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Kenya Barris praised Netflix for its vow to move production out of Georgia should the state’s anti-abortion bill take effect.
“One of the things I am really proud about with Netflix is they are picking up and engaging,” he said Thursday at Cannes Lions about brand activism. “I think that is an example of corporations taking responsibility.”
The Black-ish creator signed a $100 million deal with the streamer last August. “I’ve become part of the family,” he said. “If it’s something you feel really strongly about and feel like it’s going to affect people, it’s the way we can activate in this community and make changes.”
He continued: “We have these corporations where margins are so close and they are looking to cut corners, and so when you see people like Disney and Netflix stepping up and saying, ‘This goes against what we believe our company ethos is. We are willing to stand behind that and back out,’ I hope others will follow.”
Georgia’s “heartbeat bill” was signed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in May, and Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said his company will help the ACLU fight the controversial law and “rethink its whole investment in Georgia” if the law goes into effect in January.
Barris said the company needs to stand by its statement going forward.
“You can’t just say, ‘I’m gonna stay because of the money,’ or ‘Oh, I’m gonna do this,’ and then say there’s a whole other side of your company,” he asserted. “We are at a place right now where you have to stand firmly.” Barris also praised Nike’s work with ex-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, saying they are on the right side of history.
Barris added that Gen Z is a politically aware and active generation, though he worries that much of its activism is conducted on social media and may not have the same impact as past movements: “Some of it seems to be performative and some of it leans into ‘Oh, I got so many people to tweet.’ But my grandparents and parents put foot to ground … this is how real change happens.”
Barris also said that filming using brand integration opportunities helped his show financially, adding: “We’re the only show that has never been over budget — we actually came in $1 million under budget, which was unheard of.”
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