Closing The Gap

This is the woman who canceled 'Roseanne,' ABC's first African-American woman president

Earl Gibson III | Getty Images

On Tuesday, ABC's re-boot of the popular sitcom "Roseanne" went from being a ratings darling to getting canceled after the show's star and creator, Roseanne Barr, tweeted racist comments about Valerie Jarrett, a former aid to President Barack Obama.

And the TV executive behind the decision has become something of a hero.

"Roseanne's Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show," Channing Dungey, ABC Entertainment Group's executive president, said in a statement Tuesday.

But Dungey is also a trailblazer in another way: She made history as the first African American, and first African American woman, to head up a major TV network when she was promoted to her current position in February 2016.

Dugney graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1991 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and began her career as a development assistant at Davis Entertainment, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

She held a number of other roles at companies like Steamroller Productions and Warner Bros. and joined ABC in 2004.

Before being named the executive president of ABC, she worked as SVP of drama development and VP of drama development, racking up hits like "American Crime," "Once Upon a Time," "How to Get Away with Murder" and "Scandal."

In 2016, the Hollywood Reporter reported that Dungey is "known by many as the Shonda Rhimes whisperer," the star producer behind many of the network's hit shows like "Grey's Anatomy" and "Scandal." The publication even wrote that Dungey's "biggest success has been her fruitful relationship with Rhimes."

On Tuesday, after ABC announced that it will cancel the sitcom "Roseanne" in the wake of Barr's now-deleted tweets, which compared Jarrett to an ape (Barr has since apologized), stars took to Twitter to praise Dungey for her quick decision to kill the show.

Actress Viola Davis, star of "How to Get Away with Murder," tweeted, "Thank you Channing Dungey!"

"Scandal" actress Kerry Washington wrote, "My prayers go out to the cast and crew who will now pay the price. But THANK YOU @RobertIger, #ChanningDungey and @ABCNetwork for standing up against bigotry." #Roseanne." Rhimes tweeted, "Thank you, Channing. #justice."

Meanwhile, screenwriter and "Grey's Anatomy" executive producer Krista Vernoff wrote, "I have never been more proud to work for @ABCNetwork. THANK YOU Channing Dungey for being my one little slice of hope for our country today."

Former "The View" co-host Star Jones congratulated the executive, writing "When you have a seat at the table, you have a say in the decisions that are made. When it's your table you make the decisions. "Roseanne canceled after star's RACIST comments." #ChanningDungey #ABC Entertainment President."

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