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The Sisterhood of Black Excellence: Faces of Success in Hollywood, Women to Know

Hollywood Executives Group© (Photo Credit iOne Digital)

By: Julia Peterson

Los Angeles, CA, (The Hollywood Times) 03/31/2024 – To be a woman is to know that you are just as strong and powerful alone or within your community. During Women’s History Month, HelloBeautiful and MadameNoire celebrated the accomplishments of five black trailblazing Hollywood women executives who are changing cinema in their annual Women to Know campaign, as well as hosted their first Woman to Know dinner and celebrations. The iOne Digital executive leadership of the most talented black women formed a fantastic campaign and event highlighting and supporting everybody receiving their flowers for their accomplishments.

Women To Know

The sensational Woman to Know campaign included group cover, editorial, and roundtable video of the most influential women who are changing the landscape of old Hollywood and forging new venues for all future storytellers but most especially black creatives. These women have forged incredible influence in many ways that have benefited the greater arts, from pushing for projects to supporting talent. These women behind the scenes are the faces of success and deserve all the praise and celebration. Who are these incredible women? They are as follows: (Head of Orion Pictures) Alana Mayo, (President of Disney’s Onyx Collective) Tara Duncan, (President of TriStar Pictures) Nicole Brown, (Senior Film Executive, Development, Production, & Acquisition, Amazon MGM Studios) Amber Rasberry, and (Netflix’s Vice President of Film) Niija Kuykendall.

Hollywood Executives Group© (Photo Credit iOne Digital)

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The roundtable captured in fully these women’s passion, focus, and, most notably, their love and support for each other in their competing industry. In a world where the word diversity in itself appears to be controversial to the weak-minded, these women continue to prove why it is so essential for companies to continue to strive for diversity in all aspects of production.

Alana Mayo (Head of Orion Pictures)© (Photo credit: iOne Digital)

Let’s get it straight, these incredible works being done globally in entertainment and business are being done by people of color. That is just a fact, and it’s a fact that no amount of canceling or changing laws affecting diversity, equity, and inclusion will ever be able to change. They are not successful Hollywood executives because they are black women but because people see color before their accomplishments, degrees, or talents. Let us change the narrative and say they are successful because they happen to be black women.

Amber Rasberry, Senior Film Executive, Amazon MGM Studios (Photo Credit IOne Digital)

iOne Digital (Senior Vice President of Content) Allison McGevna-Cirino, (Director of Sponsor and Affiliate Content) Cliché Wynter-Mayo, and (Editorial Director of Style & Beauty for HelloBeautiful) Shamika Sanders deserve a round of applause for this magnificent campaign along with their incredible all-women team, who also happened to be devoted mothers. The Hollywood Times was blessed to sit down with these pioneering women about the unfolding of the beautiful homage to the faces of success in Hollywood being powerhouse black women.

Niija Kuykendall. (Netflix’s Vice President of Film)©  (Photo Credits iOne Digital)

Hollywood Executive Roundtable Video/ Video credits: iOne Digital

The following is an exclusive interview With Sanders, McGevna-Cirino, and Wynter-Mayo for the THT.

How were this year’s new Women to Know groups chosen for this campaign?

Allison McGevna-Cirino© (Photo credit iOne Digital)

Allison McGevna-Cirino: Women to Know has been a franchise that we’ve had for some years, and then last year, Cliché and II were speaking, and she had just a great idea for the pitch and took it over and did a great job with last year’s which focused on women in tech. This year, she and I were talking in the fall. And she was saying to me, you know, I’m watching what’s happening in Hollywood. And it seems like all these DEI jobs, all these jobs for black women, are being eliminated, or people are stepping down. And there’s just this crazy tide happening in the industry.

She came up with this brilliant idea to let’s talk about these. We couldn’t believe how many black women were actually in these roles, even though it’s still small compared to a white male-dominated industry. We were there, and it was really exciting, and she started building the connections. Then we started talking with Shamika, we started talking about what that could look like. It was just something that we were all so excited about, and just, you know, really props to Cliché for bringing us together and Shamika for just her vision with the covers and the fantastic work we do with the covers and the hubs. It just really came together in a moment of magic.

Have any of these ladies in the group collaborated with iOne Digital before?

Cliché Wynter-Mayo© (Photo credit iOne

Cliché Wynter-Mayo: None of these women collaborated with us before, but Alana Mayo is my sister-in-law. So, it kind of was just a natural organic partnership; in speaking with her, I really was able to connect with the other women, was able to get their contacts, and it just came together.

What is the main takeaway you want your audience to get from this campaign from the videos, the pictures, and the editorial?

Shamika Sanders© (Photo credit iOne Digital)

Shamika Sanders:  HelloBeautiful reader is empowering, and she loves seeing women doing their thing. I think that in recent times, Hollywood is in like a sketchy place, especially with a lot of the shows that we love being canceled and things we don’t get to see behind the lens that there are a lot of black women fighting on the front lines for these stories. I think that was missing in the conversation, especially with the Hollywood strike and just things going on, that there are black women in these positions of power fighting for these stories.

So, while some are being canceled, they are actively working to present new stories. And honestly, all of us on this call, we’re storytellers. We love the fact that these black women are telling black stories on such a large scale. I think that we just wanted to highlight them and spotlight them. We wanted to know more; I was intrigued. This is called Women to Know, and I wanted to know more about these women.  I think presenting it to our audience, they will also want to know more, and you know, connect movies and films to name so like Niija Kuykendall, she was behind, you know, Judas and the black Messiah. These are films that don’t just get made, right? All these stories, you know, Black Panthers, and, and these monumental movements are so imperative to our black culture and black hood. I wanted to present that to our audience, and I think that we’ve done a great job just uplifting these women. We wanted to give them a moment to shine in front of the camera because they work fiercely behind the scenes.

As successful black women in each of your fields, what does it mean for you to see the group and, you know, hear their stories? How does that impact you?

Shamika Sanders: I just super resonated with all of the women because how many of us are, you know, career driven, and still maintaining and balancing personal life and self-care and family. So, I think I just super resonated with her and her message, the work she’s put out there. And I can definitely relate.

Cliché Wynter-Mayo: Again, being on set and I think even when the cameras weren’t rolling, I think those were the moments where I felt the most inspired, speaking to them speaking about their families and their children, as a mom of two myself, you know, just discussing the fact that we serve so many masters as black women in particular, and how do we do that? How do we still find joy and time for ourselves? And so, it’s just inspirational to watch them balance it all in the midst of a crazy production. And so, for me, it gave me hope that, you know what, like, I can keep going. This is possible. It’s hard, but it’s possible.

Allison McGevna-Cirino: I truly feel that like, part of my life’s mission and calling is to elevate, celebrate, and amplify all black women, but especially black mothers who really do care so much and push so much forward. My entire leadership team comprises black mothers, which is a big deal. And so, I love seeing these women prioritize themselves and their work and their families and balance it all. It is totally inspiring.

All the Praise

There are so many amazing black women working all around the industry, from entertainment, law, healthcare, and business, who are responsible every day for the amazing things we see and enjoy. They deserve all the praise for their incredible work that has not gone unnoticed, with particular consideration to all the hard-working mothers who balance a thriving career and family. To women everywhere, keep shining every day. You run the world, as the country artist Beyoncé once said.