Diversity and representation in Hollywood, both in front of and behind the camera, has been a huge topic of conversation the past few years. From #OscarsSoWhite to various allegations of whitewashing in the industry, there has been a call for these perceived injustices to be remedied, most notably by Frances McDormand in her Oscar acceptance speech calling for inclusion riders. Now we are seeing a concrete realization of that movement. Michael B. Jordan and Warner Bros. are partnering to launch an inclusion and diversity policy.
As reported by the Los Angeles Times, the new initiative is intended to increase diversity and inclusion on both sides of the camera. The policy is the product of a partnership between WarnerMedia and actor Michael B. Jordan. Although the policy does not include specifics and is more of a statement of goals, it will strive to provide more opportunities to people of color, women, members of LGBTQ communities, those with disabilities and other underrepresented groups, both onscreen and in other production capacities. The new policy will apply to all productions moving forward, starting with Just Mercy, which Michael B. Jordan is an executive producer on and stars him, Brie Larson and Jamie Foxx. The policy is not just for Warner Bros. the studio either. It applies to everything under the WarnerMedia (formerly Time Warner) banner, including HBO and Turner.
Killmonger may have failed, going about correcting past injustices in the wrong way, but Michael B. Jordan is aiming to make a difference and give people a chance in a positive way. In a statement, Michael B. Jordan spoke about the importance of inclusion and how Frances McDormand’s Oscars speech inspired him that there were mechanisms to achieve such change. It doesn’t sound like this is just an idealistic goal made for good PR either. WarnerMedia intends to create plans early in the production process on its projects to ensure that this commitment to diversity and inclusion is being met. And as a measure of transparency, WarnerMedia will issue an annual report on this policy’s progress.
This is obviously a huge move for a massive entertainment conglomerate that will affect film and television moving forward. It is kind of silly that the industry has been so bad about diversity and inclusion historically that something like this was needed, but it definitely reflects well on Warner Bros. and it will be interesting to see the products of this policy. The past couple of years have made such a move begin to look less like an easy way to get good press and more like a smart business move. The market has spoken and films like Black Panther and Warner Bros.’ own Crazy Rich Asians have made it abundantly clear that movies featuring historically underrepresented groups can be extremely lucrative.