Bryant is creating a diverse slate of unscripted programming that ranges from the topical, such as allegations against music artist R. Kelly, to the uplifting, such as “Jordin Sparks: A Baby Story” to the off-beat, like “Seatbelt Psychic.” There’s still work to do in order to become more inclusive, Bryant, says, and she knows just where to start. “If we leave room for more diversity behind the camera, we will see a very natural emergence of diverse storytelling in front of the camera,” she opines.
A February 2018 UCLA study revealed that of the 45 new scripted shows approved for 2017-18 across broadcast, cable and digital platforms, only four were from creators of color, all of whom were black. What is your reaction to this report?
There’s work to do. We know there is tremendous power in voices that are able to share their history, their voice, their truth. We owe it to ourselves to expand those opportunities rather than limit them.
What’s a recent example of a step forward for diversity in the industry?
Oh there are many more than yesterday, that’s for sure. The ones that I absolutely cannot stop talking about—and still feel such an intense sense of excitement around – are “Crazy Rich Asians,” “Black Panther,” “Insecure,” “To All the Boys I Loved Before” and “A Wrinkle in Time.” They were all massive hits that not only encapsulated diversity behind and in front of the screen – they busted their specific genre doors open – romantic comedies, action, sci-fi, etc. When most of the greats recount their lifelong achievements, the phrase that often comes up is—someone took a chance on me. One of America’s greatest strengths lives in our diversity. When we tap into that unique superpower, we’ll weave a stronger tapestry with our storytelling. We just need to be more absolute in providing those chances.
In what areas should the industry step up its efforts with regard to diversity and inclusion?
There are a million ways to explore families, love stories, etc. that have so far gone untold. If we leave room for more diversity behind the camera, we will see a very natural emergence of diverse storytelling in front of the camera.
What’s your best advice to someone just entering the video content/distribution industry?
I have a sign hanging in my office that says “work hard and be nice to people” – so I try and stand by that. I’ve also found that the battles fought for ego are lost more than those fought for passion.
What’s been the most dramatic change in your sector of the business today vs. three years ago?
Social media has definitely caused a dramatic change in our business in the last three years. I find the real time responses to our creative to be mesmerizing.