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On Tuesday, former Netflix executive is suing the company, alleging that she was fired because she was pregnant. Zarak worked as a manager in the international originals division in 2018, but after she informed her supervisor Francisco Ramos that was pregnant, Zarak claims that she was left out of meetings, and removed from the show she was working on about a Mexican-American singer.
While Neflix has yet to respond the suit filed on April 2, as reported by Variety, Zarak claims she tried speaking with HR about the issue, after which she and Ramos had a meeting where she assured him the she’d be working through her pregnancy and wouldn’t be taking leave until May, when she was due. During this conversation, according to the suit, he became “visibly agitated,” and the next day, she was fired.
Born in Mexico City, Zarak, 39, is a well-established movie producer who’s been working in the industry since 2008. She first started working with Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Films, and has since returned to running her own production company, Bonita Films.
Here’s what you need to know about Tania Zarak:
1. Zarak Claims Netflix’s Maternity Leave is a ‘Deceptive Marketing Tool’
Once Zarak announced her pregnancy, her suit alleges that she was pulled out of meetings concerning two shows that she was working on, a remake of a Mexican teen telenovela, and a series about a Mexican-American singer. After making a complaint to HR, she alleges the Ramos offered her a pay out and insurance money to leave quietly. He encouraged her to quit by saying it wouldn’t be a big deal.
Zarak never feared her job would be in limbo for becoming pregnant, as the “Netflix Culture,” the set of policies and procedures offered to employees, are not actually implemented. She claims “Netflix’s policies and public portrayal of its culture were a deceptive marketing tool in her case.” While Netflix employees are granted a year of maternity leave, Zarak alleges that anyone who actually takes that time off is then punished.
2. She Helped Produce ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ and ‘The Departed’
After graduated from college, Zarak moved to New York City and nabbed an internship with Robert DiNero’s production company with Jane Rosenthal, Tribeca Films. After six months, she was hired on full time and helped both develop and produce such films as Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth and Martin Scorce’s The Departed.
In 2007, she returned to Mexico to work with one of the most prominent independent film production companies in Latin America, Argos Cine.
3. Zarak’s Parents Did Not Let Her Watch TV as a Kid
While Zarak was not allowed to watch TV as a kid, she was allowed to watch movies. In an interview the East London Advisor Zarak said, “I was always interested in storytelling as a young girl. I remember the Blue Lagoon with Brooke Shields and for some reason that had a strong impact on me… I wanted to tell stories, take people on journeys to foreign places and create another world and that was always very appealing to me.”
Zarak came from a very creative family, and bother her parents fueled her artistic spirit in other ways. “My mum was a photographer so she would bring me to all her assignments. So, I pretty much grew up in the field in a way and that was all so stimulating. My father was a book publisher in Mexico. If you compare that to films and watching him edit books, that was very similar to editing films. So it was quite a creative stable.”
4. Her First Film ‘The Girl’ Starred Actress Abbie Cornish
After reading the script of The Girl, Zarak was so inspired, she started her own company in order to produce the film. Thus, Bonita Films was born. “The thing that really got me about [the script] was that although it is a story that features immigration social turmoil, it is a story that is about the relationship between two women. I think it is a very powerful, honest story. It is a story that has universal appeal, because it is about a little girl and the character played by Abbie Cornish, for whom it is a real vindication for her. She sees in this little girl an opportunity to forgive herself for her own past mistakes.”
Zarak started production on the film less than a year after first reading the script, and in July 2013, The Girl premiered in London’s MexFest.
5. Zarak Has Made All Her Social Media Accounts Private
Suing one of the biggest streaming companies in the world will likely bring a lot of hateful messages and internet trolls her way. It’s not surprising Zarak promptly made both her Instagram and Twitter private and protected. She will likely remain under on her social channels as the suit plays out.