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Warner Bros & HBO Are Setting A New Precedent

Warner Bros. and its sister companies have announced a company-wide commitment to diversity and inclusion, which will make them the first major entertainment company to do so.

WarnerMedia–which includes Warner Bros., HBO and Turner–said on Wednesday that it is pledging to use its “best efforts” to ensure that diverse actors and crews are considered for film and television projects at all stages of the production process going forward, and to also work with directors and producers that share similar goals.

The first production to fall under the aforementioned policy will be the Michael B. Jordan film Just Mercy, which begins shooting this week. Jordan was an early advocate of inclusion riders at his production company, Outlier Society, and actually helped to craft the framework for WarnerMedia.

“Inclusivity has always been a no-brainer for me, especially as a black man in this business. It wasn’t until Frances McDormand spoke the two words that set the industry on fire — inclusion rider — that I realized we could standardize this practice,” Michael said in a statement. “The WarnerMedia family has introduced an approach that accomplishes our shared objectives, and I applaud them for taking this enormous step forward.”

The company will now work with other production companies, networks, guilds, unions, talent agencies to consider people from underrepresented groups for jobs in front of and behind the camera. The policy specifically mentions women, people of color, the LGBTQ community and those with disabilities, and the company will also issue an annual report on its progress.

“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 and CEO Kevin Tsujihara in a statement.

Major studios, for the most part, have been quiet about inclusion riders since  Frances McDormand introduced the world to the concept in her Oscars speech. For example, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said earlier this year that his company was trying to do things creatively and not just through agreements.

While the WarnerMedia policy is not the same as an inclusion rider–stopping short of hiring requirements–it is a landmark step in an industry that has been under scrutiny for its lack of diversity at all levels.

WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey said, “This is the next logical step to improve our content and cement our leadership in contributing to positive change in the industry.”


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