According to Variety, Latondra Newton has served as Disney’s chief diversity officer since 2017, and an internal memo from Disney’s chief human resources officer Sonia Coleman announced Newton’s departure to staff on Tuesday.
The letter obtained by the outlet stated that Newton, “…decided to leave The Walt Disney Company to pursue other endeavors.”
Coleman continued, “Latondra has led the company’s strategic diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, including partnering with stakeholders across the enterprise to amplify stories of the world by people around the world. She has been dedicated to ensuring every person sees themselves and their life experiences represented in a meaningful and authentic way.”
“I know you all join me in thanking Latondra for her many contributions, including the lasting impact she has had on our employees and our culture,” Coleman added. “Working alongside all of you and so many others, she has inspired countless cast members and employees to bring about lasting change and to help create a world where we can all feel safe and we all belong.”
According to the memo, “Latondra’s direct reports will report to Julie Merges on an interim basis until a new DEI leader is identified.”
Variety reported that Newton plans “…to join a corporate board and focus on a creative company she owns.”
Disney’s latest release, Elemental, tanked at the box office its opening weekend and is on track to be one of the lowest premiers for the company since the late 1990s.
Elemental earned an estimated $29.6 million over the three-day June 16 weekend, which marks the lowest weekend premiere for a Pixar title since Toy Story’s release in 1995, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The film was hyped as having Disney’s first-ever non-binary character Lake Ripple, voiced by Ava Hauser, who identifies as non-binary.
The studio’s The Little Mermaid race-swapped reboot, starring black actress Halle Bailey as the main character Ariel, is on track to flop in China, a major market for Hollywood. "The film is likely to be Disney's worst-performing Chinese release this year," and has only earned $13,000 in pre-sales, according to Comic Book Resources.
The Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB) site announced that it had to use a different weighting system in rating the movie due to "unusual activity" following poor reviews.
The bombs follow the failure of 2022’s Lightyear, which grossed $118,307,118 during sss box office release, according to Box Office Mojo but had a budget of $200 million.
A lesbian kiss in the children’s film between two characters was cut and then reinserted in the film after Disney employees said the company was not doing enough to combat Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis' Parental Rights in Education bill, legislation that activists called anti-LGBTQ.
According to Newton’s Disney bio, she oversaw Disney’s diversity and inclusion initiatives which included working with “…various business segments and leaders across the enterprise to build on Disney’s commitment to produce entertainment that reflects a global audience and sustains a welcoming and inclusive workplace for everyone.”
During her tenure at the Mouse House, Newton co-signed the May 2020 memo to Disney staff in the wake of the death of George Floyd titled “Resolve in the Time of Unrest,” together with Bob Iger and Bob Chapek, according to Variety.
In the memo, the executives pledged “to use our compassion, our creative ideas, and our collective sense of humanity to ensure we are fostering a culture that acknowledges our people’s feelings and their pain. We also realize that now more than ever is the time for us all to further strengthen our commitment to diversity and inclusion everywhere.”
Before her time at Disney, Newton worked in a similar role with Toyota Motor North America, Inc.
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