Conversations about Hollywood’s diversity problem often circle back to one point: Change the gatekeepers. But what if the path forward actually circumvents those traditional gatekeepers entirely?
“If you ever want to know where the evolution of the entertainment business is going, distribution-wise, just look at the porn industry and the sex work industry,” said “Russian Doll” creator Leslye Headland at TheWrap’s annual Power Women’s Summit on Tuesday. “As soon as porn became democratized and algorithm-based, I just thought … ‘Yeah, that’s the next thing.’”
“With OnlyFans, I got very excited because I started to think, maybe there won’t be any gatekeepers,” she continued. “These are things that could be really exciting for marginalized communities or artists.”
Headland’s comments came during the “Creators, Showrunners, Producers” panel discussing ways Hollywood can take concrete steps toward a more inclusive future. She was joined on the panel by David Collins (“Queer Eye”), Smriti Mundhra (“Indian Matchmaking”), Liz Tigelaar (“Little Fires Everywhere”), Tanya Saracho (“Vida”), Elle Johnson (“Self Made”) and Ilana Pena (“Diary of a Future President”).
Throughout the conversation, the panelists discussed the ways they’ve tried to nudge the industry to include more “marginalized” voices, but Mundhra sought to reframe the issue: “I would rather think of all of us as money that the industry has left on the table because of its own blindness and opportunities that have been slept on that people are now waking up to,” she said.
“My career, my whole purpose, everything that I do, is to prove that my perspective and the perspectives of other people who have been ignored for a long time are not niche,” she said. “Our stories are global, [and] our perspectives are relatable.”
Tigelaar shared an anecdote about purposefully putting together a diverse cast and crew for “Little Fires Everywhere” and then finding herself in the position of having to defend the show’s authenticity to a group of executives who couldn’t relate to the material they produced…