Culture

Who Is Channing Dungey? ABC President Who Fired Roseanne Known as Entertainment Industry Trailblazer

In the aftermath of comedian Roseanne Barr's racist tweet and ABC's subsequent decision to cancel her show, fans and critics alike focused on ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey, whose sharp statement about the firing quickly went viral on Twitter.   

"Roseanne's Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show," Dungey said in the statement provided to Newsweek. 

Although Barr tweeted a slew of offensive statements on Tuesday morning, it was her racist remark about Valerie Jarrett, a former top adviser to President Barack Obama, that caused the most controversy. Barr, 65, replied to one of her commenters, telling him that the African-American attorney looked as if the "muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby."

After the firing was announced, fans noted the significance of Dungey issuing the dismissal. The executive, who made history in 2016 as the first black president of a major broadcast TV network, fired Barr for a racist diatribe against another black female trailblazer. 

"For the record, this is Channing Dungey," director Ava DuVernay tweeted Tuesday, attaching a picture of Dungey. "Sitting on top of your world like a Queen in full judgement of your garbage and taking it out. #Roseanne" 

Prior to sitting on the aforementioned throne, Dungey spent decades working in television, according to IMDB. The 49-year-old grew up in Sacramento, California, before moving to Los Angeles. She has one daughter, according to a report from ABC. 

Colleagues describe Dungey as "intuitive." She was brought on to bring to a fresh perspective to ABC's lineup, though she had already been with the entertainment arm of the network since 2004, according to her IMDB page.  

"Channing is about creativity, collaboration and innovation, and she's a smart, intuitive businesswoman," said Ben Sherwood, president of Disney-ABC TV Group, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in 2016. 

Other showrunners and creative talent at ABC also praised Dungey. She's frank and to the point, but helpful, they said. 

"It's always upsetting when you get a phone call saying your pilot hasn't been picked up, but when you get it from Channing, somehow you know she's telling you the truth, and you know the reasons why," Shondaland partner Betsy Beers told The Hollywood Reporter. "I'd probably rather hear a bad piece of news from Channing than almost anybody else."

In her first staff meeting as president, Dungey told employees that she wanted to help ABC "win." Around the time of her hiring, there were numerous reports that the network needed to take a step back from soapy dramas and tearjerkers, which flooded its lineups. Diversifying that content, as well as the cast, was a priority for her, she told them. 

"Having brought diversity to the air in the way that we have with Kerry Washington and Viola Davis toplining their shows, and then shows like Fresh Off the Boat and Black-ish, have been very important," Dungey said. "I look forward to continuing in that vein."

Clearly, Roseanne missed the mark. 

Channing Dungey SVP, Drama Development at ABC Studios Channing Dungey poses in front of a Lincoln at the 2016 ESSENCE Black Women In Hollywood awards luncheon at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on February 25, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California Jesse Grant/Getty Images For Essence

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