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BCE Conference Part 1: Creatives Talk Access, Equity in LA

Wes Jackson stands behind podium reading Bill Bordy Media Conference Center
BCE Program Director Wes Jackson introduces Trustee and speaker Doug Holloway ’76 at Emerson Los Angeles on Saturday, February 5.

As creatives, we all dream of making decisions in the studios, sets, and newsrooms we work our whole careers to get into. The 2022 Business of Creative Enterprises (BCE) Conference, “(dis)enfranchisement: Getting a Seat at the Table,” looks to make that dream attainable for everybody.

“There will always be someone who needs a seat at the table,” Professor and Marketing Communication Chair Dr. Brent Smith said. “As we make a way for ourselves, we need to make a way for others. As we are looking for bridges, we may have to reflect on how we can be the bridge for someone else. As we find opportunities, we might need to become the opportunity. ” 

Read: Turning Exclusion into Inclusion at at BCE Conference 2020

BCE Program Director Wes Jackson kicked off part one of the event live from the Emerson Los Angeles campus with a discussion with Emerson Trustee and President of Homewood Media Doug Holloway ‘76. 

Though he came to Emerson with dreams of directing TV dramas, Holloway was soon advised by his Black mentors to envision where he wanted to be in 20 years and write his resume in reverse. Setting his sights on his goal to become the president of a television companyn – unheard of for a Black man in 1974 — Halloway evaluated the steps he needed to take to achieve this dream. 

“I wanted to direct drama on big-time television [but] I didn’t feel the support nor the understanding from the Emerson community…In my soul searching, I decided I didn’t actually [want to be a director]. During the ‘70s, we as young people thought we could do almost anything if we put our minds and efforts to it…so I managed to write my resume in reverse…and decided to pursue a career in the business of television and work my way up,” Halloway said.

screen shot of Michael Traylor on Zoom

Keynote

Shifting focus from the 1970s to the 2010s, Michael Traylor, associate general counsel at Facebook parent company Meta, spoke on the nature of entrepreneurship, content creation, and technology in a market that is constantly growing. 

“We have all become a lot more comfortable with consuming content in different ways, so it is harder to aggregate the success of entertainment properties,” Traylor said. “Those things are constantly changing [as is] the popularity and desirability of entrepreneurship…so you have to redefine what you mean by success… How do you get your seat at the table? Well, it’s not a table anymore, it’s a convention center.”

Noting the universal reality of feeling excluded, Traylor offers advice for how to move forward when faced with disenfranchisement. 

“If and when you feel disenfranchised, reach out and help someone who feels more disenfranchised than you…The thing that is more rewarding than being invited to the table is helping someone else get to the table,” Traylor said. “You will be surprised at the impact that has on you and your own career goals. The ability to help other people be successful is extremely valuable.”

Panelists

The event also featured panel discussions on the cannabis industry, sports management and negotiation, and the world of streaming. Select highlights were:

  • On the Cannabis Social Equity Program: “The program is designed to make people feel the weight of being an executive. People who have been disproportionately [disenfranchised] have the skills or desire to be an owner in the space,” Jon Heredia, adjunct professor at The Cannabis Law Clinic at Golden Gate University. “If we can look outside of just ownership and require businesses to hire Social Equity applicants, that would level the playing field so it’s not so top-focused.”
  • On first steps for young creatives: “You have to pick the path that’s best for you. Starting your career in the industry is safer, but if you have your eyes on the prize, there is a really great lane for a lateral hire coming from a different space,” WME Sports Agent and Executive Cecil White explained. “Attack your weak points. Don’t be afraid of what it takes to get better. Once you combine that with what you’re inherently good at, you’ll be really powerful.”
  • On culture-building in music streaming: “Streaming companies now have this cultural responsibility….When you work in music you have to be culturally aware and culturally relevant…It’s key you have the proper people in places across all genres, not just hip hop, that build out culture. People have to be very knowledgeable in their respective lanes,” Pandora Senior Director of Artist Relations Ryan Hobbs said.

Part Two – Boston

Part two of the conference will be held on the Boston campus this Saturday, February 12 at 10:00 am. 

With both in-person and virtual registration options, participants on both coats will have access to a diverse lineup of speakers, including keynote speakers Christina Norman, head of content for the National Basketball Players Association, and Lorrie Boula, president and founder of Soul Kitchen Music.

The event will also be streaming live on YouTube.

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