J.J. Abrams is not the only one who wants more variety in Hollywood, both in front of the camera and behind the camera. But his production company, Bad Robot, is actually able to do something about it and has introduced a new policy to systematically bring about change.
The author, producer and director – known for his work on films such as the latest Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Super 8 and several films in the Mission: Impossible series as well as TV shows such as Lost and the new mini-series 11/22/63 – explained his company’s plans to demand diversity in projects from the very beginning.
“The Oscar issue was symptomatic of a problem; it wasn’t the problem,” Abrams said Tuesday at the New York Times conference on the New Work Summit in Half Moon Bay, California, where he was interviewed by Times reporter Charles Duhigg. “The Oscars are the last stop on the train. The first stop is what is made.”
From now on, Bad Robot will require project lists – of authors, directors, actors and others in the industry – to be “at least representative of the country we live in. Which looks something like this: 50 percent women, 12 percent blacks, 18 percent Hispanics, 6 percent Asians,” Abrams told The Times. Bad Robot explained the new policy in a memo to agents and studios and is reportedly working with both Creative Artists Agency and Warner Bros. and Paramount to implement the new representative approach.
“We worked for a while to improve our internal hiring practices, but the Oscar controversy was a wake-up call to explore our role in expanding opportunities internally at Bad Robot and externally with our content and partners,” Abrams told the Hollywood Reporter about the decision made in late January after #OscarsSoWhite emerged for a second consecutive year with a new series of almost all-white nominations.
“We are working to find a rich pool of representative, outstanding talent and give them the opportunity they deserve and from which we can all benefit,” he added. “This is good for the audience and good for the bottom line.