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For some of the minds behind the shows working hardest to depict African-American points-of-view today, it wasn’t diversity that now created proper representation on screen: It was different perspectives that helped lead to inclusive writers’ rooms.
On February 13, the Paley Center for Media hosted a panel discussion with African-American showrunners, executive producers, and content creators to reveal their strategies towards hiring and developing new talent. The event, “They Run The Show: African-American Creators and Producers in Conversation,” was a part of the center’s ongoing celebration of Black History Month and the latest installment in their “African-American Achievements in Television: A Black History Spotlight” series.
Thing - Showrunner - People - Power - Creator
“The ideal thing as a showrunner, for me, is to hire as many people who are different from me as possible,” “Power” creator and showrunner Courtney A. Kemp told IndieWire.
What happened when a creator failed to hire or write with that mentality became a point of discussion on the panel when “Dear White People” creator and executive producer Justin Simien brought up American filmmaker Quentin Tarantino. The white writer-director has often been called racist for his polarizing portrayal and treatment of African-American characters, as well as the frequent use of the N-word in his films, most notably in “Django Unchained,” in which it is used over 100 times.
Film - Simien - Example - Writer - Characters
“I didn’t see myself anywhere in the film,” Simien said. For him, it was a prime example of a white writer creating African-American characters based off their perception of them.
Simien, whose Netflix adaptation of his 2014 film received similar accusations of racism for its title, told IndieWire that “when you make fun of a black person, that joke actually affects the black person’s life because there are things in the institution that keep us systematically apart from white people.”
Show - Lives
He added that his show title “doesn’t affect the lives of white...
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