Category: Business/Finance

business and finance

Sylvia Rhone Rises from President to Chairman & CEO of Epic Records

Sylvia Rhone (photo via twitter.com)

According to Variety.com, Sony Music Entertainment announced today the promotion of Sylvia Rhone to Chairman and CEO of Epic Records. In this role, Rhone will lead the overall creative direction and management of Epic Records, overseeing Epic’s roster of hit-making artists such as Travis Scott, Future, Camila Cabello, 21 Savage, Meghan Trainor, DJ Khaled, and French Montana

Rhone has been President of Epic Records since 2014, and since then has overseen projects including Scott’s 2018 best-selling album “Astroworld”; Camila Cabello’s debut album “Camila” and the smash single “Havana,” as well as music from Future, 21 Savage and others.

“I am excited to continue my amazing journey at Epic Records supported by Rob Stringer’s vision and leadership,” stated Rhone. “Everything we do is a testament to our incredible artists who set the bar of the entire Epic culture, inspiring our dedicated executive team every day and enriching the legacy of this great label.”

Before joining Sony Music, Rhone was President of Universal Motown Records and Executive Vice President at Universal Records from 2004. From 1994-2004, Rhone was Chairman and CEO of Warner Music Group’s Elektra Entertainment Group, the first African American woman to be named Chairman of a major record company, where she oversaw releases from artists such as Missy Elliott, Busta Rhymes, Metallica, Staind, Third Eye Blind, Tracy Chapman, and Natalie Merchant. Rhone began her career at Buddah Records in 1974, a label best-known for its Gladys Knight and the Pips albums. 

Rhone is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania‘s well-regarded Wharton Business School. She received an honorary doctorate from the Berklee College of Music on April 5, 2019, in recognition of her achievements as a leading female music executive who has headed labels multiple times during her career.

Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY to Open Independent Movie Theater, Offer Grants For Film Festivals

Ava Duvernay (photo via commons.wikipedia.org)

According to Tambay Obenson‘s article on indiewire.com, filmmaker Ava DuVernay‘s distribution company ARRAY is building a state-of-the-art, 50-set movie theater, which will be able to screen independent movies as well as be available for rental. To quote the article:

“Located west of downtown Los Angeles — a part of the city that doesn’t house many media moguls — it’s also the area’s only independent theater. And it comes at a time when exhibitors are apoplectic over the impact of Netflix and other major streaming companies.

ARRAY VP Tilane Jones said that’s one reason they chose to open it. “It’s really a labor of love, which is all driven by a desire to be in service of people,” Jones said. “Our filmmakers and our audience.”

The ARRAY library is an eclectic selection of independent films, many of which were directed by women and/or people of color, united by singular visions and themes of social justice — a template that mainstream distributors often dismiss out of hand. For DuVernay, who worked as a movie marketer and publicist for more than 14 years, this represented an opportunity.”

ARRAY is also working to create opportunities for filmmakers of color. Last year, ARRAY teamed up with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and producer Dan Lin to launch the Evolve Entertainment Fund, which provides promotion, grants, and gap financing for communities historically excluded from the entertainment industry.

ARRAY Alliance, which is the company’s non-profit division, plans to create grants for African American, Latino and Asian American film festivals, societies and clubs, as well as support the screenings, curriculum, and teacher training that will help young audiences learn the value of art, independent film, and social justice.

To read more, go to: https://www.indiewire.com/2019/04/ava-duvernay-array-affrm-burial-of-kojo-1202053860/

T.I. Honored by Georgia Senate For His Philanthropy

T.I. (photo by ConcertTour.org via commons.wikipedia.org)

Grammy Award-winning hip hop artist, actor and Atlanta native T.I. was honored at the Georgia State Capitol last Friday.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Democratic State Senator Donzella James sponsored a resolution applauding T.I. (née Clifford Joseph Harris, Jr.), for spearheading several non-profit organizations, including Harris Community Works, which works with the disadvantaged, and For The Love of Our Fathers, which aids people with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

T.I. is also credited for mentoring youth at local area schools in his hometown, hosting Thanksgiving turkey drives and delivering Christmas presents to families in need throughout Atlanta. He also started a real estate company called Buy Back The Block to help rebuild his old neighborhood in the Center Hill section of Atlanta.

Serena Williams Works With Bumble Founder Whitney Wolfe Herd to Help Women Entrepreneurs of Color Raise Capital

Tennis legend and global icon Serena Williams recently announced via Instagram she is working with Bumble app founder Whitney Wolfe Herd on creating opportunities for women entrepreneurs of color to pitch to them and receive investment capital for their business ideas via Bumble Fund. Check out her post below – you can apply through the app until this Wednesday, March 27 – or you can click here!

Gucci and Dapper Dan Announce $5M Changemakers Initiative Aimed at Diversity and Inclusion

Since being under fire for its balaclava sweater that resembled blackface, luxury brand Gucci is attempting to redeem itself. According to harpersbazaar.com, the Italian fashion house has announced a new global program and scholarship fund called Gucci Changemakers that will promote diversity and inclusion throughout the company with a multi-step action plan.

The program includes three tiers: the Gucci Changemakers Fund, a scholarship program, and a company-wide volunteering initiative. All three programs intend to foster racial diversity within the company as well as the fashion industry as a whole. Legendary designer Dapper Dan, who launched a street style-themed collection for Gucci last year, has been working with Gucci to develop Changemakers. Dan took to Instagram yesterday to publicize these steps towards progress:

Time will tell if these actions will be enough to redeem the brand and establish true inclusion and equity, but with DeRay McKesson, will.i.am, writer/activist Brittany Packnett as part of the Changemakers Council as well, Gucci is at least setting itself up to be held accountable.

The Gill Brothers, 13, 10 and 8, Launch Frères Branchiaux, an Eco-Friendly Candle Brand Now in Macy’s

From left, brothers Collin, Austin and Ryan Gill run Freres Branchiaux. (Chanel Jaali Photography)

According to the Washington Post, brothers Collin, 13, Ryan, 10, and Austin Gill, 8, started their candle business Frères Branchiaux for two reasons: to afford the Nerf guns and video games they wanted and, more importantly, to help raise money to combat homelessness in the District.

“I want to give back to the community because they gave to us,” Ryan says.

The brothers donate 10 percent of their proceeds to homeless shelters in the area, a promise they’ve kept since launching Frères Branchiaux in 2017.

Demand has grown rapidly for their scented, soy-based candles, which can be purchased at several stores in D.C. and at select Macy’s across the country.

The Gill brothers are pretty busy with school and their business, so they would make the most of a D.C. dream day and explore some of their favorite places around the city, along with a few new ones.

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/express/2019/01/24/gill-brothers-freres-branchiaux-would-spend-their-dc-dream-day-exploring-new-spots-with-plenty-ice-cream-involved/?utm_term=.0bd244c58443

BHM: Let’s Honor Oprah! Entrepreneur, Media Maven, Philanthropist, Actor, Influencer… Genius

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Not many people on Earth have their names become synonymous with genius in their profession, let alone genius in general. Einstein, Shakespeare, Mozart, even Spielberg and Prince easily come to mind. Notably, they are all men, mostly White, and only one is known by his first name. But when you say, “Hey, where are the women? What women do you think of when someone says ‘Who are the geniuses?,'” an immediate response would (or should) be… Oprah.

It may seem like opinion, but I want to go on record that saying “Oprah Winfrey is a genius” is a fact, and one that should be touted widely. Oprah’s status as a cultural icon, media mogul and inspirational leader is taken as a given, but when you look back and reflect on her journey from rural poverty in Mississippi to global icon, you too will recognize how much intelligence, excellence and genius it took to get there and what’s more – stay there.

What follows below in regards to recognizable achievement, vision and success rightfully will only add credence to the “Oprah Winfrey is a genius” fact, but I submit that the secret sauce of Oprah’s claim to that title has been best articulated (and realized) by Oprah herself:

Everybody has a calling. And your real job in life is to figure out as soon as possible what that is, who you were meant to be, and to begin to honor that in the best way possible for yourself. – Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Gail Winfrey, originally named “Orpah” after the biblical figure in the Book of Ruth but had it misspelled and mispronounced so much that “Oprah”  stuck, recently celebrated her 65th birthday on January 29, 1954. Winfrey was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi, to Vernita Lee, an unmarried teenage mother and housemaid, and Vernon Winfrey, a coal miner turned barber turned city councilman who had been in the Armed Forces when Oprah was born.

According to wikipedia.org, Winfrey spent her first six years living with her maternal grandmother, Hattie Mae Lee, who was so poor that Winfrey often wore dresses made of potato sacks, and the local children made fun of her. Her grandmother, ever in Oprah’s corner, taught her to read before the age of three and took her to church, where she was nicknamed “The Preacher” for her preternatural ability to recite Bible verses and command the stage.

Despite parental neglect from her mother, sexual abuse by family members from the age of nine, and the stillbirth of a son at age 14, Oprah’s intellect and ability to speak powerfully in public earned her a full ride to HBCU Tennessee State University on an Oratory Scholarship.

As Oprah honed her skills through education and experience, she became the youngest news anchor and the first black female news anchor at Nashville’s WLAC-TV. Oprah then became an anchor in the larger market of Baltimore, MD before taking over the hosting position of low-rated AM Chicago in 1984.

Oprah aligned her talents, smarts, professionalism and relatability to catapult her over Phil Donahue’s long-venerated talk show Donahue for the top-rated slot. Oprah then wisely took advice from movie critic Roger Ebert to make a syndication deal with King World Media and have ownership in her program – the beginning of the Oprah brand.

The Oprah Winfrey Show debuted September 8, 1986 and topped daytime talk show ratings for 25 years until she retired from the show. Oprah really hit her stride and pinpointed her brand when she followed her instincts in the 1990s to shift away from “tabloid-style” shows to ones with a focus on literature, self-improvement, mindfulness and spirituality. Even though she briefly took a ratings dip during the change, she soared to the top again and outlasted several popular talk show hosts of the time such as Sally Jesse Raphael, Ricki Lake, Montel Williams, Donahue, Jenny Jones, and Jerry Springer. Continue reading “BHM: Let’s Honor Oprah! Entrepreneur, Media Maven, Philanthropist, Actor, Influencer… Genius”

NJ Assemblywoman Angela McKnight and Financial Blogger Tiffany Aliche Create Bill to Teach Middle Schoolers Money Management

The signing of Bill A1414 (Assemblywoman Angela McKnight, 3rd from left; Acting Governor Shiela Oliver, seated. Credit: Anthony McKnight)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to hellobeautiful.com, middle school students in New Jersey are about to get some much-needed education about finances thanks in part to two women determined to make sure they learn how to understand and handle money.

Financial educator Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche and Assemblywoman Angela McKnight worked in tandem to draft and advocate a financial literacy bill that would give growing children a fighting chance at the future.

Financial Literacy Bill A1414 instructs the New Jersey State Board of Education to require school districts to incorporate financial literacy instruction into curriculums for enrolled students in grades 6 through 8. Middle schoolers will be presented with vital information that has the potential to change the course of their lives by preparing them to properly evaluate their finances and deal with debt as adults.

First introduced by McKnight in 2016, the bill gained co-sponsorship from Assembly Democrats Nicholas Chiaravalloti, Eliana Pintor Marin, Jamel Holley, Benjie Wimberly and Annette Quijano. A1414 was signed into law by the state’s Acting Governor (and first ever black Lieutenant Governor) Sheila Oliver this Thursday at Jersey City’s PS 34 President Barack Obama School.

“Early financial literacy should be an essential part of every school curriculum, because it’s a critical skill needed for success in adulthood,” said Aliche via press release. “Today New Jersey took a historic leap forward in helping our children secure a brighter future. Today was a manifestation of why I started The Budgetnista; to help give people the tools the need to live richer lives,” she continued.

Regarding the bill, McKnight said, “One of the most important lessons a person can learn is how to manage their money. Many young people go into adulthood knowing little about finances, and end up making decisions that cost them in the long run.”

McKnight added, “Teaching our kids early about the importance of managing their money and making sound financial decisions can prevent them from making costly mistakes and set them on the right financial path.”

Coca-Cola Executive G. Scott Uzzell Named President & CEO of Converse, Inc. by NIKE

by Ny Magee via thegrio.com

NIKE has named Florida A&M University alumni and FAMU Foundation Board member, G. Scott Uzzell, President and CEO of Converse, Inc., the company announced Friday, Dec 21.

According to The AP, Uzzell comes to Converse from The Coca-Cola Company where he most recently served as President, Venturing & Emerging Brands Group (VEB).

“Scott’s unique blend of experience driving both strategic business growth and strong brand development is well-suited to help unlock the full potential of the Converse Brand and lead its next phase of growth globally,” said Michael Spillane, President, Categories and Product, NIKE, Inc.

Uzzell began his career in sales and marketing at various companies, including Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Nabisco and has held leadership positions at brands such as  McDonald’s U.S. Division. Is that’s not impressive enough he reportedly serves on the boards of State Bank and Trust Co., Fairlife LLC and Suja Juice Co.

As head of Coca-Cola’s VEB Group, Uzzell led the development portfolio of high-growth brands for The Coca-Cola Company, including Honest Tea, ZICO Coconut Water, Fairlife Milk and Suja Juice, famunews.com reports.

Uzzell holds an MBA from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Florida A&M. He is also a member of the FAMU’s Foundation Board as well as a member of the Executive Leadership Council (ELC).

Uzzell starts work at Converse on Jan. 22 and will report directly to Michael Spillane, President, Categories and Product, NIKE, Inc. Uzzell reportedly replaces Davide Grassowho retires at the end of the year.

Source: https://thegrio.com/2018/12/22/nike-names-hbcu-alum-g-scott-uzzell-president-ceo-of-converse/

Former ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey Joins Netflix as VP of Original Content

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Credit: Photo by Matt Baron/REX/Shutterstock

According to Variety.com, outgoing ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey is joining Netflix as Vice President of Original Content for the streaming service. Dungey will report to Cindy Holland, also Vice President of Original Content, and will officially start working there in February.

“We’re delighted to be adding Channing’s expertise, leadership and deep experience to Netflix, and I look forward to partnering with her as we continue to grow and evolve our global network,” said Holland. “I have been a fan of her character and approach from our early days as executives.”

Dungey is to partner with Holland in setting strategic direction as well as in overseeing a large portion of Netflix’s slate, including some of the company’s overall deals with former ABC-based producers Shonda Rhimes and Kenya Barris, “Orange Is The New Black” and “Glow” producer Jenji Kohan, “Unreal” and “Girlfriends’ Guide To Divorce” producer Marti Noxon, producer Steven DeKnight, and Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions, among others.

“Channing is a creative force whose taste and talent have earned her the admiration of her peers across the industry,” said Ted Sarandos, chief content officer of Netflix. “She’s a risk taker and ground-breaker and talent love working with her. I couldn’t be happier to welcome her to Netflix.”

Prior to presiding over ABC, Dungey lead the network’s drama development team. She helped develop several popular shows in that role, including huge hits “Scandal” and “How to Get Away With Murder.” Other shows she shepherded during that time include “Quantico,” “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “American Crime,” and “Once Upon a Time.”

“I’m drawn to the forward-thinking, risk-taking and creative culture at Netflix, and the deeply talented people there, especially Ted and Cindy, with whom I’m excited to partner on setting the strategy for original content,” said Dungey. “Given that ABC, the place I’ve called home for nearly 15 years, represents the gold standard of traditional broadcast, it feels like the perfect next step for me to join Netflix, the unparalleled leader in streaming. I’m invigorated by the challenges ahead and the opportunity to forge new relationships, and excited for the very welcome reunion with incredible talent.”

Dungey also famously canceled ABC’s revival of “Roseanne” after series star and creator Roseanne Barr tweeted that former Obama administration aide Valerie Jarrett, who is black, looked like a cross between the “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes [sic].”

Dungey previously partnered with Pamela Post at Dexterity Pictures, a production partnership focused on making both studio and independent films, as well as developing television series. She also served as president of Material, Jorge Saralegui‘s film production company based at Warner Bros. Prior to that, she worked for five years as a Warner Bros. production executive.

Dungey, a magna cum laude graduate of  UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television, has been a visiting professor there and serves on the school’s executive board. She is also a founding and current board member of Step Up, a national non-profit membership organization dedicated to helping girls living in under-resourced communities to fulfill their educational potential.