Cho’s recent accomplishments include playing a key role in AMC Networks’ equity stake investment in streaming service fuboTV. He doesn’t have to look far to cite an example of on-air inclusion. “One of the leads of ‘The Walking Dead,’ the biggest show on television, was Glenn Rhee, portrayed by Steven Yeun, a guy who didn’t fit any offensive stereotypes.”
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?
Obviously, 4 out of 45 is pretty terrible but I’ll take the optimistic view and say it’s a starting point. And while change always takes time, once you address the foundational elements, it can accelerate quickly. But it takes executives who are willing to take risks as well as people of color ignoring the odds and going into acting, writing, directing and producing. I’d love to see the industry move past the novelty aspect of diversity in their content and tell important stories that move, entertain and inspire people—with diversity being organically woven into the content.
What’s a recent example of a step forward for diversity in the industry?
The recent critical and commercial success of “Crazy Rich Asians” with its all-Westernized Asian cast is a great example of the industry taking a chance on diversity and being rewarded by audiences who vote with their wallet. An important takeaway is that audiences today are savvier and more open-minded than given credit for. And I also applaud the networks, creatives and executives who came before and took risks to get us to “Crazy Rich Asians.” Not to toot the horn of the company I work for (but to toot the horn of the company I work for), I’ve always been incredibly proud that one of the leads of “The Walking Dead,” the biggest show on television, was Glenn Rhee, portrayed by Steven Yeun, a guy who didn’t fit any offensive stereotypes but resonated broadly and deeply with audiences and just so happened to be Asian American.
What’s your best advice to someone just entering the video content/distribution industry?
My advice wouldn’t be any different than what I’d say to someone entering any new industry – to work hard and be open-minded. But more specifically, as our industry continues to evolve, we have to be willing and able to adapt along with it. And that means taking on responsibilities that were not necessarily part of the pre-approved job description but also thinking more broadly about where we think the industry is headed – and how best to meet consumers in those places.