Top TV Exec Talks Entertainment Diversity and Inclusion

Kelly Edwards of NBCUniversal strives to keep multi-ethnic presence prevalent

Despite the best efforts of many, why has diversity remained such an issue in the film and TV industries?

While I don’t think this has happened as quickly as we’d like, I do think that with the increased attention on diversity you are seeing now across the industry, things are beginning to change. More and more, diversity and inclusion are becoming part of the daily dialogue.  And the conversation is evolving. We no longer have to convince people that diversity is the right thing to do or good for business; rather, we are now discussing how we can implement change. 

What types of efforts are being made at NBC/Universal to combat this problem?

Comcast’s acquisition of NBCUniversal brought diversity to the forefront in a new way.  Each division now has someone designated to implement diversity initiatives which is a huge leap in the right direction for us as well as for the entire industry.  My hope is that other companies will follow our lead.

GR: How important are African American executives in “curing” the diversity problem in film and TV?

African American executives are critical to the success of diversity.  We need African American voices in the boardroom so that when the big decisions are being made there is a balance of perspectives being offered.  And we need to see them rise in the ranks to give those who come up behind them hope for their own careers.

Personally, my greatest support and guidance has come from mentors like Chief Diversity Officer Craig Robinson and former CDO, Paula Madison, advocates like NBCUniversal SVP of programming Bruce Evans, and peer coaches like the women who come to the Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit each year with me.

What are your long-term goals?

The good news about this company is that as we continue to refine our strategies around diversity, the job continues to evolve.  As long as I’m developing new skills and stretching myself in ways I couldn’t have otherwise imagined, I feel challenged.

I’ve just joined a new division within NBCUniversal under Chairman Lauren Zalaznick called the Entertainment & Digital Networks and Integrated Media which houses Bravo, Oxygen, Style, Sprout, Telemundo, mun2, iVillage, Daily Candy, Fandango and some of the Integrated Media marketing initiatives.  What I love about this group is that there are so many different aspects to it — reality programming, digital, Spanish language, children’s programming, and marketing — there’s still a great deal to learn.

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