Westworld creator Lisa Joy is smashing the misconception that people hired for their diversity aren't there for the right reasons. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the mastermind behind the robot theme park opened up about an incident at her first job when she was told she was a diversity hire (someone hired for the purpose of adding some much-needed diversity in Hollywood), so she didn't need to say anything in meetings.
"I honestly think in some ways she was trying to be helpful," Joy said when the moderator asked her how she felt about that. "It was, 'Don’t feel any pressure, no one expects anything from you.' It was my first job, I came from a completely different industry. I think it was meant as a pep talk."
Technically, it did end up inspiring her — just not in the way the person may have expected.
"It was one of those unnerving things where, you know, I consciously chose to talk about being a diversity hire for the first job, because people tend to discount [it]," she continued. "'Oh that means, you were chosen to fill some quota.' And it’s just not the case, minorities are underrepresented."
And she doesn't just mean racial minorities. The ability to succeed in Hollywood is often rooted in class inequality as well.
"People from—not even racially or in terms of gender—it’s really hard to get a job as a writer, and especially hard if you don’t have a kind of socioeconomic safety net to become a writer’s assistant and work for six years in the hope you can get that one script, you know," she added. "So programs like that really help bring new voices to the table, not just people of color, not just women, but also people of different backgrounds. And I think that’s really important."
As for that moment way back when (after which, Joy went on to work for shows like Pushing Daisies and Burn Notice before creating the HBO hit), she sees it as a reason to keep working.
"So when she told me that, I was of course, horrified that I was talking too much," she said. "But I have this opportunity and I kind of need to blast the doors off of it or it’s gonna slam right back on me."
Season 2, here we come!