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Traci Blackwell Steps Down as Head of BET Scripted Programming

Traci Blackwell
(Image credit: BET)

TV programming veteran Traci Blackwell is leaving her position as BET Networks EVP of scripted programming, the network has confirmed.

Blackwell joined BET in 2019 and oversaw the African-American targeted network’s original scripted programming functions, including development and casting. Under Blackwell's tutelage, the network offers 14 scripted series alone across platforms, including Lena Waithe's Twenties, Tyler Perry's Sistas, Will Packer's Bigger and Tracy Oliver's First Wives Club.

Read also: BET Sets June Date for 'Sistas' Season Three Premiere

Prior to BET, Blackwell worked at the CW where she most recently served as senior vice president of current programs for the network. 

The network said it will announce a new scripted leadership team shortly. 

BET Networks President Scott Mills announced Blackwell's departure in an internal memo Tuesday lauding Blackwell's leadership, especially during the pandemic.

"Traci has done fantastic work leading BET’s Scripted Programming team during one of the most challenging periods in production history – the COVID-19 pandemic," he said. "We have been tremendously fortunate to have had her leadership, and we are grateful that she leaves us very well positioned for the future."

Blackwell in a memo thanked Mills and BET for the opportunity to lead the network's programming operations. "I am very appreciative to Scott for the incredible opportunity to lead Team Scripted as we worked to produce an unprecedented amount of scripted content for the BET brand," she said. "Being in the trenches with such amazing people who showed up daily and who I have had the privilege to also learn from, has been the most remarkable part of this journey."

In a recent Multichannel News interview, Blackwell talked about the challenges of developing successful original programming in a very crowded television environment.

“You really have to rely on really great storytellers and continue to work with excellent producers and push the content out there, but it is very challenging,” she said. “We are all working on a lot of the same things on different platforms and it’s tricky -- it’s quite the challenge for everybody.“ 

Below is the full text of Mills' memo: 

Our friend and colleague, Traci Blackwellwill be leaving BET this month. Traci has done fantastic work leading BET’s Scripted Programming Team during one of the most challenging periods in production history – the COVID-19 pandemic. 

And, a lesser known fact is that BET leads the industry in the creation of Black scripted content by volume—in fact, we’ve brought forth 14 scripted series in 2021 alone; including series from Tyler Perry, Will Packer, Tracy Oliver, Lena Waithe, Tracey Edmonds, Carl Weber and more.  Never before has BET commissioned this many scripted series.

The only thing more impressive than the volume of series the team has delivered, is the incredible quality of each series.  We salute Traci and our team of incredibly creative professionals for this remarkable contribution to BET and the industry at large.

We have been tremendously fortunate to have had her leadership, and we are grateful that she leaves us very well positioned for the future.

We will be announcing new leadership of the scripted team shortly. In the meantime, please see a personal message from Traci below.

Please join me in thanking Traci for the profound impact she leaves on our brand and wishing her even more success in her next endeavors, while we lend our full support to our Scripted team members throughout this transition.

Blackwell's comments appear below:

During my time here, I’ve been blessed to work alongside the most amazing colleagues and team. I am very appreciative to Scott for the incredible opportunity to lead Team Scripted as we worked to produce an unprecedented amount of scripted content for the BET brand. While 2020 and Covid-19 proved to be challenging, to say the least, the BET family worked tirelessly and selflessly. Being in the trenches with such amazing people who showed up daily and who I have had the privilege to also learn from, has been the most remarkable part of this journey. To my team: You are the ABSOLUTE BEST!! I am proud of the impact we’ve made on our talent partners and thankful to have worked with some of the most inspiring creators and executives in our business.  I want to thank all of the many departments and their leaders across the BET house for your unyielding support of the scripted team and the culture to which we all serve with gratitude and honor. I salute you and wish you all good things in the future.