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November 14, 2019

From the Chairman

Frank Scherma, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

The term inflection point is often just a figure of speech.

But midway through 2020 — in the face of a public health crisis and economic devastation wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic and the impassioned protests against racial bias and police brutality sparked by the killing of George Floyd — there is little doubt that we are experiencing the real thing.

With regard to Covid-19, we are encouraged that television and film production has resumed in many regions in the United States and abroad.

And, as an organization with a significant membership base in California, we see hopeful signs in the announcement that industry professionals in our state are returning to work.

We now have guidelines that we will all be working with, adjusting what we have done in the past and creating a safe environment for all of us to be back on a set. The return to the customary pace and volume of production will take time, but after months of waiting, this is a positive development.

Meanwhile, we share the nation's sadness and outrage over the May 25 killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, while remembering Ahmaud Arbery, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Oscar Grant, Freddie Gray, Breonna Taylor and the countless other members of the Black community whose lives ended violently during encounters with police.

As the protests that began in Minneapolis quickly spread to other U.S. cities and, within days, throughout the world, the Academy joined organizations large and small in explicitly standing against systemic racism and social injustice while restating our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

As the home of talented artists, storytellers and decision-makers in all facets of television, we acknowledged our responsibility to create inclusive stories that empower, inspire and reflect the diversity of our audience.

We also conceded that, despite the best of intentions, we as an organization, and television as an industry, have fallen short of those ideals — and we both must do better.

This is a challenge we accept with humility, because we know we have not risen to the level of racial equality that we should have reached by now. But we accept this with the determination not only to do better, but to do our best. It will take work, but it is work that is long overdue, and we are committed to the task ahead.

We have made many statements on this topic and no doubt will make more, but in the end we will be judged not by what we say, but by what we achieve. To quote novelist Ernest J. Gaines, author of A Lesson Before Dying and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, "Words mean nothing. Action is the only thing. Doing. That's the only thing."

We are ready to do more, and we hope you will join us in our efforts.

Frank Scherma

Chairman and CEO, Television Academy

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