Crown Media, the mega-corporation that owns both Hallmark greeting cards and the Hallmark Channel, gave an update this week reaffirming the company’s commitment to diversity. CEO Wonya Lucas also assured audiences that more Hallmark movies featuring LGBTQ representation on both sides of the camera is on the way.
Lucas made the announcement at the Winter Television Critics Association meeting, reports Deadline. She further said the company is “proud” of its advances in queer representation, and looks forward to celebrating more in the immediate future.
“Before I arrived, we had begun to expand our brand inclusiveness in front of and behind the camera,” Lucas said. “I’m proud of the progress this team is making to expand diversity in our programming and it is nothing short of seismic. The significant achievements made in the D&I (diversity and inclusion) space in 2020 laid the groundwork for us to branch out in our storytelling to approach the complexity of what it means to love and be a family in a more authentic, varied, and inclusive way.”
For Hallmark, that has entailed the release of two films with leading LGBTQ characters, The Christmas House starring Jonathan Bennett, and Wedding Every Weekend which features a lesbian wedding. Lucas also touted the upcoming premiere of Mix Up in the Mediterranean, about a man who meets his long-lost twin, who also happens to be a gay man. Actor Jeremy Jordan plays the lead.
It wasn’t always so. In 2019, the Hallmark Channel came under fire for an ad that featured a same-sex wedding. Christian activist group One Million Moms decried the commercial, prompting Hallmark to pull the ad from circulation. A further outcry by the LGBTQ community prompted Hallmark to re-run the ad, and to commission films with gay characters.
When asked about the 2019 controversy, Lucas distanced both herself and the network from the scandal.
“All I can speak to is where we are today. And really just coming in six months ago and seeing the work that the team had already done and begun, it really did make me proud,” she said. “What I see, moving forward – and I can speak for myself – is that we’re gonna continue to lean into that and you’re gonna see more of that. And we welcome all the advertisers who have been supportive of us, and our team’s been supportive, and our parent company is incredibly supportive. So this is who we are.”