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    Posted on Jun 22, 2017

    New York Is Close To Financially Rewarding TV Shows That Make Diversity A Priority Behind The Camera

    The state is one step closer to giving a tax credit of up to $5 million to productions that hire minorities and women as writers and directors.

    The New York state legislature has passed a bill that lays the groundwork to provide a tax credit of up to $5 million to television productions that hire writers and directors who are women and/or people of color.

    Jojo Whilden/Netflix

    Shows that film in New York — like NBC's Law and Order: SVU, ABC's Quantico, FX's The Americans, Netflix's Orange Is the New Black, Starz's Power, and TV Land's Younger — would be financially rewarded under the scheme because of their diverse staffs behind the camera.

    Matthias Clamer/FX, TV Land

    An almost identical bill is being drafted in the California legislature right now as well.

    The bill, which needs a signature from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and an appropriation into the state budget to become law, was backed by the Writers Guild of America and the Directors Guild of America.

    Myles Aronowitz / Starz Entertainment, LLC

    House of Cards showrunner Beau Willimon and The Rundown With Robin Thede host Robin Thede are a couple of the creative voices who have helped fight for the bill. "This bill just levels the playing field for incredibly qualified and talented creatives," Thede told BuzzFeed News in a statement.

    Island Boi Photography / Via WGA

    Here's Thede's full statement: “This is a tremendous victory for not only women and people of color in entertainment, but also for New York State and our industry as a whole. Diversity behind the camera is just as important (and profitable!) as in front of the camera and, right now, we can't get in the same rooms as everyone else. This bill just levels the playing field for incredibly qualified and talented creatives. While we aren't fully celebrating until Governor Cuomo signs the bill and allocates the funds in the budget, we are so grateful to Senator Alcántara, Assemblymember Crespo and the countless other advocates on both sides of the aisle who worked hard to finally get this bill passed!”

    "People in the TV industry have understood for years that enhancing the diversity of writing and directing improves the stories that appear on screen," Lowell Peterson, executive director of the Writers Guild of America East, said in a statement. "The missing link for policymakers has been putting money at the point of hire, and this legislation is an important step in that direction."

    Nicholas Hunt / Getty Images

    Neil Dudich, executive director of the Directors Guild of America East, also released a statement: "For years the DGA has pushed the industry to change their imbalanced hiring practices — so that talent, and talent alone, is the defining factor. By encouraging studios, networks and producers to discover the talented New York TV directors and writers that are out there in abundance, this bill can be a meaningful step forward in establishing a level playing field for all."

    Two Latino state politicians, state Sen. Marisol Alcántara and Assemblymember Marcos Crespo, sponsored the bill. Alcántara told BuzzFeed News why she felt compelled to fight for it in a statement below:

    Marisol Alcántara / Via Twitter: @ny31alcantara, NY Assembly / Via

    “I initially became interested in this bill because as an Afro-Latina immigrant, I knew what it felt like to grow up feeling invisible in American culture. It was so rare to see a character of color on television, and when you did see one, it felt like they were tokenized, stereotyped, or killed off quickly," she said. "And while the industry has made some strides on representation in front of the camera, diversity behind the camera is still sorely lacking. I think the overall quality of television, the different kinds of stories that can be told, the overall landscape of the art form will benefit greatly from having opportunities for diverse people to tell their stories. It was a tough battle, but I stuck with the bill because of the future generations of talented women and people of color who would otherwise remain undiscovered, and the inspiration their stories could bring to countless young people and immigrants like myself."

    BuzzFeed News also reached out to representatives for Assemblymember Crespo for a statement.

    A representative for Gov. Cuomo told BuzzFeed News that the bill has not yet reached the governor’s desk, but that it is under review.

    Spencer Platt / Getty Images

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