Fox Pride, a 21CF Colleague Network and Resource Group (CNRG), recently hosted an LGBTQ speaker series as part of its June celebration of Pride Month. The executive panel discussion, which was held at the Zanuck Theatre on the Fox lot in Los Angeles, featured Darren Schillace, EVP of Marketing at FOX Broadcasting Company; Julie Rieger, President, Chief Data Strategist and Head of Media for 20th Century Fox Film; Charlie Andrews, EVP of Drama Programming, Development and Event Series at FOX Broadcasting Company; Sally Daws, EVP of Advertising, Strategy and Digital at FX Networks; and was moderated by Schawn Belston, EVP of Media and Library Services for 20th Century Fox Film.
The participating executives shared personal and professional experiences of being out in the workplace, along with various stories about mentorship and the importance of being authentic. The following quotes capture a few key highlights of the panel discussion.
Mentorship: “I’ve worked for exceptional men, I’ve worked for exceptional women. I’ll tell you what is so interesting: What I’ve found is the ones that enabled me to soar, the ones that gave me wings, are the ones who have dealt with being some sort of minority themselves,” said Rieger.
“Mentors have been mostly bosses who let me be me, let me speak up in a meeting, let me have an opinion,” Schillace added.
Being open: “When you’re trying to work with writers and you’re working in development, you tell so many of your own life stories and experiences, and it’s a massive part of how we cook up ideas together,” Andrews said. “I think if you’re not open and you’re not who you are authentically, people feel that and won’t connect with you as much. In my job, living that way and being super open about every aspect of my life helps in what I do in a major way.”
Rieger shared a story of being fired from her job in Houston back in 1994 after writing a letter to the editor of a newspaper about the killing of a young gay man (which was published) and sending a letter of support to the man’s family. She chose to move to San Francisco to seek a more open and inclusive community; and while living there, received a letter from the man’s family expressing gratitude for her support.
“I would do that moment of my life over and over again a thousand times,” she said. “Because that’s what it’s like to be gay. You stand up, you say what you need to say, you be who you are and know [what] whatever happens, that you might end up on this stage one day. If that never happened, I wouldn’t be sitting here in front of you.”
Change: Schillace recounted his experience watching “Love, Simon” in a theater with a group of teenagers who were relating to what they saw on the screen. “I was in awe of it,” he said. Adding that he thinks it’s great that he can now point to so many great examples of storytelling when he meets someone who is questioning and struggling.
Responsibility: Daws expressed the importance of being visible and “one person,” which she considers to be her endeavor and responsibility. “That visibility and that voice that you have extends into what you do. We’re in positions where we can bring it into the workplace, we can bring it into championing ideas that can change people’s minds,” she said.
The executive panel was part of a monthlong series of activities celebrating Pride Month, including:
“Retrospective Film Series”: Colleague screenings and Q&A
Fox Pride hosted a couple of retrospective film screenings during the month, including one for “Kissing Jessica Stein” followed by a Q&A with director Charles Herman-Wurmfeld; and one for “Boys Don’t Cry” followed by a discussion with director and advocate Kimberly Pierce. (Both films were originally distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures.)
Supporting services for LGBTQ youth
As part of 21CF Impact Week, 21CF invited nearly 200 NYC-high school students to a special screening of “Love, Simon,” followed by a Trevor Project-led Q&A panel and lunchtime discussion with 21CF volunteers. 21CF was also a presenting sponsor at TrevorLIVE, The Trevor Project’s annual fundraising celebration, to support the nonprofit’s lifesaving programs for LGBTQ youth. The company launched the #LoveSimonTruthcampaign to encourage audiences to share their own truths–for every post on social media that used the hashtag, 21CF donated $1 to The Trevor Project, for a total of $150,000.
Colleague and community events
Colleagues joined together to also celebrate Pride Month by participating in LA Pride Parade, DC Capital Pride Alliance and NYC Pride March; attending mixers and networking events; and volunteering in activities to support the LGBTQ community, youth homeless, and suicide prevention and transgender wellness. Pride CNRG further demonstrated its strong solidarity with colleagues, allies and the community by “rainbowizing” the Fox lot in June.
Fox Pride’s mission is to cultivate community among 21CF’s LGBTQ colleagues and allies, support causes important to the LGBTQ community, and foster a work environment where all 21CF’s LGBTQ colleagues feel authentic and professionally supported.