How to publish DEI in Hollywood


As protests against racial violence and police brutality erupted across the country in 2020, American businesses responded with an unparalleled wave of financial giving and commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. Almost every industry has been forced to consider diversity issues. And for the first time, the business leader seemed ready to take steps towards lasting change, not just lip service.

But two years later, some of these initiatives have faded or are proving to be more complex than business leaders had hoped. “People want this to be resolved quickly,” Orion Pictures president Alana Mayo said during a panel discussion at the Fast Company Innovation Festival on Tuesday. “They wished they had some training and seminars in addition to hiring DEI, but it worked out. [systemic racism]’ said Mayo. “And I hope everyone in this room knows, but they don’t.”

From left: Ebro DardenGlobal Editor-in-Chief of Hip-Hop and R&B at Apple Music. Alana Mayo, President, Orion Films.When Tracy SherrodVice President and Editor-in-Chief, Little, Brown and Company [Photo: Celine Grouard for Fast Company]

In Hollywood, she says the race riots after the murder of George Floyd raised awareness, especially regarding how the industry shaped public perceptions of police and violence against black people through on-screen portrayals. Increased investment in diverse filmmakers and decision makers. Mayo herself was recruited to direct her Orion Pictures, a division of MGM. Orion Pictures, the studio’s 2020 reopening, focuses on underrated voices and stories. “The level of representation and the number of people given dollars (which is really the most important measure). [getting funded] When I first moved to LA 16 years ago, it was also phenomenal,” she said.

But when it comes to reforming an industry with a long history of homogenization, there are no easy solutions. And some of the actions companies and executives took in 2020 were, in hindsight, short-term solutions to broader, systemic problems.

For example, the publishing industry has tried to diversify its position by recruiting new talent into the field, which some believe is not the right approach to fostering a pipeline of talent.

[Photo: Celine Grouard for Fast Company]

“Editorially, [publishing is] Tracy Sherrod, executive editor and vice president of Little, Brown and Company, joined Mayo and Apple Music’s Ebro Darden for a panel discussion. “Because you need the skill to persuade someone to give you a million dollars. You need the skill to know how to produce a book. You need the skill to know how to edit a book.”

At the same time, many white editors were tasked with editing more books by underrated authors. Some of them received huge advances that they could not earn. Sherrod said white editors tend to overestimate how well those books will sell and whether white readers will pick them up.

That optimism may have stemmed from the reader’s lack of understanding of books by underrated authors. “I don’t see black books on their shelves,” Sherrod said. “I think their view is one of optimism. You have to pay the price.”

[Photo: Celine Grouard for Fast Company]

Darden agreed that DEI efforts in the workplace do not exist in isolation. “We have to be honest about our colleagues and they have to come home to a very homogeneous community,” he said. I hope to become a conscious and inclusive person.”

On the other hand, he noted that addressing diversity issues in the workplace can also affect how people spend the rest of their lives. “You are learning about various holidays that your child’s school doesn’t teach. [but] I went to a PTA meeting and said, “Hey, we were learning about Juneteenth at work this year, but we don’t do that at school. Why?”

“You come to work and wear a charade because you have to. Inclusion and diversity are trend,“He added, “But if you really want a solution, why not do this at home?”