Bela Bajaria named Netflix global TV head: All you need to know about the Indian-American corporate honcho

Bela Bajaria, the former local-language series chief who joined Netflix in 2016, was promoted over 18-year veteran Cindy Holland, who will be leaving next month.

FP Staff September 10, 2020 14:00:29 IST
Bela Bajaria named Netflix global TV head: All you need to know about the Indian-American corporate honcho

American streaming service Netflix has appointed Bela Bajaria to the newly-created role of Vice President Global Television, amidst a major leadership overhaul in the OTT's creative team.

Bajaria, the former local-language series chief who joined Netflix in 2016, was promoted over 18-year veteran Cindy Holland, who will be leaving next month, reports Bloomberg.

Holland was instrumental in developing and greenlighting much of Netflix’s original content, including shows such as House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black and Stranger Things.

Bajaria will now be in charge of English and local-language original series, both scripted and unscripted.

According to Variety, London-born Bajaria says having spent her childhood in the UK, Zambia and Los Angeles, she almost feels like a global citizen. Her grandparents emigrated from India to Africa to pursue business there, and her parents, who were born in East Africa, moved to Los Angeles from London at the age of eight. Bajaria was also the winner of the Miss India LA and Miss India USA crowns in 1991.

Bela Bajaria named Netflix global TV head All you need to know about the IndianAmerican corporate honcho

Bajaria’s appointment at Netflix comes on the heels of long-time chief content officer Ted Sarandos' promotion as the co-chief executive along with Reed Hastings.

In an emailed statement, obtained by Bloomberg, Sarandos praised the “versatility and creativity” Bajaria showed since joining the OTT giant in 2016. “Since becoming co-CEO, I’ve wanted to simplify the way our content teams operate — with one global film team led by Scott Stuber and one for TV, which will now be led by Bela Bajaria,” he wrote.

As VP of Local-Language, she oversaw the creation of Netflix’s massive array of original content in Europe, the Middle East, Turkey, Africa, India, Asia and Latin America.

Bajaria’s career in the entertainment industry first began in the mid-1990s, when she joined American broadcaster CBS as an assistant. In a little under two decades, she was able to quickly climb up the ladder to become one of the highest-ranking Indian-American executives in show business.

Before joining Netflix, she served as the President of Universal Television, where she helped to develop series like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and The Mindy Project, reports The Indian Express.

Bajaria was also behind the fruition of popular Netflix reality shows such as like Queer Eye reboot,  Indian Matchmaking, the gangster drama series Sacred Games and the recent coming-of-age show Never Have I Ever about an Indian American teenager.

In an interview with Variety, Bajaria championed for equal representation. She says, "I would read a script sometimes and imagine lots of different-looking people in that script or in that family setting, and then see [a cast of] primarily white actors.”

Further adding that everybody [has] their own 'descriptive bias or their own frame of reference' when they read something, it all comes into play while taking on a job of doing local-language originals. "I’m really being an advocate and really want people’s authentic stories told,” Bajaria assures.

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