A Veteran Screenwriter’s Plot Twist on Hollywood’s DEI Cultural Shift Image

A Veteran Screenwriter’s Plot Twist on Hollywood’s DEI Cultural Shift

By Anonymous | January 15, 2024

An Open Letter from a White Writer to the Film & TV Business

For the last 20 years, I’ve been a working professional screenwriter.

Between 2004 and 2018, I was sent on hundreds of meetings with some of the best studio executives, producers, and directors in the business. I loved it. It was an opportunity to chat with like-minded people who love film, grew up with movies and were making them at the highest level. We’d discuss, ideas, plot characters (and their arcs) and who’s the audience. Maybe chat about sub-text and themes. It felt like an episode of John Favreau’s Dinner For Five. Sometimes you would end up getting work, other times you made a great connection. Everyone was intelligent, film and tv-savvy and had a deep understanding of the business side of the industry.

In 2019 things started to change, and quickly.

WGA Prospective Writer Search Form, Part 1

“’What can we say with this project?’ or ‘What can we teach people with this story?’”

Suddenly, sub-text and themes became the main point of discussing a project or IP. The first question in every meeting became, “What can we say with this project?” or “What can we teach people with this story?” Plot, character and audience were now secondary, and sometimes not even discussed.

These new execs weren’t savvy and business-minded execs; they were young, with no track record or comprehension of the bottom line. When the streaming wars started and the money hose was turned on, those experienced executives started relying on these young guns to pick up the slack. But the kids were less focused on the Hero’s Journey and more concerned with taking down the patriarchy.

Which leads us to the next point. The reality is that for the past five years, white, straight, male writers and directors with experience and successful track records have been sidelined. We talk about it over coffee or after screenings: we’ve essentially been told that because of our race and gender, we need not apply. At one point my agent told me that they couldn’t put me up for any OWAs (open writing assignments) or TV staffing jobs because the execs only wanted to hear takes on the material from BIPOC or female or LGBTQ writers. Some shows even started instituting staffing quotas that 40 to 50 percent of the writing staff had to be people of color.

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  1. […] A Veteran Screenwriter’s Plot Twist on Hollywood’s DEI Cultural Shift […]

  2. Gene Case says:

    These woke “writers” and I shudder to use that word to describe them, don’t have a clue. Their shows, suck. They don’t respect source material and as such, the core fan base abandoned them yet the writers scream… “But the patriarchy. But misogyny. But the (insert favorite phobes here).”

    No. Woke writers are the reason Disney is failing. The reason Star Wars and Marvel are dead. Rings of power? Wheel of Time, The Witcher… All dead shows. All woke writers
    Billions of dollars in value flushed away when they could have been printing their own money with many successful franchises.

    Pale and male = stale is the slogan going around LA writing pools right now. Straight white men are openly discriminated against and that, no matter how much you hate straight white men, is still against the law and I hope someone gets sued in a very public manner.

  3. Abraham Singh Lee says:

    Wokeism is a RELIGION. The religious fanatics pushing the DEI rules, do so because the Woke believe the Marxist thinking, that the world is divided along lines of the oppressed and the oppressors. For the Woke, everything is about POWER, and and they willing to destroy the West to gain more of it. Notice that everything throughout the West (education, quality of life, entertainment, amounts of racism) has gotten worse as the Woke gain more power. Censorship and intolerance is worse than any other time in the last 50+ years.

  4. Omar James says:

    Knowing what we know, how is this not a Federal case? People need to be indicted.

    There are Executives, Lawyers and HR Departments approving and furnishing these documents. These documents are clearly created to profile and discriminate. These people are liable.
    Ever hear of the ACLU? All the info below was pulled from their web site:

    “You cannot be denied a job, promotion, or a raise based on your race, ethnicity, or national origin. You have these rights whether you apply for and interview for a job in person or online, and whether the employer is using traditional or automated systems for hiring or in the workplace.”

    “Examples of illegal discrimination under the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Act include any decision by an employer to refuse to hire or to impose conditions based upon race, ethnicity, or national origin. This also includes taking actions such as setting requirements for hiring which are not actually required to do the work and which exclude people based on race, ethnicity, national origin, or any other protected categories.”
    “An example of racial discrimination in employment, employers may be using automated tools to review job applications, and these tools may evaluate resumes based on information that directly correlates with the job applicant’s race.”
    Clearly a particular policy was adopted, the facts show that the policy is driven by a desire to exclude people of color or sexual orientation, in which case the policy would constitute illegal intentional discrimination.
    Start a new union that represents EVERYONE fairly, then sue the hell out of these executives, their staff and the WGA board members (along with their mouthpiece representatives) that use your own dues to alienate existing members.
    These may have once been well intended ideals, but its gone sideways. No one will prosper nor benefit (culturally or tangibly) in this deconstructive environment.

  5. Skye Knight Dent says:

    I left one comment. Guess you didn’t like it as you didn’t use it.

  6. Skye Knight Dent says:

    I find that comment hard to believe. I’m a Black Choctaw Latina WGA writer. I’ve only had two agents as a writer. Both times whenever I arranged on my own for a producer to read my specs, my agent would send it in with ten unsolicited specs from his white clients. In one case, the recipient showrunner was so pissed at what my agent had done that he tossed all of the scripts in the trash. After a meeting I arranged on my own with Star Trek Voyager, Jeri Taylor and Brannon Braga were kind enough to tell me that my white agent had not sent in my spec as requested. Because I was out of town, I persuaded my brother to break into my apartment, get the spec, and take it to the two Voyager execs. That is how I sold my Voyager scripts. People of color cannot compete with white writers for the simple fact that White people have industry contacts from birth. Pretty sure no star grew up in the projects of Roxbury, Boston aside from Donna Summers. And when I worked on Dirty Sexy Money, I was warned that an Asian employee was so jealous of me being allowed in network meetings that she was spreading negative rumors about me. Because she was small and petite and Asian, she was believed. So instead of believing what jealous writers above are saying, do the math. The only place where blacks are making inroads are if they are a part of the lesbian mafia. Don’t hate me because I’m straight. And stop begruding directors like Jesse Bochco (White) and Kevin Hooks (Black). Both grew up on sets with their famous dads. So they know a lot more just by being there. And I was just a stray ex newspaper journalist when I met Stephen Bochco and he would letters of encouragement. They kept me going. You may have noticed that I named names in ny comments. Most of you above made accusations with no names. So to you no name folks, I say what they used to say in the military, F Em If They Can’t Take A Joke.”

    • Troff says:

      “Star Trek: Voyager”, which ended in 2001 before the DEI train went full steam ahead. Similar, Dirty Sexy Money which ended in 2009. The article above is still believable.

      • Blacklisted and Bullied says:

        What is the DEI train? Sorry. I stopped trying to remember years after my teenage brother Clayton was murdered by the Boston Police and they came to the funeral to threaten us if we filed a complaint. I do not use years because age is another excuse to discriminate. But you can call Mt. Hope Cemetery and ask about what is written on the headstones of Clayton n Alfred Dent for proof. Wait till you’re over 30. If you want to work sweetie and you are not white, you’ll forget your age too. Smile.

        • Bean Counter says:

          Your rant is so all over the place and so incoherent that it makes it hard to believe that you can narrate a story.

  7. Will says:

    I’m very happy white collaborators are feeling the running their suicidal hypocrisy.

  8. […] boxes” to identify themselves so that this data may be used in the hiring process. A recent open letter to the Writers Guild of America, written by a WGA member, is saying out loud what so many in the industry fear to say. And that is […]

  9. Reading Comprehension Matters says:

    The writer isn’t “bolstering his thesis” as the Facts Matter person says. This is his anecdotal experience working directing in the industry and the changes he and his colleagues have seen first hand. We’ve seen the hiring quotas by these studios. You’re telling people to not believe the writer and also to not believe what the studios are explicitly stating they are doing and what we are seeing from the outside? More and more gaslighting from these people.

  10. Zendo Deb says:

    Someone needs to come forward – not anonymously – and make a legal stink. You CANNOT discriminate on the basis of race, or gender, or religion, or national origin.

    • Alcarnique says:

      That is why they have changed the definition of things like racism and discrimination. You cannot be discriminatory against white people, only discriminatory in favour of them.

  11. Plathismo says:

    You reap what you sow, guys.

  12. […] who notes he has 20 years of experience in Hollywood, wrote a letter that was published in Film Threat that details what has been happening in […]

  13. Zipp says:

    I’m not in the film industry, just a consumer. This helps explain why movie / tv is currently so bad and why I do not spend any $$$ for it. Good luck keeping this grift going with no money.

  14. Charles A Brehm says:

    No shock at all. It seems like I watch more foreign films and television series than American-made. In reality there are only a handful of American Television series I follow and some of those suffer eye rolls and groans. I think the quality of writers has declined and quality writers have declined as well. Perhaps my boomer age makes me more critical, but I figure on a couple more decades of critique.

  15. Charlayne Denney says:

    This stuff reminds me of a movie from 1976 called “The Front.” Zero Mostel was playing a screenwriter who was caught up in the McCarthy Communist Hunt and was banned from doing writing. He asks Woody Allen’s character to sign the screenplays and take the credit so he could work. It’s an important movie about that era and we’re seeing it played out again. The hiring of everyone but the straight, white male is blacklisting those writers. Maybe it’s time to front some work so you can make a living despite this stuff. It’s just another McCarthy -like witch hunt.

    • Facts Matter says:

      This is garbage. Look at the data. It shows that there has not been an increase in hiring non-white men in writing or directing. Look at the top 100 films in the US. How many of those films were written and/or directed by white men? The majority. It’s interesting to see that no one demands that facts be presented to justify a position https://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/hollywood-diversity-report-spring-2023-movie-industry

      • Cee Dee says:

        He’s talking about TV, your lack of intelligence is embarrassing. Possible read the article first.

      • Christopher Nuzzi says:

        You need to brush up on your reading comprehension. He stated that the top 2% or so of creatives have not been affected. This is about the working writers whose names you do not necessarily know but who do the bulk of writing work in Hollywood. And what “Top 100” films are you referring to? The top 100 of all time? Of last year? In any case, your example proves one thing for certain: that the top films were written or directed by white men. I’m guessing you didn’t realize that you made that point.

      • inyourface says:

        To the person with the source from UCLA. LMAO!!! your source is from a university based in California. We’re suppose to believe that’s a legit study. LOL!!!!

  16. Selvir Katich (Narrative Arcade) says:

    Thank you for this. I got into screenwriting because it was objective and it didn’t matter who I was or where I came from. Now that’s all there is to it. English is my third language, and I practiced screenwriting until it was on a native level. Reducing writers to a checkbox is utterly insulting. I’ve also noticed that feedback from screenwriting competitions has degraded as well. Prior to 2020 I used to get mostly very actionable feedback. Even if the reader didn’t get a joke, they tried to improve and make it work. Now, I sometimes get nothing but moral lecturing about what not to put in a screenplay. I have never received such useless feedback before 2020. I decided to use everything I learned and launch a YouTube channel instead. There are venues for newcomers because I don’t think there will be a shift until the whole house of cards collapses.

    • Facts Matter says:

      Nowhere in the article does the author provide any sources to bolster his thesis. Instead, it’s all about anecdotes. How hard would have been for the author to google the top 1000 films of 2022 or 2023 to examine who were the writers and directors. But an examination of that data paints a very different picture: https://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/hollywood-diversity-report-spring-2023-movie-industry

      • Facts matter? So does reading comprehension. says:

        To the “Facts Matter” person who said “This is garbage. Look at the data. It shows that there has not been an increase in hiring non-white men in writing or directing. Look at the top 100 films in the US.” Your mind was either made up before you read the article and rushed to comment without reading it, or your reading comprehension is garbage which might be why you have the opinions you do. In the beginning of the article, the writer clearly says “Well, this doesn’t impact the top 2% of writers, showrunners, and directors since they’re in the rarified air where they get work no matter what.” They’re talking about jobs below the top 2%, especially in tv. You must think the majority of writing and directing jobs in Hollywood are for the top 100 films. They aren’t.

  17. Francis Manzo says:

    During the writers strike it was mentioned that writers make on average $16,000 a year. Not enough to live on. That tells me that there’s too many writers chasing too few work assignments. Probably need a 70% shake-out to right the ship, especially with AI and more foreign talent/films coming in to play.

  18. Lydecker says:

    I can attest to this. When I was looking to switch agents back in 2018, I was told by two separate reps, point blank, that, despite liking my samples, they just couldn’t sign another young, white male writer. Now, seeing the mandates post-strike from the various companies/studios around town, they’re making no secret of their disdain for guys like me…not to mention the audience at large. With these young, well-indoctrinated yet know-nothing CE’s, I don’t know how the business ever recovers because those that do know their film history and storytelling craft are either going with the ideological flow to keep their gigs or leaving the industry completely. Frightening times.

  19. Doug Mayfield says:

    When ideology replaces talent and ability acquired through hard work and study, the results are disastrous for any industry, particularly something as complex as story telling.

  20. Kevin says:

    I don’t know what it is about the Hollywood culture that is so inherently hateful. Maybe it’s due to it’s roots in vaudeville but it seems that Hollywood has to hate at least one group of people and now that they can’t portray black and Hispanic characters offensively they’ll just declare war on white people. Hollywood seems structurally incapable of just treating everyone with respect.

  21. Brian Hogan says:

    Please, please, please recognize that this is done to pacify white people with money, so that white people with even more money can have wars, to make even more money.

  22. Thomas Blow says:

    From what I can tell, I have been discriminated against for several decades. Playwrights have had production opportunities entirely limited by “competitions” in which age, gender, and race have been published requirements, and mine never met their requirements. In addition to this I wrote a period musical on the origin of the Statue Of Liberty and the Idea Of Liberty which by various means I have been told is non grata (see https://mainstreetmusicals.org/archives/liberty/index.shtml) due to content, which reflected the historical ideas of the designers though partly fictionalized. So I suppose since I have endured this discrimination for 50 years I am now a sort of poster child for this discrimination which should IMO be made illegal if it is not already unconstitutional. Nevertheless I am hoping some brave film producer will see there is a large, untapped audience for this work in particular and will contact me through this website. I ask those who don’t support DEI/ESG in the film industry to consider forwarding my request to others using any potential anon backchannel available. It would only be by making inroads that DEI/ESG domination of the industry can be effectively fought. I think when you invest man years upon man years of work and generate what your instincts and those of others tell you is a real masterpiece, it is more than a disappointment, it is the type of disaster one should not have endured in “America, the land of opportunity” and “The land of the Free”. I think any real Artist appreciates this. If there is a second American Revolution going on right now, bring it on, because otherwise we are going to see interminable 1984 reruns that reflect the last reel of The Red Violin.

  23. Dougie Brimson says:

    YES!!!!!! This 100% and it’s just as bad in the UK If you’re a white, working class male, even one with a solid track record, you have as much chance of getting something green lit as you have of winning the lottery twice. Indeed, I know experienced writers who have actually added a co-writer from a DOI group to their project purely so that it enables them to tick one or two boxes and enhance their chances of securing a meeting.

    • Kevin says:

      The crazy thing is that the UK is like 85% white people too. At least in the US white people are only about half the population, not that even matters. It’s just weird that 15% of a population could brainwash the other 85% into suppressing itself.

      • Dougie Brimson says:

        Sadly, it isn’t just screenwriting impacted by this bias in the UK. The dreaded Diversity, equity, and inclusion (usually abbreviated DEI) system ensures that over representation in pretty much very sphere of society is rampant.

        Thankfully, there seems to be signs that the nation is finally fighting back against this madness.

  24. Wisdom Moon says:

    Based on the terrible movies and shows that have been produced in the past few years, I thought that there were no talented writers in Hollywood any more; that seemed unlikely, and this article explains why. Good, qualified writers simply aren’t being hired – everything that identity politics touches turns to s**t. If this continues, how can the industry survive?

  25. The Nerd Far Away says:

    Wow. Everyone should see this.

  26. Ho Ci-Min says:

    China will have something to say about a distinct Taiwanese ethnicity.

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