Recent Departures of Top Diversity Executives Raise Concerns about The Industry’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
In what’s fast becoming a trend for the entertainment industry, three prominent studios and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have recently bid farewell to their top diversity executives.
The departures have sparked a growing perception that the industry may be placing the vital principles of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) on the back burner.
The push for diversity, which gained significant momentum following the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, now appears to have lost most of its steam after just three years. The events have raised questions about the true intentions behind these diversity-focused roles.
Actress Yvette Nicole Brown, known for her role in “A Black Lady Sketch Show,” expressed her disappointment on Twitter, suggesting that the symbolic black squares posted on social media after the tragic murder of George Floyd in 2020 may have been empty gestures
“I guess all those black boxes after George Floyd was murdered were for nothing,” she stated.
The exodus of diversity executives includes the departure of Disney’s chief diversity officer and senior vice president, Latondra Newton. A veteran of six years at the company, Newton left on June 20 to pursue “other endeavors.”
Her exit reportedly was celebrated by a faction of individuals who criticized her for her involvement in the casting of Black actress and singer Halle Bailey as the lead in “The Little Mermaid.”
Netflix’s head of inclusion strategy, Vernā Myers, was the next to announce her departure, set for September. Myers, who had held the position for five years, pioneered the role at Netflix.
While stepping down, Myers said she would continue to advise the streaming giant while directing her attention to her consulting company, The Vernā Myers Company.
Additionally, Discovery removed Karen Horne from her position as SVP of diversity, equity, and inclusion. The departure of Horne, who joined the company in March 2020, coincided with the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Affirmative Action in education.
Simultaneously, the Academy bid farewell to Jeanell English, its EVP of Impact and Inclusion. Academy CEO Bill Kramer created English’s role in July 2022.
With those departures, concern has grown regarding the long-term commitment of major studios and industry organizations to prioritize DEI initiatives.
“While the real reasons behind these departures may vary, the entertainment industry must reaffirm its dedication to fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion to ensure lasting progress and representation on and off the screen,” said Jan Krukow, a District of Columbia-based advertising executive.
Stacy M. Brown is the NNPA Newswire senior national correspondent.