Veteran writer and ‘Sparkle’ producer Debra Martin Chase just signed a two-year deal with ABC Studios to help develop series projects for the network, an effort that could add more much-needed diversity to the network.
The deal brings Chase back to ABC where she started her TV career as executive producer on the hit 1997 musical film Cinderella starring Brandy and Whitney Houston. She kept her close ties to the Disney Co. with two hit franchises, The Princess Diaries on the feature side and The Cheetah Girls TV movies on Disney Channel. She also executive produced the successful Disney Channel movie Lemonade Mouth and the ABC Family musical Elixir.
The deal means Martin Chase is the latest black woman to score a major deal with the networks and means she can seek and develop a host of show, perhaps including black women.
Earlier this year, NBC named Pearlena Igbokwe to be the Executive Vice President of Drama Programming, and ‘Girlfriends’ creator Mara Brock-Akil inked a “mega-deal” with BET to produce several original pilots for the network. Add to that Shonda Rhimes’ hit ABC show ‘Scandal’ and it’s shaping up to be a very interesting year for black women in the TV industry.
But will the rise of black executives mean more on-screen diversity or will networks continue will business as usual? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.