On July 10th, FOX Audience Strategy partnered with GLAAD and the most senior, cross-divisional leadership across the 21st Century Fox entertainment businesses to welcome employees and guests to New York Street on the Fox Lot for the latest installment in Images: The Power to Inform, Influence and Inspire, a year-long speaker series designed to explore and highlight cultural and creative trends, current events, and people who are shifting perceptions and spurring creative innovation. The most recent event included a provocative and inspiring conversation about media representations of the LGBT community and its allies, and a celebration of LGBT-inspired stories and characters, and the storytellers and actors who bring them to life.
Hernan Lopez, FOX International Channels President and GLAAD Board Member, kicked off the evening with opening remarks and introduced Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President and CEO. Sarah Kate spoke about Fox’s high marks among broadcast networks in GLAAD’s Network Responsibility Index (last year, FOX ranked first, with 42% of its primetime programming being LGBT-inclusive), and also gave a preview of the company’s strong scores in this year’s rankings.
A lively and wide-ranging panel discussion followed, featuring actors Taraji P. Henson and Jussie Smollett from the upcoming FOX series Empire, Executive Producer Margaret Nagle and actor/GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz from the upcoming Red Band Society, Executive Producer Dante Di Lorento from Glee and American Horror Story, and former NFL player and LGBT sports advocate Wade Davis from the You Can Play Project, all led in conversation by Joe Earley, Fox Broadcasting Company Chief Operating Officer.
Some highlights of the panel session included Taraji P. Henson discussing her Empire character’s relationship with her gay son (played by Jussie Smollett) and the importance of portraying an example of acceptance; Wade Davis expressing his thoughts on why eliminating homophobia in sports is also reliant on also eliminating sexism; Dante Di Lorento, Wilson Cruz, and Margaret Nagle sharing their first-hand experiences with fans of shows like My So Called Life and Glee, and what they have meant to LGBT youth who would have otherwise felt hopeless and alone.
After the panel, guests spilled into the New York Street and enjoyed a festive block party complete with roaming busker, live DJ’s, fun photo opportunities, food trucks and more. Thanks to all who came out to acknowledge, applaud and encourage the many efforts toward increased LGBT inclusion in film and television.