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Starz has taken a multipronged approach to its commitment to brand itself as a purveyor of storytelling by and about women and underrepresented people.
The premium cabler is launching its #TakeTheLead initiative, which begins with revealing the results of a study it commissioned UCLA’s Center for Scholars & Storytellers to conduct. Analyzing all Starz scripted original series that aired or will air from January 2020 through December 2021 (and including shows in production as of this month), the CSS study found that Starz’s slate hit above industry averages in several categories, including:
- Series leads: 63.2 percent people of color (27.7 percent industry average), 57.9 percent women (45.17 percent industry average)
- Showrunners: 45.5 percent POC (123.8 percent above industry average), 54.6 percent women (28.1 percent industry average)
- Writers: 53.8 percent POC (35 percent industry average), 54.70 percent women (44 percent industry average), 29.1 percent women of color (12.63 percent industry average)
- Directors: 49.3 percent POC (21.8 percent industry average), 43.7 percent women (30 percent industry average), 18.31 percent WOC (7.13 percent industry average)
The study also examined the network’s leadership team, finding that among everyone at the senior vice president level and above, 30.8 percent are people of color and 47.22 percent are women. The network actually gets more diverse when it comes to president and CEO Jeffrey Hirsch’s direct reports: Half of them are women of color, with women overall comprising 75 percent of Starz’s top executives.
“#TakeTheLead is our continued commitment to narratives by, about and for women and underrepresented audiences,” Hirsch said in a statement. “The multi-faceted approach to improving representation serves as our guiding principle across our business from programming choices to hiring decisions… . While it is valuable to evaluate how we are measuring up against our directive, it’s even more important to identify opportunities where we can continue to further progress on our mission.”
As such, Starz will host a series of conversations with thought leaders at the intersection of inclusion and entertainment, including ACLU of Southern California director of advocacy Melissa Goodman, PGA Diversity & Inclusion committee former co-chairs Dan Halperin and Lisa Kors, California Film Commission executive director Colleen Bell, Random House executive editor and vp (and former Feminist Press executive director and publisher) Jamia Wilson, entertainment marketing specialist Madelyn Hammond and CSS founder Yalda Uhls. The Transparency Talks will begin in April and culminate in the first-ever Starz Summit to celebrate the network’s continued commitment to creative diversity.
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