WarnerMedia today unveiled a company-wide policy outlining its commitment to diversity and inclusion in front of and behind the camera. Just Mercy, a Warner Bros. Pictures release directed by Destin Daniel Cretton and starring Michael B. Jordan, is the first production to fall under this policy. Jordan, who serves as an executive producer on the film, and his agent Phillip Sun at WME, helped WarnerMedia launch this policy. Production begins this week in Atlanta.
The Diversity and Inclusion policy statement reads:
WarnerMedia companies, Warner Bros., HBO and Turner, have long been committed to diversity and inclusion as moral and business imperatives. It is essential that our content and creative partners reflect the diversity of our society and the world around us. Together with other production companies, networks, guilds, unions, talent agencies and others in the industry, we all must ensure there is greater inclusion of women, people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, those with disabilities and other underrepresented groups in greater numbers both in front of and behind the camera.
For our part, WarnerMedia pledges to use our best efforts to ensure that diverse actors and crew members are considered for film, television and other projects, and to work with directors and producers who also seek to promote greater diversity and inclusion in our industry. To that end, in the early stages of the production process, we will engage with our writers, producers and directors to create a plan for implementing this commitment to diversity and inclusion on our projects, with the goal of providing opportunities for individuals from under-represented groups at all levels. And, we will issue an annual report on our progress.
The companies of WarnerMedia have a historic and proven commitment to diversity and inclusion. But there is much more we can do, and we believe real progress can be made in the industry. We will work with our partners in the entertainment community to make this commitment a reality.
“I’m proud that Warner Bros. and our sister companies, HBO and Turner, are willing to state unequivocally that this is where we stand on diversity and inclusion. Our policy commits us to taking concrete action to further our goals, to measure the outcomes and to share the results publicly,” said Kevin Tsujihara, Chairman and CEO, Warner Bros. “I’m also thrilled that we were able to work with Michael B. Jordan to craft a meaningful policy and framework that will apply to all of our productions, across all of our divisions, going forward.”
“Inclusivity has always been a no-brainer for me, especially as a black man in this business. It wasn’t until Frances McDormand spoke the two words that set the industry on fire — inclusion rider — that I realized we could standardize this practice. It allowed me to formally pledge my production company, Outlier Society, to a way of doing business,” said actor, producer and CEO of Outlier Society, Michael B. Jordan. “The WarnerMedia family has introduced an approach that accomplishes our shared objectives, and I applaud them for taking this enormous step forward. I’m proud that our film, ‘Just Mercy,’ will be the first to formally represent the future we have been working toward, together. This is a legacy-bearing moment.”
“The core values of the WarnerMedia companies are built on doing innovative work in a manner that respects our creative partners, their aspirations and their individuality,” said WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey. “I am proud of the progress that the leaders of our businesses have made, and we believe this is the next logical step to improve our content and cement our leadership in contributing to positive change in the industry.”
Warner Bros. Pictures’ inspiring drama Just Mercy is based on the award-winning nonfiction bestseller by Bryan Stevenson. The film stars Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther, Creed, upcoming Creed II) and Oscar winners Jamie Foxx (Ray, Baby Driver, Django: Unchained) and Brie Larson (Room, The Glass Castle, upcoming Captain Marvel). Award-winning filmmaker Destin Daniel Cretton (The Glass Castle, Short Term 12) is directing Just Mercy.
A powerful and thought-provoking true story, Just Mercy follows young lawyer Bryan Stevenson (Jordan) and his history-making battle for justice. After graduating from Harvard, Bryan might have had his pick of lucrative jobs. Instead, he heads to Alabama to defend those wrongly condemned, with the support of local advocate Eva Ansley (Larson). One of his first, and most incendiary, cases is that of Walter McMillian (Foxx), who, in 1987, was sentenced to die for the notorious murder of an 18-year-old girl, despite a preponderance of evidence proving his innocence and the fact that the only testimony against him came from a criminal with a motive to lie. In the years that follow, Bryan becomes embroiled in a labyrinth of legal and political maneuverings and overt and unabashed racism as he fights for Walter, and others like him, with the odds—and the system—stacked against them.
The film is being produced by two-time Oscar nominee Gil Netter (Life of Pi, The Blind Side) and Asher Goldstein (Short Term 12), with Mike Drake, Michael B. Jordan, Bryan Stevenson, Gabriel Hammond, Daniel Hammond and Niija Kuykendall serving as executive producers. Cretton is helming the film from a screenplay he co-wrote with Andrew Lanham (The Glass Castle), based on Stevenson’s book Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption.
The main cast also includes O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Straight Outta Compton) as Anthony Ray Hinton, another wrongly convicted death row inmate whose cause is taken up by Bryan; Rob Morgan (Mudbound) as Herbert Richardson, who also sits on death row awaiting his fate; and Tim Blake Nelson (Wormwood) as Ralph Myers, whose pivotal testimony against Walter McMillian is called into question.
Just Mercy is being shot almost entirely on location in and around Atlanta, Georgia, with a few scenes also filmed in Montgomery, Alabama. The film is slated for release on January 17, 2020.