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TCA: ABC’s Lee Touts Diversity On and Off-Screen

Beverly Hills, Calif. — The onscreen diversity in ABC’s new fall series is an offshoot of the network’s efforts to mirror an evolving audience, according to ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee.

“It is a mission statement to reflect America. That’s our job,” Lee said Tuesday at ABC’s TCA summer press tour executive session. “And in a way it’s not so much diversity as authenticity."

Lee talked, as he did at the network’s upfront presentation in May, about the network’s strategy of singling out creators and approaching them to launch projects. He pointed to American Crime creator John Ridley, the Oscar-winning writer of 12 Years a Slave, as an example of the quality of creators the network has been able to attract. At the beginning of his session, Lee announced that ABC had that morning finalized an overall television deal with Ridley, whom he called “an extraordinary showrunner.”

Recent years have seen a dramatic dearth of series with primarily minority casts across all of broadcast. Next season, ABC will have three such series in new comedies Black-ishCristela and Fresh Off the Boat, as well a broadly diverse casts in American Crime and the Shonda Rhimes-produced How to Get Away With Murder.

Asked what the “tipping point” was that led to this season’s influx of diversity, Lee said, “Let’s not pretend we’re there yet. I think we’ve taken a very big step along that journey.” 

Read more at B&Chere.