Under Singh’s leadership, BET continues its social and digital dominance with more than 50 million fans/followers across social platforms. He lends his time away from work to various outlets that will produce tomorrow’s media industry execs, including Harvard Business School’s Startup Studio. “To truly make an impact, the industry must take an intentional and mandated approach to diversity by proactively hiring and promoting people of color to the executive ranks, while also taking an intentional and mandated approach toward greenlighting projects from creators of color,” he says. “To emphasize, it must be intentional and mandated.”
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’s a disappointing statistic given such a large and increasing percentage of the population is multi-ethnic. We’re truly missing out on great storytelling from creators of color. However, it’s not all too surprising given the lack of diversity in the executive suites of most networks and studios. To truly make an impact, the industry must take an intentional and mandated approach to diversity by proactively hiring and promoting people of color to the executive ranks (i.e., the buy-side), while also taking an intentional and mandated approach toward greenlighting projects from creators of color (i.e. the supply-side). To emphasize, it must be intentional and mandated.
What’s a recent example of a step forward for diversity in the industry?
Without a doubt the success of “Black Panther,” and the more recent success of “Crazy Rich Asians,” has sent a loud and clear signal to Hollywood executives that stories with people of color both in front of and behind the camera do have universal appeal and are absolutely worth the investment.
What’s your best advice to someone just entering the video content/distribution industry?
Create a (lengthy) list of people who have successfully broken into the industry who share similar backgrounds, experiences, and affinity groups to yours—then either be introduced to them by a mutual connection (ideally), or find a way to contact them directly with a request for a small amount of their time for guidance. And be persistent, but respectful. It’s surprising how many people are willing to help if one just asks the right way.