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The success of TV shows like VH1’s Love and Hip Hop featuring diverse casts should spur other networks to look to create more programming featuring people of color in various roles and content genres, according to Mona Scott-Young, founder and CEO of Monami Entertainment.
Young, speaking Monday at the The Diversity Discussion event, said the success of reality franchises such as Love and Hip Hop tap – for which she serves as executive producer – taps into a desire for multicultural audiences – and African-American audiences in particular – to see themselves on the screen.
“Having the opportunity to provide a point of entry for women of color in particular became a very important agenda for me because those opportunities both in front of and behind the screen are few and far between,” she said in a discussion with Broadcasting & Cable editor Dade Hayes.
Scott-Young also conceded that while the Love and Hip Hop franchise – which includes several successful spinoffs – has been a ratings hit for VH1, it has also garnered a fair share of criticism for its often salacious character portrayals.
“There has been a ton of backlash because people feel like these representations aren’t what we want to see of ourselves,” she said. “There has been two schools of thought about having a show like Love and Hip Hop that has brought tremendous success to the network, but some folks feeling it might not be the image of diversity that some want to see.”
Still, she said the show is helping to open up more opportunities for the network as well as the industry to offer more diverse programming. “[The industry] can no longer discount the audience and the advertising dollars that the show brings,” she said. “At the end of the day that’s what counts.”
Scott-Young added that she doesn’t want to be “pigeonholed” into developing just reality content, adding that she’s working on several other projects including a scripted series. She also said while the content side of the business is saturated with programming, she’s confident that she’ll continue to create programming that stands out of the pack.
Scott-Young also lamented about the need for more diversity and inclusion behind the camera and within the executive suites. Young said that within her company she’s cognizant of hiring qualified people of color and women of all ages.
“There are older women who tell me once you’re of a certain age its hard to break in, much less move up the ranks, so that’s something that I try to work against as well,” she said.
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R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.