fabulous colleague. We wish her all the best for the future.”
Pictured: Cindy Holland, left, and Bela Bajaria.