Former Warner Bros. Execs Cite Lack Of Diversity As Studio Shakeups Occur

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(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Warner Bros. has been seeing a lot of changes from within lately following its merger with Discovery earlier this year and gaining a new CEO in David Zaslav. An unprecedented decision to cancel Batgirl and the Scoob! sequel was recently made despite both productions being on the home stretch of finishing. The company has also reportedly laid off a number of employees, leaving less people of color around, according to former Warner Bros. executives. 

Some former employees of Warner Bros. (who preferred to be unnamed) shared with The Daily Beast that the recent shakeups within the company has led to many team members in charge of developing shows and movies for HBO Max being let go. It’s been alleged that 13 of those laid off as of late were non-white employees. The former executives who spoke out believe the move will lead to a lack of diversity moving forward in the content the company produces. As one of the execs shared: 

HBO is the most homogenous part of this umbrella. Instead of trying to figure out how to integrate some of the [Max] executives into HBO, they just made this sweeping cut of three divisions: kids, family, and international. A lot of Black and brown people lost their jobs.

So far, it has been confirmed that among the layoffs, Jen Kim, an Asian woman who was the senior vice president of the international team, was let go along with Kaela Barnes, a Black woman who worked under Kim. The execs shared that after the recent layoffs, there are barely any non-white employees left on HBO Max’s team. Here’s another quote from an unnamed WB source about the developments: 

In terms of people seeing themselves reflected, whether it’s ethnic or LGBTQ, when you have people who are diverse, the lens with which they evaluate [content] factors in things that I think my white colleagues just don’t think about.

The more studios hire people from diverse backgrounds, the more we’ll see stories that better reflect our world and all the different skin colors and cultures our world encompasses. We all have our own unconscious biases, and with less people of color on HBO’s team, one former Warner Bros. executive predicts an increased lack of diversity. 

Warner Bros. did cancel one of its most diverse movies to date with Batgirl. The movie was set to star an Afro-Latina Barbara Gordon, include a trans actress and be helmed by two Moroccan filmmakers. That’s a lot of firsts in Batgirl that won’t see the light of day. It was reported this week that select reps and execs are being invited to “funeral screenings” of Batgirl before the movie is locked away. 

It’s disheartening to hear Warner Bros may be creating blind spots for the forwarding of diversity that could affect their newly planned connected DC universe and audiences with an HBO Max subscription. We’ll keep you posted on the latest developments as Warner Bros.’ merger continues to affect the future of the studio.  

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.