INTX 2016: NAMIC Honors Industry Diversity Leaders, Univision’s Maria Elena Salinas

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The National Association of Multi-ethnicity in Communications honored its Next Generation Leaders and Luminaries during its annual awards breakfast at the INTX show Wednesday morning, which also featured a trailer for History’s Roots reboot.

NAMIC recognized four Next Generation Leaders — emerging executives of color under the age of 45 who exemplify NAMIC’s mission of education, advocacy and empowerment to foster multiethnic diversity and inclusion in the cable industry — as well as 10 Luminaries who have demonstrated a high level of business acumen while fostering diversity and inclusion.

“They are trendsetters, thought leaders and change agents,” NAMIC president Eglon Simons said of the honorees. “They are spreading NAMIC’s vision for advocacy within their organizations.”

The diversity organization also honored Noticiero Univision anchor Maria Elena Salinas with the organization’s 2016 Mickey Leland Humanitarian Achievement Award, given to an executive for their lifelong advocacy in social justice and equality for people around the world. Salinas said in her acceptance speech that as a member of the Spanish-language media, she felt a responsibility to go beyond the headlines in reporting the news.

“I always believed that there would have to be a social service component to our job,” Salinas said. “ After all, we do serve an audience that has additional needs and a community that depends on us for information that will help make their lives more manageable."

Actor LeVar Burton also addressed breakfast attendees as an executive producer of History’s eight-hour miniseries reboot of Alex Haley’s 1970s miniseries Roots about the journey of an African-American family through slavery.

Burton, who starred as Kunta Kinte in the original Roots, said he was at first skeptical of History’s plans to remake the classic 1970s miniseries, but was won over after Mark Wolper -- the son of original Roots executive producer David Wolper -- said that the nearly 40 year-old miniseries didn’t speak to his kids when they watched it.

“It is a reality that there is an entire generation of Americans who do not know this very important story,” Burton said.

R. Thomas Umstead

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.