With the relaunch of the UP Faith and Family SVOD service, Cannon helped create a direct-to-consumer service with strong growth potential. “I have a unique 360-degree view of the industry,” she says. “It’s not often that I see other persons of color and especially women within my interactions. I encourage anyone and everyone to dig in and align your paths among these burgeoning and ever-evolving platforms.”
A February 2018 UCLA study revealed that of the 45 new scripted shows approved for 2017-18 across broadcast, cable and digital platforms, only four were from creators of color, all of whom were black. What is your reaction to this report?
It pains me to have to say, I’m not at all shocked by this study. In fact, these stats have become the norm. On the other hand, it gives me hope in knowing there is an enormous amount of room for improvement for all persons of color to enter into this entertainment space. It’s exciting to see shows and movies like Fresh off the Boat (which we now air in syndication on UPtv) and the theatrical release of Crazy, Rich Asians, which confirms the need for diversity. While we should celebrate the success of Ava DuVernay, Salim and Mara Brock Akil, Shonda Rhimes, Cheo Hodari Coker and others within the television and digital spaces, we must acknowledge that they all fought long and hard to create their own opportunities. It’s amazing to me that in 2018, we are still fighting for placement within the confines of Hollywood so that our stories are told. It’s going to take a mindset change – we cannot wait for others to give us the opportunities and decide which of our stories are true, relevant and entertaining. We truly have what it takes to create our own, finance our own, distribute our own projects and build our own platforms. We must learn to assess our skills and partner up strategically. Until then, we will continue to see these studies and wonder when we will get equal opportunities to thrive.
In what areas should the industry step up its efforts with regard to diversity and inclusion?
There’s always room for improvement in front of and behind the scenes within content creation and distribution. There aren’t enough decision makers that have the ability to greenlight stories depicting our cultures authentically. Diverse representation among the tech and SVOD spaces is also needed. In my position, I have a unique 360-degree view of the industry as I distribute & market content via traditional (Linear/VOD), SVOD, EST and international program sales. It’s not often that I see other persons of color and especially women within my interactions. I encourage anyone and everyone to dig in and align your paths among these burgeoning and ever-evolving platforms.
What’s your best advice to someone just entering the video content/distribution industry?
My advice to anyone entering video content/distribution is that no matter what area of the business you choose to work in – content creator, producer, advertiser etc.—you must understand how content flows and how marketing, in particular digital marketing, plays a vital role in your success. Our industry is transitioning swiftly into the world of KPI’s—CPA’s, ROI, views/streams, paid media campaigns etc. Learn the Language!