In a company-wide Zoom call last Monday, Karey Burke, president of Disney’s General Entertainment Content, vowed more inclusivity in the company’s productions by introducing more characters from underrepresented groups, such as racial minorities and the LGBTQ community.
“I’m here as a mother of two queer children, actually,” Burke said on the call. “One transgender child and one pansexual child, and also as a leader… I feel a responsibility to speak, not just for myself but for them (her colleagues).”
As seen in a video posted on Twitter on Tuesday, the call was part of Disney’s Reimagine Tomorrow campaign, which aims to establish inclusion standards across all Disney General Entertainment content. “By 2022, 50% of regular and recurring characters across Disney General Entertainment scripted content will come from underrepresented groups,” read one of the intentions of the company-wide campaign on its website.
Burke shared that she had been taken aback to find out from a colleague that Disney only had a few queer lead characters in its content.
“We had an open forum last week at 20th [Century] ― … the home of really incredible groundbreaking LGBTQIA stories over the years ― where one of our execs stood up and said, ‘You know, we only had a handful of queer leads in our content,’” Burke recalled. “And I went, ‘What? That can’t be true. And I realized, ‘Oh it’s actually is true.’”
Burke continued, “We have many, many, many LGBTQIA characters in our stories and yet, we don’t have enough leads and narratives in which gay characters just get to be characters and not have to be about gay stories, and so that’s been very eye-opening for me.”
Burke went on to admit that Disney’s more thorough push for inclusivity has probably not have happened if Florida Governor Ron DeSantis didn’t sign legislation last Monday that bans Florida teachers from discussing LGBTQ topics like sexual orientation or gender identity with students unless they’re in the fourth grade or higher.
“It’s something that I feel perhaps, had this moment not happened, I as a leader and as well as my colleagues would not have focused on,” Burke said. “And moving on, I will certainly be more so. I know that we will be. I hope this is the moment where … we just don’t allow ourselves to be backwards.”
SCOOP: Disney corporate president Karey Burke says, "as the mother [of] one transgender child and one pansexual child," she supports having "many, many, many LGBTQIA characters in our stories" and wants a minimum of 50 percent of characters to be LGBTQIA and racial minorities. pic.twitter.com/oFRUiuu9JG
— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) March 29, 2022
Disney previously released a statement denouncing the new law. “Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that,” read the statement from the company last Monday.
Disney issued the statement after a number of its employees staged walkouts and held protests against the Don’t Say Gay bill, which is now a law in the state.