Diversify TV is the brainchild of David Cornwall, Liliane Da Cruz, Nick Smith and Bunmi Akintonwa.
It started back in 2015 at the global content market MIPTV as informal drinks to help forge connections between those who were passionate about increasing diversity, and improving representation in the Television industry. It was a humble beginning but for the 20 or so guests who turned up many new connections and friendships were born.
Whilst the consensus was that the drinks were a success and should be repeated at MIPCOM in October, the ambition was always to do more. By calling in several favours they were able to secure a more central location and achieve the stunning result of a talk by Sean Cohan, EVP International, A+E Networks and Michael Armstrong, EVP International Viacom. Word quickly spread and the event had attendees spilling out on to the street. The interest in the event convinced the team of the need to formalise the group and make plans to take activities to the next level.
A year after the first event they were thrilled to receive a talk from David Ellender, President, Global Distribution and Co-Productions at Sonar Entertainment to do so. Once again it was a full house and in addition to remarks from David Ellender, attendees also got to hear from the actors Anika Noni Rose and LeVar Burton. Please see highlights video below:
Around this time DiversifyTV was officially formed with David, Nick, Bunmi and Liliane on the board. Liliane agreed to make her employers, Reed Midem (organisers of the MIP markets) aware of what they had been doing and encourage them to discuss partnering with DiversifyTV to promote increased diversity in the industry. Reed Midem embraced the idea and over a period of many months, the two groups planned a Diversity Summit which took place at MIPCOM 2016 (highlights below).
At MIPCOM in October 2016 Reed Midem chose to award producer, writer and showrunner Shonda Rhimes MIPCOM personality of the Year, the first black woman to be bestowed with this honour. Shonda gave a keynote at the conference and the DiversifyTV team were invited to a dinner in her honour.
The DiversifyTV party that night at Club C21 went down in memory!
After arranging such big events at MIPCOM 2016, it was decided that for the smaller MIPTV market in 2017, Diversify TV would go back to having another drinks networking and make plans for another big event at MIPCOM.
Nick put forward the idea of hosting an awards ceremony to recognise the top-quality shows that shine a light on diverse communities and encourage better understanding and representation of minorities. He was keen that rather than be judged by industry peers like most award shows, that the DiversifyTV Excellence awards would be judged by the communities that were so often poorly represented. This was positively received by the team and so Liliane brought colleagues from Reed Midem onboard, and alongside the Diversify TV team, planned not just the awards, but a full diversity and inclusion programme for MIPCOM.
More can be read about the Diversify TV awards here other DE&I events held during MIPCOM 2017 included a Diversity lunch, panels and a keynote from comedian Sir Lenny Henry (highlights below).