Legislators denounce mass exodus of Black entertainment executives from major companies

Legislators from the California Legislative Black Caucus have requested a meeting with movie studios to discuss the recent abrupt dismissal of Black female executives.

Legislators from the California Legislative Black Caucus are not happy about the widespread departure of Black entertainment executives from major companies.

According to Variety, they’re requesting a meeting with movie studios to discuss the recent abrupt dismissal of Black female leaders, five women in particular. 

LaTondra Newton of Disney, Verna Myers of Netflix, Jeanell English of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and Karen Horne and Terra Potts, both of Warner Bros. Discovery, have all departed senior leadership roles, raising concerns about the film and television industry’s commitment to diversifying its top ranks.

Black women executives leaving Hollywood -- vLaTondra Newton (Disney)
LaTondra Newton, who was with Disney, is one of several Black women executives who have departed Hollywood positions in recent weeks, raising concerns in the California Legislative Black Caucus. (Photo: Business Wire via AP)

There are very few Black executives in the C-suite across the industry. They include Nicole Brown, president of TriStar Pictures; Channing Dungey, chair and CEO of WBTV; and Pearlena Igbokwe, chair of Universal Studio Group, a division of NBC News’ parent company, NBCUniversal.

Industry insiders claim more executives of color are anticipated to join them in the coming weeks, particularly in the wake of the SAG-AFTRA strike that started July 13, more than two months after the writers’ strike began.

Following the state legislature’s approval of the $1.6 billion film tax credit program to give tax incentives for movie studios, the Black Caucus convened a news conference on Thursday to discuss the executives’ resignations and removals.

“One executive removal could be a fluke,” state Sen. Lola Smallwood-Cuevas said during the press conference, according to Variety. “But four more? And we’re hearing more are to come. This is a troubling pattern. A pattern that suggests diversity, equity and inclusion is no longer a priority at the highest levels of the film industry, where decisions are made and institutional change happens.”

State Sen. David Min, vice chair of the Asian and Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, expressed his support for his colleagues in the CLBC, denouncing the recent firings of African-American executives in the entertainment sector, Variety reported.

“At a time when too many marginalized communities are feeling under attack in our country,” Min said, “Hollywood is sending the wrong message — that responding to craven political attacks is more important than fairness or actual results.”

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