Latasha Gillespie Continues to Lead Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Amazon Studios

Latasha Gillespie Continues to Lead Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Amazon Studios

Latasha Gillespie Continues to Lead Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Amazon Studios

Ever since George Floyd died at the hands of police officers in Minnesota on May 25, 2020, and the public viewing of his death went viral, America took a stand. Within that stand, many major companies promised to become more inclusive and beef up and/or start diversity, equity, and inclusion protocols at their companies. Amazon had already initiated a DEI program before that fateful day and placed it in the hands of Latasha Gillespie.

Gillespie is the Executive Head of Global Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility for Amazon Studios, Prime Video, and IMDb and has been working at Amazon as She was responsible for leading the creation of Amazon’s first Conversations on Race and Ethnicity (CORE) conference.

Gillespie spoke to The Industry Cosign about her role with Amazon Studios, the collaboration between the company and Howard University, and gives advice on how one can be successful with their passion.

You’re the Executive Head of Global Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility for Amazon Studios, Prime Video, and IMDb. What are your primary responsibilities in this role and what should we anticipate from Amazon Studios through your direction?

In my role, I am responsible for the development and management of all content-related and customer-facing DEIA work for Amazon Studios and Prime Video.

My team and I work closely with our partners, executives, and talent from a project’s greenlight to inception to ensure an inclusive and equitable experience for cast, crew members, and viewers.  In 2021, we launched our Inclusion Policy and Playbook, which solidifies Amazon Studios’ commitment to innovate on its existing practices and aims to transform the film and entertainment industry to be more representative of US audiences. The Policy & Playbook provides aspirational goals and guidelines for our collaborators in the creative community, and it seeks to amplify voices across race, ethnicity, nationality, LGBTQIA+, age, religion, neuro-diversity, disability, body size, gender, gender identity, and gender expression for the global Prime Video audience. A great example of the policy in motion is Lizzo’s Watch Out For The Big Girls. We knew we could tell very specific stories about thick, curvaceous, beautiful Black and brown, straight, cis, trans, and queer women that would resonate with broader audiences. We saw that with the fanbase and the audience themselves, and it was a commercial success, but it was also a critical success – it won an Emmy!

How did you bring about the collaboration between Amazon Studios and Howard University? What is the expectation from that initiative?

The future of creative talent hinges on equitable access to opportunities in the film and entertainment industry. We developed the Howard University Entertainment Program to build a pathway for the next generation of Black executives in Hollywood. This industry-first partnership offers a one-of-a-kind educational and hands-on learning experience for students studying film, public relations, marketing, fine arts, and law and is now in its fourth year.  In the future, we will continue to develop our pathways for all students of Color by creating programs that serve all Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs).

Black people being content creators and artistic people since our existence, why are major companies now trying to become more diverse and hiring someone with your background to bring more people of color to the forefront?

I think some companies are coming to the table because they understand the business case for inclusion – global demographics are skewing younger and more diverse in every way. Others are more reactionary and are responding to the civil unrest over the last three years caused by the murder of George Floyd, the COVID pandemic, and vaccine inequities. Luckily for me, the Head of Amazon Studios, Jennifer Salke understood the need for this work long before it was popular. She likes to move through the world with the benefit of having a diverse set of perspectives and lived experiences around her, and she wanted to bring that to Amazon Studios.

As a speaker, host, and in-demand moderator, you’ve worked with and have done many things with celebrities, entertainers, and some powerful executives across a broad section of fields. What do you attribute to people wanting to work with you and/or wanting you to be involved with different events?

I think it is because I genuinely see people. I fundamentally believe that everyone has a purpose in life and we all have value. It is my gift as a moderator to bring that out of my subjects in a way that lets audiences see their own purpose and value.

What suggestion would you give anyone who wants to pursue their passion and become successful at what they do in this changing environment?

My suggestion to those who want to pursue their passions and turn them into a career is to release all fear. Make a decision to leave this world without woulda, a coulda, or a shoulda.

Latasha Gillespie Continues to Lead Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Amazon Studios

Leave a Reply

Categories

Verified by MonsterInsights