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California’s Black Caucus Demands Answers After Mass Exodus Of Black Female Film Execs

Legislators from the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) are raising eyebrows after an alarming number of Black women left C-suite positions in the film industry.

The CLBC voiced concerns about the film industry undervaluing diversity in higher-level positions, Variety reported.

The outlet reported that the organization held a press conference after film executives Vernā Myers, LaTondra Newton, Jeanell English, Karen Horne, and Terra Potts vacated positions at leading film studios. The legislators believe the close timings of their resignations and terminations are not coincidental.

Sen. Lola Smallwood-Cuevas (D-Los Ángeles) said she thinks something else is happening. “This is a troubling pattern,” Smallwood-Cuevas noted during a recent press conference. “A pattern that suggests diversity, equity, and inclusion is no longer a priority at the highest levels of the film industry, where decisions are made and institutional change happens.” Smallwood-Cuevas also predicted that more Black women would soon leave C-suite positions at film studios.

Sen. Dave Min (D-Orange County) spoke as an ally of the CLBC. “As Vice Chair of the Asian and Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, I am proud to stand in solidarity with my colleagues in the California Legislative Black Caucus to denounce the recent dismissals of leading African Americans in the entertainment industry,” he said.

The outlet reported the women held leadership positions at Netflix, Warner Bros. Discovery, Disney, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Newton, former chief diversity officer for Disney, left the company after six years, the New York Post reported.

Myers will work with Netflix in a different capacity. “I will be returning to my consulting company [The Vernā Myers Company] working across global organizations and industries while continuing to advise Netflix,” Myers said, according to The Hollywood Reporter. 

English left her role as executive vice president of Impact and Inclusion for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. She accepted the position in July 2022, according to Variety.

Horne and Potts both left their roles at Warner Bros. CNBC reported Horne was senior vice president of North America DEI. The news outlet also said Potts left her post as executive vice president of Worldwide Marketing. She was with Warner Bros. for 13 years.