Nadria Tucker writes for TV. She also wants to make sure her own personal story and truth are told, as well.
In November 2020, Tucker took to Twitter to announce that her contract as a producer on The CW’s show Superman & Lois had not been extended.
“Some personal news: Wednesday I got word that my contract on Superman & Lois won’t be extended, my services no longer needed, my outline and draft subpar (obviously I disagree with that last bit lol),” Tucker tweeted. “This, after months of me flagging #metoo jokes in dialogue; of me defending the Bechdel test; of me FIGHTING to ensure the only Black faces onscreen aren’t villains; of me pitching stories for female characters (there’s one in the title of the series!) that went ignored. If I sound bitter, it’s because this one stings.”
“I’ve been assured by colleagues that I was great in the room, so I know I’m not nuts. I debated whether to post this but my own mental wellbeing demands that I do. The only way shit changes is to expose it,” she continued.
In a November interview with The Vulcan Reporter, Tucker noted she was “stunned” by her contract not being renewed. Tucker also detailed to writer, film critic, and professor Jonita Davis that she had spoken out about making sure there was diversity even within the background actors and received pushback claiming that the network may not be able to find actors of color in Canada. Tucker’s Twitter thread resurfaced recently when Superman & Lois premiered at the end of February. It was announced in March that the show will be renewed for a second season.
“After months of pitching ideas, fighting for diversity and representation and good feedback on my actual writing—I don’t want to leave that part out [about getting good feedback]—I [was] fired seemingly out of nowhere. It made me angry,” Tucker explained to The Root during a phone call earlier this month.
Following her tweets, Tucker said Warner Bros. representatives reached out to her for an internal meeting to discuss what she had recalled in her tweets (as The CW is a joint venture between the CBS Entertainment Unit of ViacomCBS and the studio and network division of AT&T’s WarnerMedia).
“They were basically like, ‘explain your tweet.’ So, I explained to them pretty much in the way I explained to you, [The Root]...’I tweeted because I was mad,” said Tucker. “I’m giving you the courtesy of this meeting. I’m no longer an employee. So, what is the point of this?’ Basically, they reached out to give me an exit interview based on some tweets that I tweeted. I haven’t heard from them since; my reps have apparently spoken with people at Berlanti [Productions] and WB, but I personally haven’t heard from any of those folks, which is fine with me.”
A source told The Root that the extensive discussion with Tucker following her tweets didn’t violate company policy or warrant further investigation, noting that while Tucker did receive good feedback on some aspects of her work, it does not preclude constructive feedback in other areas of her work. Further, sources added that while a senior member of Berlanti Productions management did reach out to Tucker’s team, it is the studio (WB, that is) that makes employment decisions with regard to writers and other production crew and that the Berlanti representative suggested that they contact WB Human Resources to discuss their concerns. In addition, the source said that in her meeting with HR, Tucker specifically denied believing that the option pickup decision was related to her comments/discussions regarding diversity on the show.
“After Ms. Tucker’s initial contract term on Superman & Lois concluded, Warner Bros. Television did not exercise its option to extend her for additional episodes,” Warner Bros. Television wrote in a statement to The Root. “Contrary to reports, she was not fired; options are standard with writer agreements and not always extended. As she has stated publicly, WBTV was transparent and told her why it was not picking up her option. Any accusation or implication that the decision was motivated by any other factor is categorically false. After her public statements, WBTV conducted a climate survey with the writing staff about their work environment, which revealed that healthy discussions about all creative matters, including increasing diversity, have always been welcome in the show’s writers’ room. We are very proud of the diverse team that is bringing this new Superman & Lois story to the screen.”
As an added layer to Tucker’s claims, Ray Fisher, who recently co-starred in Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021), has been using his platform to call out the alleged transgressions of Justice League (2017) director Joss Whedon as well as Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich, former DC Entertainment president and chief creative officer (CCO) Geoff Johns, Justice League producer Jon Berg and DC Films president Walter Hamada. Fisher tweeted in support of Tucker and has also been using the hashtag #IStandWithNadriaTucker as a nod to his own support group hashtag, #IStandWithRayFisher.
“I feel every bit of your pain @NadriaTucker,” Fisher tweeted. “Among many other things, I had to spend an inordinate amount of time explaining to Geoff why he was NOT the authority on how the existence of Cyborg’s genitals would be perceived by the Black community. He strongly disagreed.”
As for Fisher’s claims against the studio and its executives, WarnerMedia has responded in a series of statements, including the latest statement issued on Feb. 27 which read: “Once again there are false statements being made about our executives and our company surrounding the recent Justice League investigation. As we have stated before, an extensive and thorough third-party investigation was conducted. It’s time to stop saying otherwise and move forward productively.”
Tucker told The Root that when Fisher reached out to her to speak on her experiences for the investigation involving his claims, she agreed to speak with investigators by recalling her experience with Johns and noted that she has never met nor had any experiences with Whedon. In response to a fan questioning how producer Johns affected Superman & Lois, Tucker, who was a staff writer on SyFy’s Krypton in 2018 and was promoted to story editor in 2019, tweeted, “I haven’t spoken to Geoff since the day on Krypton when he tried to tell me what is and is not a Black thing.”
“So we had a Black actress, Georgina Campbell, she’s fantastic,” Tucker recalled to The Root. “We were discussing her hair and we had a problem that her hair was different in different scenes, in the same episode, not different like continuity-different, but [in this instance] she had it up [at one point] then, she had it down. Specifically, she had the back of her head shaved in, like, a chevron pattern and [Geoff] wasn’t happy when her hair was up and you could see that. So, I kept trying to argue that people change their hair, people have their hair up or down, specifically, Black women change our hair a lot. [In regard to] her hairstyle, showing that is, like, a Black thing. And he just flat out was like, ‘No, it’s not.’”
Tucker further noted that she hadn’t had contact with Johns on Superman & Lois as he’s “not involved, really” on that show. Sources close to the matter told The Root that Tucker didn’t mention any issues with Krypton during her meeting with WB HR and claimed Tucker said she had a good experience with that show.
The fight to increase the number of writers from marginalized groups continues as “representation matters,” but does it truly matter if you don’t actually feel represented on various levels or feel safe in a workplace?
“No matter how many Black, Asian, disabled or gay writers you hire, if you don’t listen to them, it’s pointless,” Tucker, who has also publicly stated that she was not the only Black writer or writer of color in the Superman & Lois writers’ room, noted. “That’s what it comes down to. People are packing their rooms with writers who are ‘diversity hires’ who come through these diversity programs that the studios and networks have. That’s a great way for shows to highlight that they have some diversity in the writers’ rooms. But those people are frequently brought on as staff writers, which is the lowest level of writer. They basically have zero experience and they tend to be not listened to as often as upper-level writers.”
As far as writers’ room hierarchies go, ScreenCraft provided a handy guide explaining a typical chain-of-command, which is: writers’ production assistant, writers’ assistant, staff writer, story editor, co-producer, producer, supervising producer, co-executive producer and executive producer/showrunner. As Tucker told Davis in the November interview, her status as a producer meant staff writers came to her with their issues as well and she routinely spoke up on behalf of them and herself, given her senior position status.
Warner Bros. has been making public moves in an attempt to increase their Black representation, including aligning with Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors, activist-author Kimberly Latrice Jones (I’m Not Dying With You Tonight) and Yale University Professor and Center for Policing Equity Co-Founder & CEO Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff, signing respective overall development and production deals with each of them. In February, after Tucker’s Twitter thread resurfaced, a huge announcement came out about Ta-Nehisi Coates writing the next Superman movie. The critical question is: Are these actions performative?
“My agent and manager have told me that parties involved want to make this right for me, specifically,” Tucker told The Root. “I don’t know what that means because I haven’t seen this. They still owe me for two episodes they haven’t paid me for. That could be a way to make things right. They can make things right by letting go of the people who are problematic.[...] Do I think these things are performative? Of course. We’ll just see if they have the follow-up.” Sources close to the matter told The Root that Tucker was compensated for the first 13 episodes she was contracted to work on and that she did not receive compensation for episodes 14 and 15 because her contract was not extended for those episodes.
As for Tucker, though she says no one has reached out to her since her initial meeting with WB HR, she is open to discussing a way forward, especially as it pertains to making the concrete changes she believes should happen at WB.
“I would love to talk to whoever if they want to reach out,” Tucker assured. “I do have faith that people will work together to try to make change because that’s the only way it can happen. I can’t do it by myself and Ray [Fisher] can’t do it by himself.”
Overall, Tucker has her eyes on the future with some developing projects in the works that she can’t talk about right now but seems excited for what’s in store.
“I’ve got some things in the works for TV and I would love to share some Black, nerdy, amazing stuff [when I can],” she concluded.
In addition to Warner Bros. Television, which provided the above official statement, The Root has reached out to representatives for Geoff Johns, Greg Berlanti/Berlanti Productions, The CW, Warner Bros. Pictures, and DC Entertainment for comment on this matter and are awaiting a response.
Updated: 3/23/2021, 3:53 p.m. ET:
We previously made an update at 2:12 p.m. ET regarding Tucker’s response that we have now removed pending further legal review. We will update here once we confirm further details.