Stephanie Yates

Yates and her team recently conducted research to determine viewer interest in green-lighting spinoffs of successful series “Growing Up Hip Hop,” “Love After Lockup” and “Marriage Boot Camp.” And their research proved spot-on, with the “Marriage Boot Camp: Hip Hop Edition” premiere scoring big ratings among African American adults and W25-54. Yates praises Ava DuVernay and Lena Waithe’s work, saying they make “sure everything they produce not only includes black actors but black writers, camera people, directors.”

What does your company/organization do to ensure all employees feel included?
An AMCN mission is a commitment to diversity and inclusion (D&I), and a big part of our D&I work is driven by our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). These groups allow us to celebrate diverse points of view, while helping to drive our business. For example, WE tv is the No. 1 ad-supported cable network among African American women on Thursday nights, and we utilize the VIBE (Vested Interest in Black Employees) ERG as a focus group to provide feedback on the cultural authenticity of our shows before they air. This is vital in helping with the cultural currency WE tv exchanges with the African American community weekly. It also allows valuable input from employees who otherwise may not be in the decision-making process.

What questions is the industry not yet asking in its efforts to be more diverse and inclusive that it should be?
STEM jobs are growing faster than any other U.S. sector and as a media researcher, there is a growing need to manage and manipulate large data sets from disparate sources. As an industry we tend to focus on the shiny jobs like production, development and marketing. We should be highlighting the opportunities in research, data science and business analytics. I would love to see media companies partnering with NAMIC, Katz and others to recruit diverse candidates for internships in research and data analytics. I’ve had a long and fruitful career in media research, and this is an area that can benefit from having a more diverse pool of candidates to engage with.

Which current television show/s best embrace diversity?
I’m a little biased here, but WE tv (a general market entertainment cable network) does a great job attracting African American women every Thursday night. As I’ve stated, WE tv is the No. 1 ad-supported cable network on Thursday night with African American women. Our shows like “Braxton Family Values” and “Growing Up Hip Hop” connect to African American women in a very authentic way, and that’s because we have African American producers working on these shows. However, I really love what Ava DuVernay and Lena Waithe are doing. They are making sure everything they produce not only includes black actors but black writers, camera people, directors. This is huge and a great example of making sure all pieces of your produced content is filtered through a black lens, and I think that’s dope!

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