Finding Your Value and Audience While “Fixing TV”

Stage32.com
8 min readMar 17, 2023

There are two types of value, intrinsic and perceived. The Black Audience is intrinsically valuable. But the Industry’s perception is still lagging.

When I started out a few decades ago, folks would ask me, “What’s your major?” When I would answer, “Radio, TV & Film,” the retort would invariably be, “Oh, you’re going to learn how to fix TVs.”

“I’m going to make TV programs and produce films,” I protested.

There would be a blank look on the person’s face. “Can you make money doing that?”

That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it?

So, it was in that vein that I, a self-assured, young Black man, walked into the William Morris Agency in NYC and asked the receptionist if an agent was available to look at my script. After some time, she emerged and gave me an agent’s card, and I handed her my script. Hollywood here I come! It ultimately became my first rejection, but not my last.

I would get up at 4am before going to work to write screenplays. I got so many rejections saying mostly they weren’t “commercial” enough. Code for too Black, I’m sure.

Those days should be over, yes? Hollywood is smartening up, no?

A study by McKinsey & Co. details how each year Hollywood leaves more than $10 billion on the table by not addressing persistent racial inequities.

Stats:

  • In 2012 when “blacks” were asked: “What types of Black-oriented programs would you like to see more of, “the majority answered more documentaries (75%), history (71%), arts (68%), independent films (65%)
  • The U.S. Black population is 47 million strong. Larger than 163 of the 195 countries in the world including Argentina, Poland, Canada and Australia. With an annual buying power ($1.6 trillion) on par with the gross domestic product of The Netherlands, Indonesia, and Switzerland, this consumer segment is not one to ignore.
  • African Americans continue to watch more TV than any other group per capita
  • Black folks are early…

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