Disney CEO, asked if the company is ‘too woke,’ says it will cater to the audience

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Walt Disney Co Chief Executive Bob Chapek, asked to address criticism the company had become “too woke,” said on Wednesday that its programming will cater to the audience and reflect the “rich, diverse” world of viewers.

“The world is a rich, diverse place, and we want our content to reflect that,” Chapek said at the Wall Street Journal Tech Live conference.

Disney’s clash with Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis this spring over the state’s Parental Rights in Education measure, which critics dubbed “the don’t say gay” bill, made it a political lightning rod and resulted in the state revoking the company’s special status that allowed it to essentially self-govern its 25,000-acre (10,120-hectare) Walt Disney World complex.

The company’s initial reluctance to step into the political debate also drew criticism from Disney’s own staff, who expressed frustration with Chapek’s handling of the issue.

Asked what lesson he had learned from the imbroglio, Chapek said it reinforced his understanding of Disney’s cast being at the heart of everything the company does.

“We were reminded, through the passion of our cast reaction, how important their sentiments are on these issues in terms of making them feel that they were part of The Walt Disney Company,” Chapek said.

When pressed about being the focus of personal attacks, Chapek said he shrugged it off.

“My own personal feelings aren’t really important,” Chapek said. “What’s important is how people think about our company.”

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine and Dawn Chmielewski; Editing by Chris Reese and Jonathan Oatis)

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