Tonya Cornileus

Cornileus has spearheaded the expansion of the mentorship program at ESPN, overseeing multiple events for employees aimed at driving conversation around improving their work experiences. She also takes on a mentor role for high school students through the Hartford Consortium for Higher Education’s New Beginnings program. To survive in the industry nowadays, Cornileus says you have to “stay curious, keep learning and get comfortable with change.”

What’s a recent example of a step forward for diversity in the industry?
Marvel’s “Black Panther” topped $1.3 billion in global box office sales. This film about an American superhero was directed by Ryan Coogler, a Black filmmaker, and featured a largely Black cast. What Black Panther confirmed is that powerful and inclusive storytelling appeals to all audiences.

In what areas should the industry step up its efforts with regard to diversity and inclusion?
We must step up our efforts to foster a speak-up culture where all people are heard and supported. We were all appalled by how expansive #MeToo experiences are in the industry. To know that women suffered through years of silence because they believed they had to choose between having a career and speaking out against their sexual abuser tells us that our efforts to create safe spaces is lacking.

What’s your best advice to someone just entering the video content/distribution industry?
I advise anyone just entering the video content/distribution industry to stay curious, keep learning and get comfortable with change. Consumer preferences and technology continue to change and the people who are successful in this industry will be those who can adapt quickly and embrace new ideas, technologies, and practices.

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