Diversity and inclusion was spotlighted during the annual Walter Kaitz Foundation fundraising dinner, which raised more than $1.6 million on Sept. 27 to support the industry’s diversity initiatives.
One of the brightest lights during the festivities was hip-hop mogul/entrepreneur Sean “Diddy” Combs, who exemplifies what diversity and inclusion looks like for the industry, as well as how far it still needs to travel to reach its goals.
Yes, the industry should be applauded for the positive results generated from the bi-annual WICT PAR and NAMIC AIM employment surveys, which showed that women and people of color continue to hold more top-level positions in greater percentages than in previous years. But Diddy reminded attendees that the hard work is not over.
While he didn’t waste an opportunity to tout his music-themed Revolt TV network in front of a captured crowd of MVPD executives — “This is like a dream come true, I’ve been trying to get meetings with all of y'all,” he declared — he wasn’t there to do a hard sales pitch. Instead he spoke poignantly about his own climb up the corporate ladder, from being raised by a single mother who emphasized a strong work ethic, to honing his entrepreneurial skills though hustling to get a paper route at age 12 even though he was too young to work, to eventually becoming one of the most successful entertainment moguls.
He lamented not seeing positive African-American images on television growing up. “These images really affected me, just like they affect millions of kids out there now who don’t feel they have a position or a voice because of the lack of diversity in films, media, network ownership and also distribution,” he said.
Indeed, Diddy is one of an embarrassingly few number of people of color who own media properties. Such individuals would have a major say in what images and stories appear on the screen, as well as who’s telling those stories behind the camera. Diddy challenged the industry to do better.
“I’ve been blessed with a lot of success, but I would be lying to you if I told you that we have enough diversity within the cable industry.” he said. “True diversity is having a fair and equal chance to compete. This is not about charity but about opportunity.”
Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for The Walter Kaitz Foundation
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