Calling all diversity and inclusion campaigners! There’s about to be a TV comedy specifically for you!
According to Variety, Fox has ordered a put pilot from Cameron Johnson and Felicia D. Henderson titled Diversity Hire. The pair already have a relationship with Fox through the show Empire, where Johnson is a story editor and Henderson previously worked as a consulting producer and writer.
And just so we’re not drowning in jargon, a “put pilot,” is a pilot that a network has contractually agreed to air as a special or series; if they don’t, they face substantial monetary penalties, paid to the studio. It’s a guarantee that the pilot will air on the network, which is different from a network developing a pilot and choosing not to air it (without penalty). Essentially, the single pilot is generally used as a market test to determine whether the network will order a complete series.
Okay, back to the show. Variety describes Diversity Hire as follows:
The show centers on Zenzi Baker, a brilliant, young, African-American, programmer whose life is turned upside down when her boss embroils his successful tech company in a publicity nightmare. To save face, Zenzi, a low-level coder, is plucked from obscurity and promoted to chief diversity and inclusion officer. Her primary qualification? She’s “diverse.”
I am all the way here for this as someone who works in the entertainment industry, particularly because the industry likes to publicly pat itself on the back for its “diversity and inclusion” platforms. But Hollywood isn’t alone here. There are several other industries—like fashion and technology—that have departments or roles dedicated to pushing diversity and inclusion.
Since comedy typically serves as a form of social commentary, I’m looking forward to this show calling bullshit: for most, “diversity and inclusion” equals employing one black or brown person and claiming “mission accomplished.” Except, that isn’t diverse at all since the word essentially means variety. One drop of color in a sea of white, or one woman in a sea of men or one alternate sexual identity in a sea of heteronormativity? Nah.
Additionally, here’s a pet peeve of mine: referring to a single employee or actor as “diverse.” In discussing the issue of inclusion, I’ve noticed the term “a diverse actor” or “a diverse worker,” which makes absolutely no sense.
The fight is for the room or space to be diverse. Everyone is so trapped in the buzzword bubble, it’s almost as if a machine is automatically generating empty phrases that become viral for a moment with no substantial change.
So, I’m hoping this show calls out all of that shit and more. I’ll be tuned in.
“I love working with the next generation of content creators,” Henderson said. “It scratches my mentoring itch. And Cameron has this amazing, special, unique voice that is irreverent, honest, and hilarious. Developing this show with him has been a ridiculous amount of fun.”
Johnson penned the pilot script and will co-executive produce and Henderson will executive produce with her producing partner, Darryl Taja, under their WaterWalk Entertainment banner.