After three years as CEO of Hallmark Media, Wonya Lucas is stepping down. (Image: Hallmark Media)

After three years as president and CEO, Wonya Lucas is stepping down as the head of Hallmark Media. The industry veteran will continue to serve on the company’s Board of Directors.

“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,” Lucas said in a statement to Deadline. “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.”

Wonya Lucas

Wonya Lucas took over as president and CEO of Hallmark in July 2020, six months after Bill Abbott left the company. A veteran of the industry — Lucas had held leadership positions at TNT, TBS, Discovery Channel, The Weather Channel, and TV One — she was given the task of diversifying the casts and storylines in Hallmark’s movies and TV series.

“My first goal was understanding the audience, but then also understanding what I called the opportunity audience,” Lucas said in an interview with CNBC.

Under her leadership, Hallmark forged deals with Peacock, YouTube, and Hulu, as well as numerous FAST/AVOD platforms. Lucas also was instrumental in launching a series of movies based on Hallmark’s Mahogany card line and the Make Her Mark Women’s Directing Program.

Changes

But not all of her decisions were popular with fans. In July 2021, Hallmark announced it would be canceling its popular series Good Witch after seven seasons. Fans were devastated and began online petitions to bring the series back.

The network later canceled Chesapeake Shores, as well as the mystery franchises Hailey Dean Mysteries, Mystery 101, and Picture Perfect Mysteries.

Hallmark Channel launched two new shows in 2023, The Way Home and Ride, as well as several new mystery series, including The Curious Caterer and Family History Mysteries.

Mixed reactions

Some Hallmark fans responded to the news by showing support for Lucas.

“Wonya is and has always been a class act,” wrote one Hallmarkie in the comments section of a Deadline article. “Hallmark was lucky to have her, and they will feel her loss. Watch this space to see the next great thing Wonya does.”

Others were not so supportive.

“She destroyed the company and now she leaves its smoking ruins,” wrote another. “So many shows she canceled – Home and Family (the best way for Hallmark to promote its movies and shows) and every single one of its mystery series – Candace’s, Lacey’s, Jill’s, Taylor’s, Holly’s, Jesse’s. Drove so many Hallmark favorites away from the channel. She couldn’t have done a ‘better’ job at destroying the company if she’d actually tried.”

Hallmark has not commented on who will replace Lucas, saying only that the CEO of Hallmark Companies, Mike Perry, will work with the executive leadership team to “complete the process of Lucas’ transition.”

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