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Former Miss India USA Bela Bajaria will decide what world will watch on Netflix

In a move to simplify Netflix’s content strategy, both English and non-English programming will now come under Bela Bajaria — the former Miss India USA who is taking over as the streaming giant’s Vice President Global Television.

Bela Bajaria, who earlier served as VP Local Language Originals, will now be overseeing all of Netflix’s English and vernacular Original content. (Photographer: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg)

Top Netflix executive Bela Bajaria has been promoted to the newly-created role of Vice President Global Television, amidst a major leadership overhaul aimed at streamlining the OTT platform’s creative team. Bajaria is a former Miss India USA, having won the crown 1991.

Bajaria, who earlier served as VP Local Language Originals, will now be overseeing all of Netflix’s English and vernacular Original content, the Wall Street Journal reported. Her promotion also marks the end of an era at Netflix, as it coincides with the departure of veteran executive Cindy Holland, who was in charge of the streaming platform’s English-language programming until now.

The restructuring was initiated by Netflix’s co-CEO Ted Sarandos, following his promotion in July. “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 in an emailed statement, obtained by Bloomberg.

In his statement Sarandos praised the “versatility and creativity” Bajaria showed since joining the OTT giant in 2016. Bajaria was first tasked with building Netflix’s presence in the reality TV space, which she accomplished by launching the highly-acclaimed ‘Queer Eye Reboot’ series.

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Last year, as the company began to rapidly expand in international markets, she was put in charge of its non-English language TV shows. As VP of Local-Language Originals, she oversaw the creation of content in Europe, the Middle East, Turkey, Africa, India, Asia and Latin America. According to a report by Variety, more than 50% of Netflix’s revenue came from outside North America in the first half of 2020.

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’.

Meanwhile, Cindy Holland’s exit comes after spending nearly two decades of building Netflix into the entertainment empire it is today. She was one of the streaming giant’s first employees, back when it was merely a DVD-by-mail company. She helped build Netflix’s original content, starting with “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black” in 2013. She has also shepherded more recent shows like ‘Stranger Things’, ‘Narcos’ and ‘The Crown’, Variety reported.

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“It has been a real joy to lead the original series team for the last eight years,” Holland said in a statement. “From transitioning the company out of DVDs into streaming, to launching our first slate of original series and documentaries, I’ve loved every moment. I am proud of the impact and the diversity of the stories we’ve brought to audiences around the world, and to have worked with some of the most inspiring creators and executives in our business.”

Holland will officially be stepping down from her position in October. Speaking of his decision, Sarandos said, “These kinds of changes are never easy, and I am enormously grateful to Cindy Holland for everything she has done over the last 18 years at Netflix – first licensing DVDs and then as the driving force behind our first eight years of English original series.”

First published on: 09-09-2020 at 12:40:37 pm
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