Why Black List Founder Franklin Leonard Is Over Inclusivity Panels

The Black List founder Franklin Leonard let it be known (via an April 23 tweet) that he’s ready to throw in the towel when it comes to speaking on diversity panels, preferring to focus his time on other topics or the actual work he does leading the screenwriter-focused site.

“I have other areas of expertise,” Leonard tweeted. “Rest assured, I will bring up diversity in that context too though. Think of it as a two for one deal, but I’m choosing which one and if that means I’m never invited to speak publicly again, so be it.”

Asked to elaborate on his decision by Rambling Reporter at THR’s Empowerment in Entertainment event April 30, Leonard (singled out as being one of THR’s inaugural Agents of Change in the issue) explained that there may be rare exceptions, but he’s done. “I, and everybody, who happen to be a member of a non-dominant community have a lot more to offer. I can talk about screenwriting, entrepreneurship.”

Leonard, who was praised as “one of the greatest gifts” to Hollywood by Fast Color filmmaker Julia Hart during a recent post-screening Q&A, said he doesn’t see the point in hammering the conversation home alongside others who share his viewpoint. “Unless those conversations are with people who somehow reject it or are willing to engage in how we are actually going to advance it then I don’t see much value in them.” 

A version of this story appears in the May 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.