Disney is becoming ever more committed to onscreen diversity.
The company has appointed Theresa Helmer to spearhead inclusivity at the Disney Channel in a new role.
Here are the details:
- Helmer has been promoted to executive director, integrated content strategy and development at the channel. She will work to “accelerate racial and cultural diversity and inclusion” in programming for kids aged 2–14, according to Deadline, which broke the news.
- In her role, Helmer will collaborate with internal departments at Disney Channel and divisions within it like Disney Television Animation. She will also work with the marketing team to broaden the presence of underrepresented communities in their content.
- After joining Disney in 2014 as a social media analyst for parks and resorts, Helmer was promoted to various executive roles, most recently director of social media strategy in Disney Channel’s marketing group. She also served two years as co-president of The Bond, a volunteer group within Disney that promotes the interests of black consumers and company employees.
- Helmer will report to Gary Marsh, Disney Channels Worldwide’s president and chief creative officer. “Theresa’s unflagging determination, insight and passion have already contributed to enhancing our diversity, inclusion, and belonging efforts,” said Marsh. “In this new role as part of the senior leadership team, she’ll have a seat at the table that will allow her to reinforce further how we can authentically showcase underrepresented populations in our storytelling.”
- Helmer’s appointment reflects a growing tendency in kids’ tv. Researchers at UCLA recently found that 54% of the kids’ shows it studied feature lead characters from underrepresented populations — a higher rate than shows for adults. This Hollywood Reporter feature has more. A recent episode of Disney Channel’s The Owl House revealed that the show’s teen protagonist is bisexual — the Disney Company’s first confirmed-by-its-creator bisexual lead in a television series.
- The Hollywood Reporter quotes Marsh as saying that programming for diverse audiences is “Brand 101.” He adds: “To the extent that I can find content or images that look like [viewers’] homes, their clothing, their recreational activities, their family structures, they will connect more deeply with the content and with the brand.”