With its recent efforts to focus on diverse and female-led casts, crews and storytelling, Starz on Wednesday announced its #TaketheLead initiative, an effort to deepen “the company’s existing commitment to narratives by, about and for women and underrepresented audiences.”
According to a study conducted in partnership with UCLA’s Center for Scholars and Storytellers, 75% of the network’s executive team is female and 50% of that team includes people of color. More than half of the showrunners on Starz shows are female and 45.5% are people of color, while more than 63% of Starz series leads are people of color, the study found. In addition, nearly 30% of the writers on Starz-produced series are of color, as are nearly 50% of Starz’ directors. Nearly 44% of directors on Starz’ series are women.
“At Starz, #TakeTheLead is our continued commitment to narratives by, about and for women and underrepresented audiences,” said President and CEO Jeffrey Hirsch 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.”
Starz offers such original series as the Power universe, American Gods, P-Valley, Outlander and The Spanish Queen, along with upcoming series Run the World, Blindspotting, Black Mafia Family, Shining Vale, Serpent Queen and more. The UCLA study looked at Starz’ scripted original series that aired or will air between January 2020 through December 2021, as well as series in production as of February 2021, and found that Starz scores above industry averages.
The #TaketheLead effort also includes a series of “Transparency Talks” starting in April that will include conversations on diversity, inclusion and equity with such experts as Melissa Goodman, director of advocacy at the ACLU of Southern California; Dan Halperin and Lisa Kors, former co-chairs of the PGA’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee; Colleen Bell, executive director of the California Film Commission and former United States Ambassador to Hungary; Jamia Wilson, executive editor and vice president at Random House and Former Executive Director and Publisher, Feminist Press; Madelyn Hammond, president Madelyn Hammond & Associates; Yalda Uhls, founder of The Center for Scholars & Storytellers at UCLA, and more.