A new expose uncovered what it’s like working for one of the most prominent Hollywood entertainment press outlets. The Daily Beast interviewed 20 former and current staff members at TheWrap concerning their experiences working under Sharon Waxman.
In one sense, they describe Waxman as Miranda Priestly from “The Devil Wears Prada.” Another characterization given is “Jekyll and Hyde.”
“I’ve been around CEOs and politicians and like, actually important powerful people, and people that should be scary, like prisoners, and she is the scariest person I’ve ever met,” one source told The Daily Beast.
Sharon supposedly gave everyone a day off work, and more recently, she had a company-wide meeting where she vowed to do better regarding “workplace culture.” She said, “I was very sorry to learn that some current and former employees have had experiences at TheWrap that are not consistent with our values or the environment we work to foster. Providing a safe, enjoyable, and thriving workplace is essential to any business and something we have always made a priority from the time we started 12 years ago.”
Waxman is described as one to speak “off the cuff,” from late-night phone calls to lambast employees or using Slack to express her personal feelings. On one occasion that went awry, she commissioned a think piece about the person who filmed George Floyd’s death, Darnella Frazier. Waxman apologized nearly a week later for comparing Frazier to the likes of Orson Welles and Martin Scorsese.
The Daily Beast lists a series of incidents demonstrating the intensity of Sharon Waxman’s leadership.
During the San Bernardino mass shooting in 2015, a reporter was worried about her father’s safety because he was a golf course member nearby. “Sharon stormed out her office and told in front of the entire newsroom that it is improbable your dad had golf in the middle of the workday,” an employee remembers, despite another round of denial from TheWrap’s spokesperson.
In 2015 a former senior staff member had to take their child to the emergency room because he dislocated his elbow. The staffer worked from home for the next two days and was threatened with termination if she didn’t come back to the office. Several weeks down the line, the staffer quit. A spokesperson for TheWrap said Sharon Waxman denied this ever happened, but the former senior staff member remembers confronting her boss about this treatment on her last day.
In Autumn 2020, a former staff member quit “on the spot” after Waxman yelled at the employee for taking a few hours off of work so he could bring his fiancée to an oncologist for a cancer check-up. Though a spokesperson for TheWrap disputed the characterization of the episode, The Daily Beast managed to get two sources from TheWrap to speak on the record. Thom Geier and Lynne Segal covered for their boss’s behavior and justified the day-to-day grind under Waxman.
At TheWrap, nine people left from a staff of “just a few dozen,” signifying high turnover. Other reasons include too much work for not enough pay. A group of writers called “The Squad” only made $30,000 a year base pay, alongside a bonus program that works off page views. If staff have any complaints, they must contend with Sharon Waxman’s ex-husband leading the HR department.
The Daily Beast added employees are locked into “multi-year contracts with restrictive non-compete clauses” to guarantee they don’t get poached by the likes of Deadline or Variety.