On Tuesday, October 30, Warner Bros. Chairman and CEO Kevin Tsujihara was honored with the Visionary Leadership Award at the U.S.-China Entertainment Gala dinner sponsored by The Asia Society. Using the opportunity to advocate for further diversity and inclusion in all aspects of the entertainment industry, Tsujihara reiterated the need for change on a global scale, challenging longstanding mindsets.
An excerpt of his comments is below:
…It’s always nice to be recognized, but it’s especially satisfying that this award is about something much bigger than me. It’s about Warner Bros. being a part of a real sea change across the entertainment industry—recognizing the importance, value and power of diversity—in our content and in our people.
When I was named CEO of Warner Bros. in 2013, I became the first Asian American to head a Hollywood studio. It’s a role and responsibility that’s challenging and rewarding, leading a company that I love.
At Warner Bros., our mission is to be the leading creator and distributor of extraordinary entertainment content by partnering with the world’s most inspiring storytellers. Today, that content is increasingly diverse, telling a wider range of stories, created by a broader roster of talent than ever before.
Look at this summer’s blockbuster “The Meg”—the most successful U.S.-China co-production of all time—and “Crazy Rich Asians”—the most successful romantic comedy in a decade and the first major studio release to feature an entirely Asian cast in 25 years. We’re seeing first hand that diversity not only feels good but it’s also good for the bottom line.
But it’s more than that. I believe in the power of what we create.
The stories we tell can help us see the world through someone else’s eyes. They can start conversations, help bridge our differences, bring us closer together and drive social change. And they can also just be a whole lot of fun. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a crazy rich Asian for a day?
We know that to maintain our relevance and our creative excellence, we need to work with new voices to tell new stories. Stories that reflect a global perspective, from the faces we see on screen, to those writing the scripts, running the sets, or making the magic happen in the editing room.
Growing up in the 1970s as the child of Japanese Americans who were interned by the U.S. government, I didn’t see a lot of people who looked like me on television or in movies. I’m happy to report that 40 years later, while we still have a lot of work to do, things have gotten better.
And, it doesn’t matter whether the characters are black or white, Asian or Latino; whether they’re male or female, gay, straight or transgender.
It turns out that diversity isn’t just good for storytelling – it’s good for business: Research has shown audiences want to see diverse content—and the most diverse shows are the most profitable.
At Warner Bros., we’ve made this a top priority. We’re looking everywhere and we’re asking ourselves what more we can do to increase access, to further representation and to make our content and our industry representative and inclusive.
This policy, in part, reads:
“It is essential that our content and creative partners reflect the diversity of our society and the world around us. Together with other production companies, networks, guilds, unions, talent agencies and others in the industry, we all must ensure there is greater inclusion of women, people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, those with disabilities and other underrepresented groups in greater numbers both in front of and behind the camera.”
We’re proud to be standing on the frontlines, working with like-minded partners, to further representation in our industry.
Because we know it’s right. And we know it works.
Watch the video above to see Kevin Tsujihara’s full comments.