Addressing concerns that Hollywood does not reflect the diversity of the nation, Walt Disney Television has announced two new initiatives designed to create opportunities for individuals from underrepresented backgrounds and a new scholarship for minority comedy writers.
Two programs, the Executive Incubator Program, which is intended to create a pipeline of next-generation network executives, and the Walt Disney Television Studios Intern Program, which will offer a career path for diverse talent behind the camera, are accepting applications now. Meanwhile, Disney Channel announced it has established The Eunetta T. Boone Comedy Writer’s Scholarship to provide dedicated funds to hire emerging and diverse writers who are pursuing careers in comedy writing for television.
These new programs continue Disney|ABC’s commitment to expand its diverse talent workforce and better reflect the audiences it serves, and will seek out talent with diverse and varied perspectives, including women, people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, military veterans, people with disabilities and others aspiring to hold network executive roles and production positions across the Walt Disney Television studios.
The apprentice-style Executive Incubator Program will expose participants to all aspects of network business, including development, current, casting and marketing, with the goal of job placement within the company at the end of the two-year rotational program. The program—which will operate across ABC Entertainment and Freeform—is accepting applicants now, with the first cohort expected to join the program in October.
“Our jobs allow us the privilege to nurture great storytellers and it’s imperative that these stories come from different places, with authentic points of view and varied perspectives,” said Karey Burke, president, ABC Entertainment. “It’s incumbent on us to help find and nurture the next generation of executives who will create new opportunities for storytellers. The Executive Incubator Program is another step in making our ranks more diverse and our stories more reflective of the world we live in.”
“The Executive Incubator Program gifts us with the opportunity to continue to create a culture in which the storytellers of tomorrow are given a foundation for a more inclusive and diverse television landscape,” said Tom Ascheim, president, Freeform. “Some of the richest storytelling is yet to be found, from perspectives that we haven’t yet seen or heard, and we are truly looking forward to welcoming in a new generation of leaders who will open the door to these voices on- and off-screen.”
Participants in the Walt Disney Television Studios Intern Program will work with the Studios’ production, post production, writing and casting teams to develop their skills and gain real job experience as they embark upon careers in the entertainment industry. Qualified candidates will be sourced from nonprofits including Academy Gold, Ghetto Film School, Los Angeles City College, Manifest Works and Evolve Entertainment Fund. The initiative is scheduled to begin in time for the 2019 fall season.
“Our Studios program creates opportunity for underrepresented talent to access an incredible range of career opportunities at Disney Television Studios,” said Craig Hunegs, president, Disney Television Studios. “This new initiative is a win-win-win—it helps us discover talent in underrepresented areas, gives candidates real experience as they grow their careers and ultimately leads to more diverse stories being told.”
As part of the Walt Disney Television Writing Program, today Disney Channel announced it has established The Eunetta T. Boone Comedy Writer’s Scholarship to provide dedicated funds to hire emerging and diverse writers who are pursuing careers in comedy writing for television. The scholarship honors the trailblazing writer and producer who was executive producer and showrunner of Disney Channel’s comedy series Raven’s Home when she passed away in March 2019. Boone was creator and executive producer of the comedy series One on One and its spin-off Cuts; co-executive producer of My Wife & Kids and The Hughleys; co-producer on Living Single; supervising producer on The Parent ‘Hood; and story editor/consultant on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, to name just some of her many credits.
“Eunetta loved the craft of writing, she was proud of her art both as a reflection of our world and as a way to shape culture. She had a keen appreciation of true talent and mentored many young diverse voices throughout her career. As a showrunner, she was also an inspiring leader who steered sitcoms with tremendous wit and wisdom. We miss her and are proud to begin this scholarship that will carry on her legacy of encouraging future generations of writers,” said Nancy Kanter, executive vice president, Content and Creative Strategy, Disney Channels Worldwide, in today’s announcement.