Earlier this year, Amber Ruffin was hired to write for Seth Meyers’ Late Night. This was very significant because she is the first woman of color to write for a network late night show, ever. That’s right, ever.
The state of the TV writing industry is not very diverse, you see, if hiring a black woman writer makes headlines.
Luckily, the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) proposed legislation that would make New York the first state to incentivize the diversifying of television writing rooms. Prominent writers (Jenny Lumet, Yamin Segal, Courtney Simon, etc.) acted as representatives and met with lawmakers to discuss how allocating $3.5 million from the state’s budgeted $420 million production tax credit would bring jobs to New York. Currently, the “state tax credit does not include the salaries of the people who write the shows.”
The proposed bills “would modify the existing production state tax credit, so that certain New York writing income would qualify as an eligible expense. A company would have to employ women or people of color, and a portion of their New York salaries would qualify for the credit, which hasn’t been the case previously. It’s capped at $50,000 per writer, and an overall expenditure of $3.5 million a year.”
As you can tell, $3.5 million out of an already set budget of $420 million is not much, but it is saying something.
Lowell Paterson, Executive Director of the WGAE, says: “We brought an extraordinary group of women and people of color who, despite their enormous writing talent, find it virtually impossible to secure writing jobs in New York and face immense pressure to move their families, and their stories, out of the state.”
Investing in the careers of women, people of color, and women of color will not only help rework the system to prevent against any future discrimination , but it will also lead to greater representation on television shows.
The bills are expected to come to a floor vote next week. Let’s hope for the best!
Photo via Instagram, Amber Ruffin's Facebook.