The Black trans Netflix employee who was fired last week amid the internal uproar at the company over the transphobia in Dave Chappelle's latest comedy special has given a new interview to explain how things went down.
Netflix clearly has wanted to frame the termination of former program manager B. Pagels-Minor as being about a major violation of company policy. Specifically, the often guarded company when it comes to viewership figures and production costs accused Pagels-Minor of leaking sensitive internal information to the press. That information had to do with production costs for Chappelle's special and other Netflix programs which then appeared in an October 13 Bloomberg article.
Information that Pagels-Minor says they shared on a chat channel about the cost of Chappelle's The Closer ($24.1 million) and his previous special Sticks & Stones ($23.6 million), along with the price-tags of Squid Game ($21.4 million) and Bo Burham's Inside ($3.9 million) spread far and wide in the media. And the company says they had a record of Pagels-Minor accessing the data, and they quickly fired Pagels-Minor.
"We have let go of an employee for sharing confidential, commercially sensitive information outside the company," a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement. "We understand this employee may have been motivated by disappointment and hurt with Netflix, but maintaining a culture of trust and transparency is core to our company."
In a new interview with Vulture, Pagels-Minor says they want to set the record straight about how the information was shared.
"I explained to them that I had pulled all this data. It was a part of the argument for diversifying content on the network," Pagels-Minor says. "It’s a better value-add than necessarily investing so much money into some of these specials. There’s pieces of content that Netflix currently has that are far cheaper than some other pieces of content and do much better when it comes to engaging the audience. The question became to me, How can we say very clearly, you can make 25 or 100 specials of LGBTQ+-comedy people for the same price as one Chappelle special?"
Pagels-Minor frames the argument this way: "There’s gonna be content that people disagree with. There’s no question about that. But how do you create parity in content? How do you create another story, another documentary, another show, another film that combats the story that Dave Chappelle is putting forward. Why aren’t you investing in that?"
Netflix issued a statement to Vulture saying, regarding the claims that Pagels-Minor had only shared the sensitive data in a public-facing chat channel that had thousands of people in it and had not leaked it directly, saying, "These claims are not supported by the facts. This employee admitted sharing confidential information externally from their Netflix email on several occasions. Also, they were the only employee to access detailed, sensitive data on four titles that later appeared in the press. They claim only to have shared this information in an internal document, and that another employee must have leaked it. However, that document was missing data for one title and so cannot have been the source for the leak. In addition to having no explanation for this discrepancy, the employee then wiped their devices, making any further investigation impossible."
Within Netflix, Pagels-Minor had been a co-lead of a trans employee group, as well as a Black employee group, and they had been helping to organize the walkout that happened Wednesday in protest of the company's handling of the Chappelle special.
Pagels-Minor also points out that they were used for public PR campaigns and recruitment efforts by the company, like in this interview with Out Magazine from June.
Pagels-Minor is 33 weeks pregnant and prior to the firing was planning to take parental leave next month. They say that the phone call they had with HR was perfectly amicable, but things turned aggressive the next day, with a press release accusing them of leaking sensitive information.
"I was like, This is not at all the energy y’all came with last night. I don’t want to participate in this. I’m 33 weeks pregnant; I do not want this stress," Pagels-Minor tells Vulture. "However, they’ve only made it worse. Now I feel like I have to talk to the press in order to defend myself and hopefully come to an amicable resolution over all of this."