A Hallmark executive plans to step down after overseeing a shift in programming from “predominantly white and straight” to “diverse and inclusive” characters and storylines. The company announced in a news release Tuesday that Wonya Lucas will leave her role as president and CEO of Hallmark Media at the end of the year. The release gave no reason for her exit, though it said she would remain on the board of directors, “where her experiences and insights will help shape the strategic direction of the business.” Lucas was quoted in the release as saying, “I am honored to have led this company and am tremendously proud of the progress we’ve made by creating an evolved entertainment experience that inspires meaningful, emotionally connected moments for our audiences. “My passion for the Hallmark brand has grown in deeply rewarding ways and will remain paramount as I continue to help guide Hallmark Media’s future in a more strategically focused capacity.” The Los Angeles Times said Lucas “was praised for expanding diversity on Hallmark projects, which had long been criticized for being predominantly white and straight.” The Hollywood Reporter lauded her tenure, saying she “transformed Hallmark to better reflect society with more diverse and inclusive storylines, characters and programming.” Lucas also “transformed Hallmark’s executive suites” as she forged new partnerships with streaming platforms Peacock, YouTube and Hulu, the outlet said. She made her mark at Hallmark by partnering with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and producing “The Christmas House,” a gay-themed holiday romance that aired in 2020, Blaze Media reported. “Whether Hallmark movies will continue these LGBTQ storylines once Lucas is gone remains unclear,” the report said. Lucas was hired that year to replace former CEO Bill Abbott, who had launched the Hallmark Channel in 2004. Under Abbott’s leadership, the channel developed a reputation for wholesome, squeaky-clean romances. But the company came under fire in 2019 for canceling an ad featuring a same-sex couple, Decider reported. The company later apologized and reinstated the ad, according to Blaze Media, but Abbott resigned shortly after the incident. He went on to launch the Great American Family channel and proceeded to hire away (Decider termed it “poaching”) many of Hallmark’s most popular stars, including Candace Cameron Bure, Danica McKellar, Lori Loughlin and Trevor Donovan. “Add all of this to ex-Hallmark mainstay Candace Cameron Bure’s comments about GAC only focusing on ‘traditional marriage’ and a genre of TV movie that was once relegated to background noise while you decorate your tree is suddenly at the epicenter of a very serious culture war,” Decider reported. Hallmark soundly beat the upstart GAF last Christmas, averaging 2 million viewers for each on its holiday films compared with 282,000 each for Great American Family’s movies, according to Decider. But GAF has countered that news by focusing on the positive, trumpeting claims that it is “TV’s fastest-growing network.” “Great American Family has extended its ratings growth streak after closing out April 2023 as TV’s fastest-growing network for six consecutive months in year-over-year Total Day Household ratings,” the company said in a news release on May 5, citing Nielsen Media Research for the half-year period ending in April. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.