'Hollywood, The Sequel,' Episode 8: 'FAST, NIMBLE AND VERY BIG with Netflix Co-CEO Ted Sarandos'
Two Thousand and thirteen that flex commissioned its first original production, the White House Drama House of cards months. Later, it debuted orange is the new black was a series that was acclaimed for the diversity of its characters including transgender actor Laverne. Cox, in the series signaled a direction that Netflix was comfortable taking investing in programming created by and featuring people of color shows like dear white people or when they see us as for the future, what does the company's commitment to equity like given that it's three most powerful? Executives are white men. So clearly, there has been the disruption from the pandemic, but there's also been another massive thing that's happened in the country, and that is this conversation about racism and equity from government to policing to the entertainment industry. So I, WanNa, ask you about a couple of things in June net flicks launched the black lives matter collection had films like avert as Thirteenth Justin to your white people Barry Jenkins Moonlight de Reece's mudbound and your homepage for the B. M. Collection said more than a moment. So as a company, what does that mean more than a moment in terms of your priorities going forward? And about how you might see things differently, and how you responded to that conversation. This has been an ongoing effort for the entertainment industry, but particularly to Netflix. that more than a moment was not a tagline that we created this summer that was actually a spot that we created a couple years ago called great. Day. In Hollywood where we put together our filmmakers of of color and the cast of their shows together to Kinda reenact this photo from great. They're called Great Day in Harlem from the Old Jazz, movement and the Tagline for the for that message. was more than a moment and it has been an ongoing part of WHO Netflix's is. Since the beginning of original content initiative the the films that you just talked about. We were able to assemble that collection because we've been doing it for a long time. It wasn't a scramble and I would say that the opportunity to give filmmakers resources to tell the stories that matter to their audiences is a responsibility, but it's also great business. You mentioned thirteen with Abor do Vernay to meet Abra for the first time at a screening of a movie she did called middle of Nowhere And phenomenal film about you know basic about prison reform and. And that I was my wife's plus one at that screening we went up becoming great friends and after Selma. About documentary projects at things that she made entertain 'cause earlier in her career, she was making docs and and the idea for thirteenth came up in those early conversations with myself and these initial Maura and it was such a powerful film and Got Enormous Audience Got Oscar nomination The public to that conversation and that was years ago. So we're we're we have an ongoing commitment to invest in storytellers as legendary spike Lee as proven as a different day as new as. or somebody even likes to Fond Bristol who? was, not yet out of Nyu we fund his film you yesterday up for Netflix. Or Gina Prints by the would who directed the old guard first African American woman to ever direct a big budget star driven action feature in the history of. Hollywood. So we're we're committed to finding the best storytellers and getting them the asked access to assist to make those films Would you say your commitment has changed? Have you redoubled? Have you made it even more of a priority now than it might have been say three months ago I just it's been in our DNA for so long the thing that people forget Netflix's is a lot different than many media companies in that the green light power doesn't reside just with me I'm fact I have in green that ashore film and a couple of years my team I have vice presidents and directors who have more green light authority than most network presidents, studio presidents. So the commitment that we all have. To make sure that our company represents our audience. And a folks are want to get these stories made and they come into a room full of people. They don't think understand their story That's you know that's gotta be a super disheartening. Meeting to have for filmmaker, it's hard enough to get your things made. You know even if they're great, they definitely want him to make because you don't think the the person you're pitching to get it So we're GONNA make sure that the audience for those pitches as diverse as the audience who may watch down the road we've been investing and growing in that. Now, my happy with the numbers that we have now, of course not. But. We're continue to do the work and we continue to push forward. So. One of your filmmakers you mentioned her name Eva Devante said on our podcast that as long as white men are calling the shots and at the top of the food chain truly meaningful change is impossible that there needs to be a total reset and the three top people. Netflix are all white men reed hastings yourself in Greg Peters. Does that concern you at all and if not why not? Well, AP also said, in the New York Times that Netflix's is the largest distributor of black images. In the world, we have a deep commitment to diversity and inclusion. And we're getting better and representative about an all the time So I don't think I I think that the again that if all the decision making authority was wrangled with the with myself or even the three of us that would be a problem, but it certainly is not and they said projects find their home on. Netflix because of the diverse and rich group of executives who hear those stories inbound those stories. If you are really trying to make sure that going forward or even now the company is GonNa look as much like the country as his possible. Do you look at stated targets. Do you look at mandates? How do you measure your own progress and make sure that you're doing a good job as you can Look I think the main thing is a commitment to ongoing improvement because I, if you lay out numbers and targets, you wind up having all kinds of things that make you comfortably check boxes, which is not what we're after and you know you've got a group of people who really liked to win. So if you defined the win as x number of people doing