Diversity in Content
The Walt Disney Company is committed to appealing to broad audiences and reflecting the diversity and multiculturalism of our audience and the world. At the core, we believe that diversity of content is not just an issue for corporate responsibility, it is integral for the growth and viability of the company. By casting a wide net, we are able to engage and remain relevant to a broader community of viewers. Additionally, we believe that a diversity of opinions and ideas enhances our internal creativity and the company's vitality.
We approach diversity in the workplace through a multifaceted strategy. You can learn more about our diversity efforts in the Workplaces, Children's Content and Supplier Diversity sections. Here we will focus on diversity in our network and studio productions and our publishing business.
The Walt Disney Studios' approach to diversifying content includes selecting relevant content, incorporating diversity considerations when casting, expanding partnerships, targeting messages to reach a broader audience and expanding our consumer knowledge through ongoing research and trend tracking. While we have made progress in developing diverse content, as the examples below illustrate, we believe that there is much more we can and will accomplish.
Recent movies released by our studios that have appealed to diverse audiences, and which incorporated Hispanic and Africa- American talent, include Step Up 2 The Streets, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, College Road Trip, High School Musical 3: Senior Year and Miracle at St. Anna
We will continue developing characters for everybody to enjoy. Characters of varied cultures and backgrounds such as Mulan, Pocahontas, Jasmine and Aladdin are embraced by consumers everywhere and have proven their broad appeal. To continue that legacy we will soon introduce with great pride a new animated film with special appeal to diverse audiences.
Walt Disney Animation Studios is set to release the musical The Princess and the Frog, an animated comedy set in the great city of New Orleans that provides a modern twist on a classic tale. The movie features our latest princess, Tiana (voiced by Anika Noni Rose), an intelligent and beautiful African-American girl who dreams of starting her own business. From the heart of Louisiana's mystical bayous and the banks of the mighty Mississippi, this fun-filled adventure is due out in theaters in late 2009.
In our television group, diversity is approached in three principal ways: integrated and targeted content, talent development and marketing to reach a broader audience. We put special emphasis on talent development with the belief that multicultural writers, directors and actors will organically reflect diversity in the content that is developed. To date, we have introduced talent programs such as ABC/Disney writing fellowships, Directors Breakage and ABC Studio Production Assistants to help identify and cultivate talent in a more diverse workforce. For more information on our approach to fostering a diverse workforce, please see the Workplaces section.
Today, ABC is a leading network representing diversity as recognized by the industry. In 2008, ABC picked up six ALMA awards for the promotion of fair, accurate and balanced portrayals of Latinos in the entertainment industry. Additionally, we received the highest score from the National Hispanic Media Coalition on its "report card." Finally, shows on our networks won several awards from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 2008.
In addition to many outreach efforts and financial support to serve multicultural organizations, ESPN has been a leader in hiring commentators of varying ethnicities, in distributing programming that meets the different needs of its diverse fan base and in launching media outlets aimed at multicultural communities. The ESPN Deportes brand and content, which are available through TV network, radio, print and online channels, serve U.S. Hispanic fans. ESPN's multimedia outlets not only spotlight and cover diverse athletes but also offer documentaries such as Black Magic, a widely acclaimed two-part series about African-American college basketball players breaking the color barrier and special events like the MEAC/SWAC Challenge featuring historically black college football teams.
Disney Publishing Worldwide
Disney Publishing Worldwide is committed to delivering the highest-quality content for all of its publishing programs. Disney Publishing Worldwide created the Jump at the Sun imprint in 1998 with the mission of celebrating the rich diversity of African-American culture and history through books for children and teens of all races and cultures. Since its inception, Jump at the Sun has received many industry accolades and honors, including Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Awards and NAACP Image Awards. Leading African-American authors and illustrators including Kadir Nelson, Toni Morrison, Whoopi Goldberg and Sharon G. Flake have published best-selling and award winning books under the Jump at the Sun banner. Disney Publishing celebrates diversity in other ways as well – through the Cheetah Girls novels and other publications that bring together characters of different backgrounds and ethnicities.
The Road Ahead
As our diversity efforts progress, one area that represents great opportunity for improvement is diversity behind the camera. Shows such as Ugly Betty and Grey's Anatomy represent good first steps, with Latino and African-American producers, directors and writers. We hope to build on this solid start and embed the multicultural point of view into the very fabric of our production process – from writing to acting to directing and producing. This objective underscores our fundamental belief that a diverse production will produce a superior product and attract a greater audience.