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CBS names Ducksworth to lead NAACP partnership for more diverse TV

Sheila Ducksworth has been appointed head of a CBS/NAACP partnership.
(CBS)

CBS Studios and the NAACP named Sheila Ducksworth to lead their partnership focused on creating more inclusive programming.

Native New Yorker Ducksworth will oversee the development and production of scripted, unscripted and documentary content for broadcast, streaming and cable platforms, CBS said Tuesday. The former Will Packer Media executive, who was involved in producing “Night School” for NBC, will assume her new role on Nov. 9.

Ducksworth, a Yale graduate and industry veteran, will lead a joint venture focused on elevating Black artists in front of and behind the camera. The partnership was formed in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests and promises by Hollywood to improve representation.

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“We are excited to draw upon her leadership and experience to establish a production venture that is committed to telling compelling, inclusive stories, while expanding the range of creative voices that bring these stories to the screen,” George Cheeks, president and chief executive of CBS’ entertainment group, said in a statement.

CBS Television Studios and the NAACP in July announced a multiyear agreement to develop and produce scripted and unscripted programming in addition to documentary programming. Those shows will be available for sale to other studios.

The studio pledged to work with the civil rights organization to create a dedicated team of executives and infrastructure to acquire, develop and produce TV content.

“Together, we have the opportunity to create and distribute truly groundbreaking content that speaks to the Black experience,” said Derrick Johnson, president and chief executive of the NAACP in a statement Tuesday.

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Hollywood has worked to increase diversity in its lowers ranks. But the top writing jobs in film and TV still largely go to white men.

CBS committed earlier this summer to improve diversity among its writers and to having at least 40% of its writers to be Black, Indigenous or people of color by the 2021-22 broadcast season. It also has pegged 25% of its future script-development money to projects with BIPOC creators or producers, the network said in July.

The studio said it would add writers of color on select CBS series for the 2020-21 broadcast season and that by 2022-23 broadcast season half of all writers will be nonwhite.

While at Will Packer Media, Ducksworth also served as executive producer on Lifetime’s upcoming Wendy Williams biopic and the Will Packer Media’s OWN series “Ambitions.” Under her own production banner, she produced the 2013 Showtime documentary “Why We Laugh: Funny Women” with comedy legend Joan Rivers and served as a producer on Showtime drama series “Soul Food” for its five-season run.

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“My career has always focused on telling captivating and compelling stories while increasing representation in front of and behind the camera, and this new venture is an opportunity to continue that mission in a dynamic way” Ducksworth said.


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