Kelly Edwards: Top TV Exec Talks Entertainment Diversity And Inclusion
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

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Kelly Edwards, NBCUniversal

NBCUniversal vice president Kelly Edwards has long since realized her childhood goal of becoming a studio executive, but today, she is still reaching out for more as she strives to make a difference in the lives of others. As the vice president of strategic initiatives and diversity for the entertainment and digital networks/integrated media at NBCUniversal, the California-bred Edwards yields considerable influence at the newly minted entertainment giant, which boasts one of entertainment’s best reputations for diversity and inclusion.

A graduate of Vassar College, Edwards began her career as a casting assistant working for directors John Hughes, Francis Ford Coppola, Rob Reiner before moving on as a reader at New Line and then a film development executive for director Garry Marshall,  and producer Laura Ziskin. Shifting gears, she ventured into television holding several key positions in comedy development at the Fox Broadcasting Co., (where she helped to create the television series Two Guys, A Girl, and a Pizza Place, Living Single, Clueless, The Wild Thornberry’s and Ned and Stacey). Edwards is also responsible for identifying stand-ups such as Bernie Mac, Chris Rock, D.L. Hughley, and Dave Chappelle and helping many of them move into scripted television.

Joining UPN as the Senior Vice President of Comedy Development, Edwards established that network’s first successful comedy block with Girlfriends, One on One, and The Parkers.  She also developed popular programs for the Cartoon Network (Home Movies, Dilbert) and Fox’s Malcolm in the Middle. While at UPN, Edwards co-founded Colour TV, a networking group for diverse creative executives.  Colour TV has now branched into Colour Film, Colour TV East, and Colour Assistants, which are all designed to connect current and future industry executives with one another.

Edwards brings a solid background and considerable experience to her new role at NBCUniversal. With an impressive list of accomplishments in both film and television, she is an executive with the clout and connection to get things done. spoke with Edwards about key issues around diversity in Hollywood. Why is diversity important?

Kelly Edwards: Whether you are talking about ethnic, gender, age, economic or diversity of orientation, I truly believe that having different opinions, experiences, and voices in a room creates a much more interesting product. And on a purely business level, we’ve seen an incredible shift in the population recently. The multicultural audience now represents nearly $4 trillion of spending power. And for NBCUniversal, making sure that audience is included both in front of and behind the camera is very important.

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Gil Robertson

Gil Robertson IV is a noted A&E and African American lifestyle journalist. During his 20 year career he has written for the Los Angeles Times and Atlanta Journal Constitution, over 50 national magazine cover and for some of the leading sites on the web. He is also the editor of the nationally syndicated lifestyle column, Robertson Treatment that appears in 30 markets nationwide. A co-founder and President of the African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA), Robertson is the producer of the AAFCA Awards, which has grown into a premiere event on the Hollywood Awards calendar. As an author, Robertson is the editor of the best -selling 2009 anthologies Family Affair: What it Means to be African American Today, (selected as “Pick of the Week” by Publisher’s Weekly), and the 2006 release, Not in My Family: AIDS in the African American Community, both nominated for NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Nonfiction. He is also the author of Writing as a Tool of Empowerment, a resource book for aspiring journalists, and is a regular contributor to The African American Almanac (Gale Press). He recently completed his first Children’s book, 21st Century Great African American Political Leaders (Just Us Books), and a new anthology, Where Did Our Love Go: Personal Essays on Love & Relationships in the African American Community. Robertson earned a B.A. degree in Political Science from Cal State Los Angeles