Sitarah Pendelton

A champion of diversity and inclusion, Pendelton advocated for MTVE’s BIPOC production company incubator and brought in one of the women-run firms to be a production partner on the “Love & Hip Hop” franchise. She also has made sure BIPOC and female musical artists are represented on the show, noting that she aims to portray both good and bad life choices of cast members to help fans identify with them on a “human level.” One life decision Pendelton made was to take a work hiatus. Afterward, she took a job below her pay grade. “What I [gained] was a renewed love for TV… The adrenaline and pacing of the show coupled with simply being back to work in a creative environment was a good baby step for me.”

Best advice for someone looking to re-enter the workforce after a hiatus?
Don’t be afraid to take on a project or two below your pay grade. After giving birth to my second child and then needing back surgery and physical therapy, I’d been out of the market for some time. Like everyone else, I was tapping my network and exploring any openings. But while I waited for the right opportunity, I ended up taking on a project at a network in a position that was far below where I was in my career. I couldn’t pay my LADWP bill with what I was making, so it definitely wasn’t about the money. What I did gain was a renewed love for TV. I hadn’t sat in a control room and produced a live TV show in years. The adrenaline and pacing of the show coupled with simply being back to work in a creative environment was a good baby step for me reentering the workforce. It also reminded me why I love what I do. I’m grateful for those short few months that dusted off the cobwebs and for the jumpstart it gave me. Soon I landed back where I was supposed to be but I will always be grateful for that moment in time.

What one female empowerment book do you think every woman should read?
For me there are two: “A Year of Yes” by Shonda Rhimes and “Dare to Lead” by Brene Brown. I am personally obsessed with Brown and after seeing her first Ted Talk, I went down a rabbit hole and read all of her books. She asks us to lean into vulnerability, which on the surface feels so counter to what we are taught a powerful woman should do. But upon further examination, you quickly understand how powerful that action really is. And with “A Year of Yes”, I felt like while Shonda was putting herself out there, she was also calling me out. I took this mantra as my own personal challenge to push myself outside of my comfort zone and embrace the uncomfortable place of saying yes to things I otherwise would have avoided. It’s been amazing. And for that I thank her.

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