Melissa Ingram aspired to be a high-profile music and leisure legal professional from an early age. Again then, the College of California, Berkeley College of Legislation grad had no concept that she would in the future turn into a high-powered cable TV govt who would change the face of tv.
“I used to be a type of youngsters that at all times kind of knew precisely what they needed to do. I knew I needed to go to Spelman College. I knew I needed to take up English after which go to legislation faculty, after which observe leisure legislation,” the Los Angeles native advised BLACK ENTERPRISE. “I by no means in 1,000,000 years thought that that might morph into me really being extra on the enterprise facet and doing loads of strategic planning and imaginative and prescient for a cable tv community.”
Climbing the Ladder
Ingram launched her profession in 2004 as an affiliate lawyer within the labor and employment group at one of many largest legislation corporations within the southeast, Alston & Bird, LLP in Atlanta, Georgia. In 2006, she started working as an affiliate lawyer with The Carter Legislation Agency, PC in downtown Atlanta, the place she represented impartial artists, songwriters, and labels. She additionally started consulting with what was often called the Gospel Music Channel earlier than it merged into UPtv. She joined the community full-time in 2009 as Counsel, Enterprise and Authorized Affairs. She stayed at UPtv when it partnered with NBA legend and entrepreneur Earvin “Magic” Johnson to launch AspireTV, a community that celebrates Black tradition and concrete life-style, in 2012. Ingram served because the Senior Director of Enterprise Affairs Growth and Senior Authorized Counsel of Enterprise & Authorized Affairs on the cable channel earlier than being promoted to VP, Normal Supervisor in 2015. She continued to climb the ladder at Aspire even after it was acquired by UP Leisure in 2019 and Johnson divested possession. At present, Ingram is among the prime executives on the media firm.
Because the Senior Vice President of Multicultural Networks and Technique at UP Leisure, Ingram is answerable for driving the expansion and success of AspireTV, Cine Romántico, and different multicultural manufacturers from UP Leisure throughout all distribution platforms. Her focus is on driving multicultural viewers progress in addition to championing office variety. Though this isn’t how she initially pictured her profession, she says it was all a part of God’s imaginative and prescient.
“I’m a really non secular particular person so I consider God’s plans for us, once we kind of undergo His will, is at all times larger than what you possibly can think about.”
Ingram says her present position offers her the chance to faucet into her inventive facet whereas shaping the corporate’s model.
“It makes me glad on a day-to-day to have the ability to say I’ve a hand in the way in which through which AspireTV seems to be, in the way in which through which we join, the way in which through which we take into consideration our model promise, and the way we attain the Black viewers,” Ingram tells BE. “The good factor is I’m capable of be genuine in my management and convey all of my experiences as a Black girl, and as an HBCU graduate, and as a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, and as a member of The Links.” She added, “it’s a really highly effective factor when you possibly can present up as your self.”
Her place permits her to do greater than oversee the day-to-day operations, model, programming, advertising, and long-term technique of the nationwide cable tv community. She sees it as a possibility to serve and empower the community’s core viewers, girls of colour, by creating content material that enables Black and brown girls to see themselves celebrating, sharing, and reflecting the fantastic thing about their tradition and life-style.
Creating Content material With Objective
In line with a study carried out by UP Leisure, over 12 million Black adults over the age of 18 watch life-style content material on a month-to-month foundation. Nevertheless, they don’t really feel represented on mainstream networks like HGTV and The Meals Community.
“They’re tuning in, however but they don’t see themselves there,” says Ingram, who resides in Atlanta along with her husband and kids. “And what we discovered is that whereas Black individuals are watching this content material, they could prefer it, however they’d love it if they really noticed their life being mirrored in it [and] they noticed their tradition being infused.”
To fill this void, Aspire launched Butter + Brown, a comical culinary sequence govt produced by Chef G. Garvin and Issa Rae, and Unboxed with Nikki Chu, an authentic sequence the place the superstar inside designer makes over areas for the likes of singer Tank and his spouse Zena Foster, Tisha Campbell, Nicole and Boris Kodjoe, and Rodney and Holly Robinson Peete.
Earlier this yr, Aspire additionally partnered with Comcast Xfinity to broaden in 12 further markets. The community additionally launched a brand new season of the HBCU Gameday sequence Fastbreak and Just Angela, an authentic sequence that provides viewers a behind-the-scenes look into the lifetime of entrepreneur, philanthropist, and actuality star Angela Simmons. Beneath her management, Ingram says Aspire will proceed to discover extra life-style content material round Black journey, trend, and culinary arts to fulfill the wants of viewers who need extra Black lifestyle-focused programming.
“I strongly consider there aren’t sufficient platforms devoted to Black content material. The extra the merrier,” says the media exec. “When you concentrate on like your HGTV, that’s the place we’re going. That’s what we’re going after. We’re attempting to verify our viewers sees themselves in that kind of conventional life-style content material.”