Michael Quigley

Quigley oversees all aspects of content strategy for TBS and TNT. He also leads Turner’s Creative Council, which is composed of brand leaders from across the portfolio. “Striving toward inclusive organizes at all levels will be a considerable step forward that would also alter the makeup of the current television landscape to be a truer representation of the audiences consuming programming content will delivering the entertainment that today’s audiences desire,” he says.

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?
It’s important that we continue to foster diverse voices, faces and points of view within television and the greater entertainment landscape overall. The data continues to prove that shows that present those diverse voices and differentiated points of view performing well. All anyone needs to do is to look up the top 10 shows on cable this year to see that proof point reflected in real time.

To that end, TBS’ “The Last O.G.” was a breakout success, setting a new record as cable’s biggest comedy premiere since 2015 and the #1 cable comedy show of 2018. And TNT’s “Claws” defied the odds in its second season with year over year audience growth and a spot among cable’s top dramas. Being home to top performing shows with creators of color in 2017-2018, TBS and TNT are showing that it is possible to bring creative diversity to television and perform at the highest levels.

What’s a recent example of a step forward for diversity in the industry?
The fact that there are multiple initiatives stemming from all of these conversations being introduced and implemented across the industry addressing diversity and inclusion is a huge step forward in and of itself. We are at an economic, social and cultural tipping point and sustainable change is within reach as long as we as an industry continue to take action individually and collectively. The shift from simply talking about the known issues to taking action is not only becoming a welcome part of the business of entertainment, but it is also becoming “mission imperative” to the health and future of our industry. In terms of a recent specific example of a “step forward,” the ReFrame initiative led by Women In Film and the Sundance Institute is a great one to highlight. ReFrame is a nonprofit organization that employs a unique strategy, a peer-to-peer approach to engage senior, industry decision-makers to mitigate bias during the creative decision-making and hiring process, celebrate successes, and measure progress toward a more gender-representative industry across all levels.

In what areas should the industry step up its efforts with regard to diversity and inclusion?
It’s important that there are people who represent a diverse and multicultural mindset in places of decision-making capacity, which is the very definition of an “inclusive” workplace. At the end of the day, it isn’t enough to simply point to an employee population and highlight trainings and/or present workshops around diversity. Diversity is nothing without inclusion and what will ultimately create the most impact that will evolve the current state of the industry is when you’re in a position to greenlight a show. There are so few of us in the ‘decision-maker’ positions with the power to do so currently. Striving toward inclusive organizes at all levels will be a considerable step forward that would also alter the makeup of the current television landscape to be a truer representation of the audiences consuming programming content will delivering the entertainment that today’s audiences desire.

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