Four top female executives at the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) have been let go by Warner Brothers Discovery, adding to a string of high-profile exits at the network.
Variety reports OWN General Counsel Karen Grant-Selma; Chief Marketing Officer Jennifer Giddens; OWN Vice President of Communications, Nicole Nichols; and OWN Head of Programming and Scheduling, MaryBeth Cunin, are leaving the network.
The OWN Network went live on Jan. 1, 2011, and has a wealth of original content, including Family or Fiancee, which follows eight engaged couples who bring their disapproving families together; Belle Collective, which follows five successful Black female entrepreneurs in Jackson, Mississippi, and the drama Queen Sugar by award-winning filmmaker, Ava DuVernay. Discovery and Harpo Productions initially shared a 50/50 stake in OWN, but by 2020, Discovery had a 95% stake in the network.
Nichols, who has been at OWN since 2008 and served as the head of communications for Harpo Productions and as Winfrey’s representative, will now transition into these roles full-time. Before joining OWN, Nichols served as the vice president of entertainment communications for Disney/ABC Television Group.
Grant-Selma previously served as the vice president of business and legal affairs at Universal Pictures, LiveNation entertainment, and DreamWorks Animation before joining OWN in 2019. Giddens, meanwhile, was the senior vice president of marketing and digital for Universal Kids and the head of creative marketing for Netflix’s kids and family department before joining OWN in 2020. Cunin started at OWN in 2013 as programming and scheduling vice president before being promoted to president.
“There is no stronger brand in media than Oprah,” David Zaslav, president and CEO of Discovery Communications, told Reuters when the network was announced in 2008.
“The brand is aspirational, very authentic and stands for inspiring and entertaining people and empowering them to live their best lives. Discovery’s core mission is knowledge and curiosity, and this fits right in that sweet spot.”