Samantha Bee photoshopped into late night Vanity Fair cover of all men

Quote of the Day: Samantha Bee Reveals Secret to Creating a Diverse Staff

The hilarious Samantha Bee — whose new late-night show Full Frontal, the first ever to be hosted by a woman, premiered last night — brings us what I’ll call the Nike Theory of Increasing Diversity: just fucking do it

In sharp contrast to other late night shows, which are seemingly incapable of hiring more than one or two women or people of color, Full Frontal‘s writing room is 50 percent women and 30 percent of color. Bee recently explained her secret:

“In the entertainment industry in particular, there are seminars and … work groups about creating diversity when, really, the fucking thing you have to do is just hire people. It’s not really the most complicated transaction. Find some diverse people and actually give them jobs.”

Yup, we also believe that a commitment to just doing the damn thing is a pretty key first step in building a more diverse workplace — whether writers’ room or publication.

Bee and showerrunner Jo Miller went on to discuss in detail how they adjusted the hiring process to ensure that they got strong applicants beyond the (mostly white male) usual suspects who are already well-established in the comedy world. They set up a blind submission process — with identifying info stripped — to remove the potential for bias, offered detailed application guidelines on how scripts should be formatted so that even newbies unfamiliar with the process would be able to turn in polished apps, and pro-actively reached out for recommendations beyond existing comedy communities.

Perhaps most importantly, they don’t think they’ve done enough. Miller said in particular that their outreach to people of color needs to improve. But they’re committed to being open about their successes and failures to help make the whole media landscape better. “If we find that we’re trying to get women and people of color to apply and no one’s applying, let’s find out why,” Miller tells Vox. “Is it because of a pipeline problem, that people don’t have the skills? Let’s see what we can do about that.” One thing they plan to try: a mentorship program for aspiring comedy writers “who don’t formally have access to this world, who want to be in this world, who have no idea how to get there.”

Header image: @iamsambee

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like,, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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