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THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS

Lessons on building an inclusive culture from the writers’ room of HBO’s “Watchmen”

Regina King as Sister Night in HBO's Watchmen
HBO
  • Sarah Todd
By Sarah Todd

Senior reporter, Quartz and Quartz at Work

Countless organizations are newly engaging with the question of how to have meaningful conversations about race. But for Cord Jefferson, a TV writer on HBO’s critically-acclaimed superhero series Watchmen, lengthy discussions about topics like police brutality and the history of Black Wall Street were all in a day’s work.

“We had a lot of third-rail issues like reparations, racial violence, sexual violence,” Jefferson says. “These are things people have strong opinions about, for good reason.”

In general, TV writers’ rooms are overwhelmingly white: As of 2017, two-thirds of shows had no Black writers at all, according to a report by the racial justice advocacy group Color of Change. But Jefferson says he’s been fortunate to work in several highly diverse writers’ rooms: at Watchmen, HBO’s Succession, NBC’s metaphysical sitcom The Good Place, and Comedy Central’s The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore.

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