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Latasha Gillespie: ‘Women have to be bold and fearless because there is nothing to lose’

Latasha Gillespie is the Global Head of Diversity, Equity Inclusion and Accessibility at Amazon Studios and Prime Video. In her role, she builds mechanisms to improve the diverse representation of talent, dismantles long-standing barriers to success in the entertainment industry and tells inclusive stories that are accessible and marketed to a globally diverse audience.

Latasha previously led the Global Diversity and Inclusion (DEI) Organisation across Amazon Corporate, where she worked with Jeff Bezos and the Board of Directors on Amazon’s DEI strategies and progress. Prior to Amazon, she spent 20 years living and working all over the globe in Finance and Human Resources positions with Caterpillar Inc. Recently honored as a 2022 Multichannel News Wonder Women, GLAAC named her Executive of the Year in 2021. She ended last year on the cover of Inclusion Magazine for leading the charge on implementing inclusive and equitable practices. In addition, she was honored in Variety’s 2021 Women’s Impact Report and Variety’s 2021 Inclusion Impact Report.

In this interview, she tells TOBI AWODIPE about being a voice for the underrepresented, what it takes to be an original Amazon creator, and holding the door open for other women.

When did you realise you wanted to be an advocate for the underrepresented?

MY whole life! I grew up as the only little black girl in my school, class, and club, so I learned what it meant to be the ‘other’ very early. My father taught me how to use my voice and own the power of my voice, and he instilled these in me right from when I was a little girl. He told me I had to fight twice as hard; to stand up and advocate for myself.

By the time I got to high school, I was very comfortable standing up for myself to the extent that when I saw other people experiencing something similar to what I was experiencing or had experienced, but didn’t have that voice, I felt like I needed to lend mine to theirs. So, even before I formally started doing this work, I have always been doing this work informally.

How has the public reacted thus far, knowing that making this information public will result in Amazon being held accountable to everyone?

The great thing is that people have been really encouraged, because everyone in this industry wants to do better, but don’t necessarily know what ‘good’ looks like. Everyone keeps saying, ‘we have to do better at inclusion,’ but what does that actually look like?

When we put the Inclusion Policy and Playbook out, we didn’t put it out because we have everything solved and it was all-perfect; we put it out because we have to do this together. So, we are urging everyone to please adopt the playbook, adapt and share it with us. There is no pride in ownership. We have to put the process and systems in place to do and be better.

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