Supervisory Writers in Late-Night and Comedy-Variety Television To Sign Writers Guild’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Pledge
NEW YORK, NY (December 20, 2022) – The Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) and Writers Guild of America West (WGAW) today unveiled a landmark pledge to address Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) issues in Late-Night and Comedy-Variety television signed by industry leaders like Samantha Bee, Charlamagne tha God, Adam Conover, The Kid Mero, Desus Nice, Trevor Noah, John Oliver, Kal Penn, Amber Ruffin, Amy Schumer, and John Wilson, among many others.
The pledge calls for concrete steps to ensure that the hiring pipeline is open and accessible to BIPOC writers; to address unconscious biases in the review process of writing packets; to create informal and formal mechanisms to support BIPOC writers’ ability to succeed in traditionally White writers rooms; and to ensure diverse voices to be heard, supported, and elevated in writers rooms.
The pledge reads, “As hosts, showrunners, executive producers, and head writers of late-night and comedy-variety television, we commit to improving diversity, equity, and inclusion in our industry – not only as a matter of social justice, but with the understanding that the continued vitality and relevance of our work is dependent on hiring, empowering, retaining, developing, and promoting diverse talent, and on ensuring that our work onscreen and off reflects the racial diversity of our country and audience.
“Though shows vary in staffing, structure, and schedule, the issues in this industry are systemic and the challenges facing Black, Indigenous, and writers of color must be addressed at every show. As writers with authority and power in this system, we must maintain a common level of commitment to this work and must uphold a certain ethic of behavior.”
The supervisory writers who signed the pledge come from series like “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon,” “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” “Saturday Night Live,” “Ziwe,” “How To With John Wilson,” “The Problem with Jon Stewart,” “Game Theory with Bomani Jones,” “Inside Amy Schumer,” “Hell of a Week With Charlamagne tha God,” “Tooning Out the News,” “That Damn Michael Che,” “The G Word with Adam Conover,” “Desus & Mero,” “Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj,” “It’s Personal with Amy Hoggart,” “The Chris Gethard Show,” “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee,” and “Joe Pera Talks with You,” among others.
In addition, over 200 staff writers of Comedy-Variety shows have lent their support to these efforts in an endorsement that reads, “Late-Night and Comedy-Variety television has been a fundamental part of our audience’s lives for almost 80 years, but the writers’ rooms have not always fully and accurately represented our viewership. The more that our rooms are representative of and speak to the public, the more likely viewers will tune in to hear from us again. In order to speak authentically to our diverse audience, late-night and comedy/variety television writers’ rooms need to reflect that diversity.”
Lowell Peterson, Executive Director of the Writers Guild of America, East, said, “We engaged our members directly in the process of analyzing barriers to inclusion in Comedy-Variety, and of identifying specific actions to address those barriers. This means our members are aware and committed to the ideas and the actions in this important pledge. The pledge is proof that people in positions of power, as well as those at the staff writer level, embrace the change needed to ensure BIPOC voices are a vital part of the influential world of Late-Night and Comedy-Variety television.”
Charlamagne tha God, host of “Hell of A Week with Charlamagne tha God” on Comedy Central, said, “There is a staunch difference between the reality of diversity in casting and the illusion of diversity in casting. The latter shows casting someone from a marginalized community, in my case the Black community, to host a new late night talk show where key positions from the showrunner to writers will likely all be filled by white men. Making diversity a reality is casting someone from a marginalized community, in my case, still Black, as the host but also as the executive producer where they are empowered to assemble a team that accurately reflects the community and culture. I also really have to thank Chris McCarthy for believing in me and empowering me to achieve my goal of assembling a writer’s room and staff that have cultural competence and are accurate reflections of my community.”
Josh Gondelman, who was the Head Writer and Executive Producer of “Desus & Mero” on Showtime, said, “I have a lot of hope that this pledge can be a meaningful step towards creating fairer, more inclusive comedy/variety workplaces where writers from all backgrounds can flourish in supportive environments. I’m grateful for the hard work of numerous writers to create an actionable blueprint and get so many people in the industry to commit to actually taking those actions.”
The Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) and the Writers Guild of America West (WGAW) are labor unions representing writers in motion pictures, television, cable, digital media, and broadcast news. The Guilds negotiate and administer contracts that protect the creative and economic rights of their members; conduct programs, seminars, and events on issues of interest to writers; and present writers’ views to various bodies of government. For more information on the Writers Guild of America, East, visit www.wgaeast.org. For more information on the Writers Guild of America, West, visit www.wga.org.