The Multicultural Media Correspondents Association’s Diversity in the Media Industry: State of the Union forum provided insight from top entertainment and media executives regarding diversity in their fields, but also offered viewpoints from the cast of “The Hate U Give” – Actress Regina Hall, Actor Russell Hornsby, and Common, Hip-Hop Artist/Actor/Activist.
Congresswoman Val Demings of Florida, who hosted the forum with MMCA, told a packed audience: “The media is the most influential, most powerful means to reach the American people. It is more important than ever to get it right. The media shapes what people think, what they do, how they vote.”
MMCA Founder David Morgan says the goal is to ignite and sustain a call to action that results in a significant increase in the percentage of people of color that own and control media content, and an increase in diverse representation in news and entertainment behind and in front of the camera. He emphasized that MMCA is honored to have the support of Congresswoman Demings, who in May introduced the MMCA’s Media Diversity Resolution, H. Res 888, which reaffirms Congress’s commitment to media diversity.
Both Morgan and Representative Demings emphasized the importance of the bill and encouraged people to sign the petition. As diversity in the media has “barely improved” in the 50 years since the Kerner Commission issued its alarming report on the state of diversity in the media, and that its social, political and economic ramifications continue to plague the country.
Tirrell D. Whittley, CEO of Liquid Soul, moderated the panel, which was presented in two parts. Valuable input was provided by Zahir McGhee, Co-Creator and Executive Producer of “Scandal” at ABC Studios; Foster Driver, Vice President, Production, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Production; Tahirah Gooden, Original Film, Netflix; Winsome Sinclair, Casting Director, Producer, WSA International LLC; Amy DuBois Barnett, Executive Vice President, Digital & Chief Content Officer at the Grio; and Cheryl Grace, Senior Vice President of U.S. Strategic Community Alliances/Consumer Engagement, Nielsen.
Actors Regina Hall and Russell Hornsby stressed the importance of diversity behind the camera as well as in front of the camera. “We don’t have enough images that show how wonderful and colorful we are as human beings,” Hall said.
Actor and hip hop activist Common emphasized that young people must be exposed to entertainment industry jobs other than those in front of the camera. “They can be casting directors, cameramen, technicians,” he said. “They need to know what the business is about so they can aspire to these other jobs. They need to know that they can get behind the camera, and then they can have a job for life. Our young people need to be exposed to these opportunities.”
In addition to the forum, MMCA hosted a reception honoring “Congressional Media Diversity Champions” – Representatives Val Demings, Yvette Clarke and Hank Johnson. Partners of the MMCA forum and reception included Company, 20th Century Fox, Netflix and D. Morgan & Partners.