Who Is Amy Powell? Paramount TV President Fired Over Alleged Racist Remarks

Katy Perry and Amy Powell

Katy Perry and Amy Powell | Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Amy Powell, a television executive who has overseen the production of hit shows like 13 Reasons Why and A Series of Unfortunate Events, has been fired after allegedly making racist comments. 

This is a big deal, as Powell has been working for Paramount in some form or another for nearly 15 years. According to her LinkedIn page, Powell became the senior vice president of Paramount Pictures in 2004, and she was responsible in large part for the online strategies of the studio’s films during the subsequent years; she oversaw the revolutionary marketing campaign for the mysterious 2008 found-footage film Cloverfield, as well as the 2009 horror film Paranormal Activity.

Powell also oversaw Paramount’s Insurge Pictures division, which produced mainly low-budget horror films like The Devil Inside and concert films like Katy Perry: Part of Me.

In 2009, Powell became the president of Paramount Digital Entertainment, and in 2013, she became the president of Paramount Television. At the time, Paramount was relaunching its television division, with the plan being that they would turn a number of film franchises that they owned into TV shows.

The first project was a show based on Beverly Hills Cop, although that never ended up moving forward. Still, Powell did successfully oversee the production of shows based on the films School of RockMinority ReportShooter, and Galaxy Quest.

Paramount TV has also developed a number of successful shows not based on movies during Powell’s time as president, including 13 Reasons WhyA Series of Unfortunate Events, and The Alienist, in addition to the upcoming shows Catch-22Maniac, and Jack Ryan. In general, Paramount’s TV division has mainly been focused on making TV shows based on properties that existed in some other form first, whether it was a movie, a book, or something else.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Powell lives in Los Angeles with her husband and her two children, ages 4 and 8.

Amy Powell and executive producer Jonathan Stern

Amy Powell and executive producer Jonathan Stern | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Now, Powell has been fired, with Paramount CEO Jim Gianopulos announcing this shocking news in a memo on Thursday. In the memo, Gianopulos only said that multiple people had complained that she had made comments that are “inconsistent with our company’s values.”

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Powell allegedly made offensive generalizations about black women during a call discussing Paramount’s upcoming reboot of First Wives Club, which will feature a mostly black cast and is being written by a black woman, Tracy Oliver.

This seems to explain a tweet from Oliver last month which read, “Had a moment today that REALLY pointed out why we need representation across the board. A black female voice doesn’t matter if the decision makers don’t understand nor even want to understand what you’re saying. Where’s the  for race sh*t out here?”

The Hollywood Reporter also notes that Paramount had considered simply disciplining Powell, but when she denied the allegations entirely, they decided to terminate her employment. In a statement after her firing, Powell said there’s no truth to these allegations. “The facts will come out and I will be vindicated,” she said.

This is only the latest example of a television executive being fired after reportedly making racist comments. Last month, Netflix’s communications chief, Jonathan Friedland, was fired after using the N-word on more than one occasion, Reed Hastings said.