November 11, 2015

Diversity Week Overview

There’s no way to capture the full effect of Diversity Week. The National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC) and Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT) combined to offer some of the most compelling and motivational events of the year. The media and entertainment industry certainly benefitted from both programs. To culminate the week, the Kaitz Foundation’s Annual Dinner brought together attendees in one signature event.

“For sure, I could not be where I am today without the help of others and that is exactly what the Kaitz Foundation is all about – giving breaks and helping hardworking, culturally diverse men and women to achieve their won American Dream within our industry.”
Rocco Commisso, Founder and CEO, Mediacom Communications Corporation

The Kaitz Foundation Dinner – One Action Makes a Difference

The much-anticipated gala marked the Walter Kaitz Foundation’s commitment to diversity. On hand for the evening’s event was Del Henry, who along with Ray Joslin made the the initial contribution to launch the Foundation. Now, 32 years later, the Foundation remains a powerful agent, reinforcing the efforts of organizations throughout the industry. Supporters and sponsors help push the dream further – the evening alone raised $1.4 million in funds to continue the necessary and critical work around diversity and inclusion. As much as the evening was about the work, it was also one of celebration and praise for those who have accomplished so much. Presenting the Diversity Champion Award to Univision President and CEO, Randy Falco allowed everyone to applaud the efforts of one company whose commitment and focuse make a difference. Mark your calendars for next year’s event taking place on September 21, 2016, in New York.

“Our mission to inform, entertain and empower the Hispanic community serves to connect our community with the opportunities and possibilities that American society has to offer. That also includes providing them a voice, when necessary, so that Hispanics can be part of the national conversation.”
Diversity Champion Award Winner Randy Falco, President and CEO of Univision Communications Inc.

Norman Lear, Using Art To Advance Diversity, “Some of the systems must be broken.”

TV legend Norman Lear’s on-stage interview proved to be a highlight of the week. The 93 year-old producer and author displayed his charisma and wit during the L. Patrick Mellon Mentorship Program Luncheon, but most importantly, shared his candid thoughts on the industry’s slow moves on diversity. Answering interviewer Toure’s questions, Lear replied boldly that using the entertainment medium to expose “the ridiculousness of human behavior” promotes diversity and helps alleviate adversity. Read more about Norman Lear at: Black-Ish Creator Kenya Barris Talks Race, TV and Archie Bunker.

One YES Is All It Takes

Days apart, filmmaker Spike Lee and TV Host Hoda Kotb each gave an identical message to Diversity Week audiences. Tone and delivery may have been markedly different, but the takeaway was the same. Both reminded us that it only takes a single yes to lead to successful life ventures.

Hoda Kotb Opens the Week

Kotb’s opening keynote at the WICT Conference shared how, following her graduation, 27 news directors rejected her. Discouraged but not defeated, she took a brief stop in Greenville, Mississippi that would launch of her now wildly successful career. Stan Sam, a station executive in the small town saw her promise and chose to hire her despite her lack of poise.

Spike: “Never underestimate the power of art.”

Filmmaker Spike Lee underscored the significance art as power at the NAMIC Leadership Conference. The industry veteran told the audience that every major film company in Hollywood turned down his soon-to-be-released film, Chi–raq. After a second read, Amazon agreed to back the film. Lee shared the trailer below with the eager audience, providing background on mastering the politics, theater and talent to pull off his vision.

Watch a trailer of the film Chi-raq below:

CHI-RAQ Trailer from 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks on Vimeo.