J.J. Abrams on Diversity in Star Wars, Bad Robot: 'I Can't Tell You How Much it's Benefited Our Business'

Filmmaker J.J. Abrams and his wife Katie McGrath examined the production company they founded -- Bad Robot -- and realized it was mostly white. Mostly male. And the duo set out to change how they recruit new employees.

Abrams and McGrath mandated that the pool of people they interview for jobs be more representative of the population. Now over 50 percent of the staff is female and over 40 percent are people of color, according to McGrath. "I can't tell you how much it's benefited our business," said Abrams.


When he was asked to direct "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," Abrams said he felt a responsibility to cast actors who were as diverse as possible. The four leads include someone who is Latinx, a Nigerian-Londoner, a white woman, and one white man. "I'm not preaching, but we'll bring our values as much as we can to a project," said Abrams.

McGrath was one of the founders of the Time's Up movement that started in 2018 after the dethroning of producer Harvey Weinstein rocked Hollywood. She implored an audience comprised largely of white males at The Upfront Summit to do more to improve diversity at their own companies."This is not complicated," said McGrath. "You have tactics for every other business outcome you want to reach, so have one for this."

McGrath noted that by 2050, the U.S. will be a minority-majority country. Not having a workforce that represents the demographics of consumers is bad for business. "You're just going to miss a ton of sh**," she added.

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Amazon is once again postponing Prime Day, the company's annual sales event, due to the coronavirus. Amazon informed sellers of the delay this week, according to reports from Business Insider and CNBC.

Amazon is tentatively targeting the week of Oct. 5 for the holiday.

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Lots happened in the L.A. tech and startup community this week. dot.LA chief host and correspondent Kelly O'Grady takes you through the key stories:

  • Investing: Elementary Robotics Raises $12.7M in Series A, MarsBio Fund Aims to Get Local Biotech Startups to Stay in L.A.
  • Media: Newsology Seeks to Change News Feeds Based on Work Interest, Event Hub Brings Vendor Booths to Virtual Concerts
  • Remote Work: GitLab's Secret to Success, How Office Life Will Change After the Pandemic with HelloOffice

Weekly Recap: L.A. Bets on Biotech, Newsology Takes On Silicon Valley and the Secrets to Remote Work www.youtube.com


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Asian, Black and LatinX tech professionals are more likely to send money to their families than their white counterparts, according to a study by TeamBlind, an anonymous social network of verified employees. The company looked at tech workers' financial obligations and how they spent.

The survey received 2,586 responses from June 25 through June 30 and asked three key questions: 1) Do you send money to your family; 2) As a percentage, how much of your annual salary do you send to your family?; 3) If you send money to your family, do you still have enough money for yourself?

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