Warner Bros. backtracks on diversity program cuts, keeps them alive

The Writers and Directors Workshops, which were created to promote diverse talent in TV, will no longer end in April with the 2022–23 class.

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It looks like Warner Bros. Discovery will continue to foster and support Black voices and those of other under-represented groups following harsh criticism from in the entertainment industry.

According to Deadline, the company has reconsidered cutting its Writers and Directors workshops, the two initiatives praised for including diverse voices in the television industry. They were ending amid rolling layoffs at Warner Bros.

WBD’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion unit, in collaboration with WBTV, will now host the workshops.

Warner Bros. Tower
The Warner Brothers water tower is lit up in blue in April 2020 in Burbank, California. Warner Bros. Discovery has reversed itself and will no longer be slashing its Writers and Directors Workshops, which foster and promotes diverse voices in television. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

“By continuing this successful WBTV initiative through the DEI division, we ensure that Warner Bros Discovery’s continued commitment to training and development continues,” said Asif Sadiq, WBD’s chief global diversity, equity and inclusion officer, Deadline reported. “Additionally, this is a strong example of how DEI plans to leverage our recently announced Creative Council to best align with our internal partners in maintaining our commitment to infuse our pipeline with diverse storytellers.”

The Directors Guild of America vowed to contest the program’s closure, saying it would not stand by and watch WBD attempt to “roll back decades of advancement for women and directors of color.” It expressed its pleasure with the company’s swift retraction.

“The proof will be in how the new program structure effectively addresses directorial diversity, equity, and inclusion,” the DGA said, Deadline reported. “We will be watching closely to ensure they follow through with their commitment.”

Warner Bros. has emphasized that the programs were one way that it was promoting diverse approaches in the television industry, especially after George Floyd’s 2020 murder raised calls for greater inclusion, theGrio previously reported. It would’ve concluded in April with the 2022–23 writers’ class.

The workshops are now under the direction of Karen Horne, WBD’s new DEI U.S. lead and DEI Vice President Grace Moss, according to Deadline.

“Including the Writers and Directors Workshop within the scope of our current DEI pipeline programs, which include development opportunities for music supervisors, comedic voices and showrunners among others, will allow for a broader and more intense DEI focus and yield an even larger pool of cohorts to benefit from the experience and exposure we provide,” said Horne, according to Deadline.

Notable alums of the writers and directors’ workshops include actress Regina King (directing), “Lovecraft Country” co-executive producers Jonathan I. Kidd & Sonya Winton-Odamtten and “House of the Dragon” writer and co-executive producer Charmaine DeGraté.

“We are encouraged by this chance to house this long-standing WBTV effort to impact the industry with emerging talent within the DEI team,” Horne added, Deadline reported.

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