Among her recent accomplishments, Wade helped develop a curriculum to build communication and managerial skills of younger colleagues. Her advice to newcomers: “Know who you are and your value, don’t wait for other people to tell you your worth. Find mentors and supporters no matter who they are to be champions of you in every organization that you work for and keep in touch with those people throughout your career.”
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?
I’m happy that the four black creators of scripted shows were approved in 2017-2018, but this is still far short of what I’d hope and expect. Our industry’s lives off of creativity and is in need of interesting and content that engages audiences to watch and share. There is still the lack of acceptance that creativity can come from anywhere. Limiting where interesting stories comes from and who can tell them is like a network or platform saying they have no interest in broadening their audience and increasing revenue which is crazy. The fact is that storylines that deal with have diverse cast and deliver diverse perspectives of the works deliver extremely well. Black-ish, for example, has drawn a 79% non-black viewership this season and consistently posts high ratings with an average of 5.4 million viewers per episode. The ABC show not only revolves around a black family, but also directly addresses race in episodes like “The N Word” and “Lemons,” which focuses on responses to Donald Trump’s election win. HBO’s “Insecure”—which is based on Issa Rae’s Web series The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl—garners a 61.5% non-black audience, despite Rae specifically seeking to represent a black reality on the show. The Golden Globe-winning Atlanta, which deals with both race and class, has an almost even split between black and non-black viewers.
In what areas should the industry step up its efforts with regard to diversity and inclusion?
What’s really hard to believe is that its 2018 and we are still having this conversation but here we go. A report in 2015 by McKinsey looked at 366 companies in the US, UK, Canada, and Latin America and found when companies commit themselves to a more diverse leadership, they are more successful. Overall, the report concluded that diverse companies were more likely to win over top talent, and thus improve things like employee satisfaction, leading to more positive returns. In 2012, Credit Suisse performed a similar study on 2,400 companies, and found large-cap companies (those worth over $5 billion) with at least one woman on the board outperformed their rivals who had no women on their boards by 26% over six years. In a blog post for Psychology Today, human performance coach Dr. David Rock outlines why more diverse teams are often smarter, more efficient, more innovative, and generally prove to be of greater value than non-diverse ones.
What’s your best advice to someone just entering the video content/distribution industry?
The best advice I can give goes like this: know who you are and your value, don’t wait for other people to tell you your worth. Find mentors and supporters no matter who they are to be champions of you in every organization that you work for and keep in touch with those people throughout your career. Always add tangible and measurable value where ever you are. Never leave a place the way you found it. Be a collaborator and an encourager of and to others. Work hard because people are watching and will tell a story of you without you knowing it. Don’t take credit for other people’s work. When you get to a leadership position make sure your team is diverse and inclusive. Know that sometimes you may have to tell other people how to do something—it’s not a sign of weakness or a lack of intelligence. Always be gracious.