Several blocks over from the Hollywood walk of fame, hundreds spilled onto the sidewalk outside Netflix’s Vine office to protest the company’s defense of Dave Chappelle’s anti-trans comedy special The Closer, reports The Hollywood Reporter. The demonstration was in solidarity with Netflix’s trans employees who walked out of the company Wednesday morning.
The protests were triggered, in part, by the firing of B. Pagels-Minor, the former Netflix employee accused of leaking confidential information about The Closer, including how much Chappelle was paid ($24.1 million). Pagels-Minor was the leader of the Netflix Trans* employee resource group before their firing and denied leaking the internal memo.
“As most of you know, I’m 33 weeks pregnant. And when I thought about why I was participating in, it’s that my son does not grow up with content that hates me,” Pagels-Minor said to The Hollywood Reporter. “I want my child to grow up in a world where they see that their parent, a Black trans person — because I exist, contrary to what the special says, contrary to what many people say — that I am valued and I am an important person as well.”
The Team Trans* Walkout released a “list of asks” that the group will present to Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos. Yesterday, Sarandos said he “screwed up” by not leading “with a lot more humanity,” when people voiced their opposition with the comedy special the streamer spent millions on.
Per Deadline, Here is the list of asks:
- Eliminate references/imagery of Chappelle inside of the workplace, including but not limited to murals, posters, room names, swag;
- Acknowledgment that the special causes harm to the trans community and Netflix’s responsibility on it, so we keep the conversation around transphobia evolving internally;
- Trans and non-binary content investment
- A new fund to specifically develop trans and non-binary talent
- Investment in trans or non-binary content on Netflix is comparable to our total investment in transphobic content, including comparable investment in the promotion of content
- The comparable class of investments should include but not be limited to works produced by Dave Chappelle (such as the investment in The Closer and Sticks And Stones), Ricky Gervais’ After Life, etc.
- Investment in multiple trans creators to make both scripted and unscripted programs across genres;
- Revisit internal processes on commissioning and/or releasing potential harmful content, involving numerous and diverse parties that can speak on its harm, including consultation on 3rd party vendors;
- Revisit the ERG role in conversations around potential harmful content and develop materials to ensure we have the best in class regional support on complicated diversity issues
- Hire transgender content executives in leading positions and promote an inclusive environment for them;
- Recruit trans people for leadership roles in the company (director, VP, etc.) and promote an inclusive environment for them;
- The ability for Trans* employees and allies to be able to remove themselves from company promotional content (e.g., allyship videos, etc.);
- A disclaimer before The Closer specifically saying it contains transphobic language, misogyny, homophobia, and hate speech;
- Boost promotion for Disclosure and other trans-affirming titles in the platform
Stars of Netflix programming and abroad voiced solidarity with the walkout.
For example, The Umbrella Academy’s Elliot Page tweeted, “I stand with the trans, nonbinary, and BIPOC employees at Netflix fighting for more and better trans stories and a more inclusive workplace.”
Schitt’s Creek co-creator and star Dan Levy also voiced his support online. Levy, who signed a deal with Netflix last month, said he stands with “every employee at Netflix using their voice to ensure a safe and supportive work environment.” He continued, “Transphobia is unacceptable and harmful. That isn’t a debate.”
Others, like Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness, Pose’s Angelica Ross, and The Good Place’s Jameela Jamil, appeared in a video by journalist Ashlee Marie Preston, who organized the rally in support of the walkout.
Transparent creator Joey Soloway appeared at the rally, criticizing Netflix and calling The Closer “gender violence.”
“This is gender violence. Sharing his outrage as comedic humiliation in front of thousands of people, and then broadcasting it to hundreds of millions of people, is infinitely amplified gender violence,” said Soloway. “I want trans representation on the Netflix board. A trans person on the fucking Netflix board this fucking week.”