Starz Launches #TakeTheLead Initiative To Amplify Diverse Voices, Teams With UCLA For Inclusion Study

From American Gods to Power to P-Valley, it is clear that Starz is striving ahead and making huge efforts with inclusive storytelling. The premium cabler is looking to even be more inclusive as Starz President and CEO Jeffrey Hirsch of Starz announced that they are launching the #TakeTheLead initiative, a comprehensive effort deepening the company’s existing commitment to narratives by, about and for women and underrepresented audiences.  

Starz commissioned an inclusion study in partnership with The Center for Scholars & Storytellers, UCLA with results confirming Starz is “Taking the Lead” (hence the title of the initiative) with its representation on and off screen. To inspire and engage others across the industry to follow suit and #TakeTheLead, Starz will also host a series of monthly “Transparency Talks” with thought leaders and members of key organizations including the ACLU of Southern California, Producers Guild of America, California Film Commission and more.

“At Starz, #TakeTheLead is our continued commitment to narratives by, about and for women and underrepresented audiences,” said Hirsch. “The multi-faceted approach to improving representation serves as our guiding principle across our business from programming choices to hiring decisions.”

He continued, “I’m proud that Starz leads the industry with 63.2% series leads who are people of color, 54.6% female showrunners and a 75% female executive team, which is indicative of our deep-seated commitment to representation on screen, behind the camera and throughout our organization. While it is valuable to evaluate how we are measuring up against our directive, it’s even more important to identify opportunities where we can continue to further progress on our mission.”

The results of the report are a testament to Starz’s commitment to investing in content that amplifies diverse voices and shines a spotlight on women in front of and behind the camera with hit series including the aforementioned series Power and P-Valley as well as Outlander. It also shows in their forthcoming slate of series that include Run the World, Blindspotting, Black Mafia Family, Shining Vale, Serpent Queen, among others.

In addition to the findings below, 75% of Starz’s executive leadership team are women, inclusive of direct reports to the President and CEO, and 50% are people of color, all who are women. The UCLA study, which measured STARZ scripted Original Series that aired or will air between January 2020 through December 2021 as well as series that are in production as of February 2021, verified that Starz is significantly above industry averages in several categories.

Below is a breakdown of how some of the key findings benchmark against the industry average.

  • 63.2% of series leads on STARZ Original Series are people of color (+78.1% above 27.7% industry average) and 57.9% are women (+24.6% above 45.2% industry average)
  • 60.4% of series regular roles on Starz are portrayed by people of color (+48.3% above 36.9% industry average) and 27.8% are portrayed by women of color (+58% above 15.3% industry average)
  • 54.6% of showrunners at Starz are women (+64.1% above 28.1% industry average) with 45.5% are people of color (+123.8% over industry average of 10.7%)
  • 47.1% of executive producers are people of color (+85% over 19% industry average) and 41.2% are women (+52.8% over 24% industry average)
  • 29.1% of writers are women of color (+78.9% above 12.63% industry average)
    49.3% of directors are people of color (+77.4% above 21.8% industry average) and 43.7% are women (+37.2% above 30% industry average)
  • 75% of the executive team are women and 50% are people of color, all of whom are women

Click here to read the full report. Watch the video below that illustrates Starz’s #TakeTheLead initiative.

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