Amazon Studios Demands Productions Include 50% Female Characters As Well As LGBTQ, Disabled, and Underrepresented Racial Groups

Amazon Studios has released a new policy it says is aimed at increasing diversity, inclusion, and equity in its content and productions.

The new policy, which Deadline reported was revealed on Wednesday, includes a requirement that creative teams and characters meet certain diversity requirements, and that characters are played by actors whose identity aligns. The full policy states the following goals for the studio’s productions, as reported by Deadline:

  • Each film or series with a creative team of three or more people in above-the-line roles (Directors, Writers, Producers) should ideally include a minimum 30% women and 30% members of an underrepresented racial/ethnic group. This aspirational goal will increase to 50% by 2024.
  • Casting actors whose identity (gender, gender identity, nationality, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability) aligns with the character they will be playing.
  • Aiming to include one character from each of the following categories in speaking roles, with minimum 50% of these to be women: LGBTQIA+, person with a disability, and three regionally underrepresented race/ethnic/cultural groups. A single character can fulfill one or more of these identities.
  • Seeking at least three bids from vendors or suppliers on productions, one of which must be from a woman-owned business and one from a minority-owned business.
  • Pay equity across casting, behind the camera staff and crew, and for vendors and suppliers.

“With the establishment of our Inclusion Policy and Inclusion Playbook, Amazon Studios has committed itself to being a thought and action leader in the transformation of our industry,” Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios, told Deadline. “We know how much work there is to be done to improve representation both on camera and behind the scenes, and it starts at home, with us. With clear directives and a commitment to accountability, these guides provide a path toward a more equitable future, both on- and off-camera.”

Amazon reportedly said it was creating a template for productions to check off whether these expectations were met, which must be submitted one month before principal photography is completed.

Variety, which first reported the new Amazon policy, said productions should “ideally include a minimum 30% women and 30% members of an underrepresented racial/ethnic group,” but that the “aspirational goal” would be increased to 50% in 2024.

Variety reported that the “hiring and purchasing goals are an effort to leverage Amazon Studios’ clout to make a dent in the systemic obstacles to greater participation in the industry among those from underrepresented backgrounds.”

Albert Cheng, chief operating officer of Amazon Studios and co-head of TV, told the outlet that “this is not a diversity initiative.”

“These are policies that are ingrained in how we do business. This is our intentional effort to build equity and representation into every aspect of what we do,” he said.

Time will tell whether the studio will be able to find enough people to fill the quotas or whether the studios will also be dedicated to producing “woke” content that tends to turn off viewers.

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