The Debt: Black Equity in Mainstream Culture
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility have become frequently used terms to define our industry’s commitment to fairness. Efforts on-screen and behind the scenes are being made to address underserved interests. The most intriguing term is Equity, as it suggests the existence of a stakeholder interest. Beyond the deal making proficiency of Black Hollywood participants, what stake holding interest does the Black community have in the commercialization of our culture and lived experience? How is the Black community recognized for its contribution to what frequently evolves toward a synthesized mainstream culture? How can Black Hollywood participants serve as proxies on behalf of their community of origin?
The NAACP convenes a panel of industry creatives, storytellers and executives to discuss these questions and to further elaborate on the role Equity plays.
Kyle BowserSVP Hollywood Bureau, NAACP
Kyle Bowser serves as the Senior Vice President of the NAACP Hollywood Bureau. In this capacity, Mr. Bowser is responsible for advancing NAACP’s Hollywood projects, relationships, and overseeing NAACP’s Image Awards production.
For nearly three decades, Kyle Bowser has worked as an entertainment industry executive. His experience spans film, television, music, theater, radio, and digital media. This immersion within a vast sphere of media interests has provided Bowser with unique insight into the intersecting parameters of the arts, culture, business development, and emerging technologies.
Bowser’s career began in theater management and concert promotion. His involvement in television began with NBC Business Affairs in New York City. He later moved to Los Angeles to join Fox, Inc., where he developed television programming of multiple genres and creatively managed primetime fare aired on the Fox Broadcasting Company. Bowser next served as Director of Creative Affairs for HBO Independent Productions, where he developed new programs and creatively supervised content licensed to primetime broadcast carriers. Throughout Bowser’s storied career, his producing talents have been engaged by countless media companies, including NBC, Fox, HBO, Showtime, Starz, Comedy Central, Lifetime, Cooking Channel, PBS, iNDemand, Facebook, Warner Bros., Harper Collins, AEG, the NFL, and more.
A native of Philadelphia, PA, Kyle Bowser received his Bachelor of Science degree from Ohio University in Radio/Television Communications and earned his Juris Doctor degree from Widener University School of Law. He was admitted to the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Bar Associations and supports the Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyers Association and the National Association of Multi-Ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC) – for whom he founded the annual Vision Awards and received its coveted Legacy Award.
Ivan J. Juzang Founder and President of MEE (Motivational Educational Entertainment) Productions Inc.Ivan J. JuzangFounder and President of MEE (Motivational Educational Entertainment) Productions Inc.
Ivan J. Juzang, Founder and President of MEE (Motivational Educational Entertainment) Productions Inc., has more than three decades of first-hand experience running a behavioral health communications business he founded during his final year at The Wharton Graduate School of Business. Juzang has used market research, culturally-relevant media and community engagement to address health disparities and mental health issues affecting low-income, underserved and devalued communities across the country and around the globe. He conducts qualitative audience research that provides an “insider’s view” of the challenging daily realities of urban living, and combines it with creative, “outside-the-box” media production and grassroots community mobilization strategies. His work speaks to and incorporates the oral tradition (oral communications culture) to shift attitudes and influence behaviors.
For more than 30 years, Juzang and MEE have been profiling the trendsetting culture of low-income Black youth and the ways that stereotypical mass-media images negatively impact an already-traumatized and marginalized Black community. MEE first gained national prominence in 1992, with the release of its primary research study, “The MEE Report: Reaching the Hip-Hop Generation.” Funded by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the report focused on the previously unexplored cultural and communications dynamics of urban teens. MEE’s 2004 youth sexuality study, “This is My Reality-The Price of Sex: An Inside Look at Black Urban Youth Sexuality and the Role of Media,” also received national media attention because it added young people’s voices to the dialogue about sex in America’s inner cities. MEE’s 2010 study, “Moving Beyond Survival Mode: Promoting Mental Wellness and Resiliency as a Way to Cope with Urban Trauma” explored issues related to stress, trauma and promoting mental wellness in low-income African American communities. Juzang’ s legacy of insightful focus-group research includes, “The Inner-City Truth 3 Survey” (2013), “Tackling America’s Opioid Epidemic From the Ground Up” (2015) and “Heard, Not Judged: Insights Into the Talents and Realities and Needs of Young Men of Color” (2016).
Juzang received his BS degree in Mechanical Engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University, and his MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. While MEE has primarily been focused on health disparities, Juzang has extensive private-sector experience with some of the biggest and most successful entertainment media brands and makers of Hollywood content. His market research on more than 60 movie/TV projects for Hollywood has validated MEE’s model across sectors and over time.
Kelle RozellChief Marketing & Storytelling Officer, Color Of Change
Kelle Rozell is the founder of the Black Dollar Index and currently the Chief Marketing &
Storytelling Officer for Color Of Change, with over 19 years of experience in media and
entertainment. Throughout her time working for major record labels and television networks,
Kelle has established herself as a seasoned marketer and storyteller, creating award winning
campaigns for companies such as ABC News, A&E TV, truTV (Turner Broadcasting), and
VICELAND (Vice Media).
While navigating corporate America, Kelle has always championed diverse narratives and used
moments and positions of power to advance and advocate for underrepresented voices, from
pushing for multicultural intern classes to ensuring content reflects diverse demographics.
In February of 2021, Kelle and a team of other Black professionals launched the Black Dollar
Index (BDI), a Black consumer advocacy platform that sits at the intersection of economic and
racial justice, holding corporations accountable for their pledges to Black America by scoring
their efforts across critical factors. BDI was born out of a personal commitment to help end
systemic racism and a testament to the importance of corporate transparency and
accountability in the mission.
Kelle is a Cleveland native turned New Yorker (20 years!), who lives in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn with
her Miniature Pinscher Darby. When Kelle is not working, she enjoys connecting with her family
and friends, listening to a good R&B playlist, and attempting to play golf.
Kelle joined Color Of Change in January of 2022 and is leading the Marketing & Storytelling
team in building narrative power for the movement, creating tools to hold corporations
accountable, and elevating Black voices and communities.
Brandan "BMIKE" OdumsArtist + Activist
Brandan “BMIKE” Odums is a highly sought after visual artist and filmmaker who uses these chosen mediums to tell stories and make statements that transform the minds of viewers as well as the spaces in which his work appears.
In 2016 Brandan debuted his first solo show in New Orleans in a 35,000 square foot warehouse named #StudioBe. Welcoming hundreds of visitors a week as well as school tours from around the region.
In 2013, Brandan completed a series of graffiti murals depicting iconic African American civil rights leaders at the Hurricane Katrina damaged Florida Avenue public housing complex in New Orleans’ 9th Ward. Given the name #ProjectBe, the space unexpectedly received national attention bringing spectators from all over to see the art before the deserted complex’s set demolition date.
Following the success of #ProjectBe, Brandan came across another abandoned five-story apartment building on the West Bank in New Orleans in 2014 and began working on #ExhibitBe. The completed space was the largest street art gathering in the South gaining national attention and welcoming over 30,000 visitors during its three-month opening.
Brandan’s other passions lie in the New Orleans community. He is the founder and director of 2-Cent Entertainment LLC – a New Orleans based youth education social enterprise that produces mixed media content and workshops in the overlap between pop culture and social awareness. Partnering with organizations like Scholastic and Better World Books to give away tens of thousands of books to local youth, 2-Cent services countless youth in New Orleans. 2-Cent Summer Session – media arts camp, in New Orleans currently entering its 4th year.
As a Filmmaker his directed music videos have appeared on MTV, VH1 and BET, Brandan has been honored as one of “20 Artist You Should Know” by Complex.com, Presidential volunteer award from the White House, and a Joan Mitchell Foundation Fellowship recipient.
Erika AlexanderActress and Activist
ERIKA ALEXANDER is beloved for her iconic acting roles as Maxine Shaw (Living Single; garnering two NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Actress/Comedy Series), “Detective Latoya” (Get Out), “Cousin Pam” (The Cosby Show), “Perenna” (Black Lightning), “Linda Diggs” (Wutang: An American Saga), “Barb Ballard” (Run The World; nominated for NAACP Best Guest Actor), and most recently as “Meredith Lockhart” in (Swimming with Sharks), the critically acclaimed Apple+ series starring Elisabeth Moss, Shining Girls as “Abby Keegan.” Upcoming projects for Alexander include the independent films WILDFLOWER (set to premiere at the Toronto Film Festival starring alongside Jean Smart, Kiernan Shipka and Alexadra Daddario), EARTH MAMA for A24, and T-Street / MRC’s “THE UNTITLED NOVELIST” project, directed by Cord Jefferson; with Jeffrey Wright, Tracy Ross and Sterling K. Williams.
Erika wears many hats; actress, trailblazing activist, entrepreneur, creator, producer and director — and is one of the country’s boldest, most daring, and powerful voices. As a creator, she recognizes the power of storytelling. And she believes that though content must be entertaining, when carefully constructed, stories have tremendous capacity to create impact and meaningful social change. As co-founder of Color Farm Media, she is on a mission to bring greater equity, inclusion, and diverse representation to both media and electoral politics.
Erika has boldly stepped into the arena of film director, with her debut film The Big Payback co-directed with Whitney Dow. The documentary chronicles the story of the first reparations bill in American history for African Americans.
A critical thought leader on racial and gender equity and leadership, Erika’s work in content reflects her deep commitment to social activism. She serves as a board member for One Fair Wage and Exponent, and is highly involved with many other social and racial justice orgs, including; The Poor People’s Campaign, Color of Change, NAACP, UNCF, and others.