Diversity in the TV Industry – with Jaunice Sills McSwain, of E! Networks
Curious about what it’s really like to work in the film industry?
Film Connx CEO Carolyn Pitt interviews Jaunice Sills McSwain, Sr. Director, Content Strategy at E! Networks and Chairman of Black Women Film Network about her work in the film industry, how she got started, some lessons she’s learned in her career and the importance of diversity. Watch the video below.
About Jaunice Sills McSwain
When Jaunice Sills McSwain was in third grade, her book reports weren’t like the other kids’ in her class. She would stand up in the front of the class with a handmade TV set with a cut out screen. Young Jaunice would present these breaking news reports as her book reports.
Even at a young age, she had a love of storytelling and wanted to create a captive audience, the same ways she saw other journalists do on TV. This drive to be on air would serve her for years to come.
When Jaunice got to Spelman College in 2004, her desire to be on air was still strong. So she tried out to be a sports anchor and she joined a TV show in Atlanta called Take 2 Sports, which was canceled after 6 episodes. The disappointing experience sparked her interest in what goes on behind the scenes in the television industry, from a programming and production capacity.
In addition to Take 2 Sports, Jaunice had many internships in college, including with Tyler Perry Studios and HBO. By the time she graduated she had enough experience to really understand what she wanted to do; programming and production.
She started her career after college at MTV in New York as a summer associate. She continued to learn and grow, moving to BET, then Revolt TV, then to her current role at NBC Universal where she leads content planning and strategy for E! Networks
Jaunice’s advice to women who want to get into the industry:
“You don’t have to be defined by [a] particular trajectory.”
She encourages women to explore their careers and become multihyphenate. A diversity of experiences makes you more of a stellar candidate because you can do more than one thing. For example, if you are a producer, but you understand the post-production process and editing – that’s multihyphenate.
In her spare time, Jaunice is Chairwoman of the board for Black Women Film Network, which is a collective of women who are preserving the voice of Black women in film and television and preparing the next generation of content creators. They do that through programming, an annual Black Women Film Network summit, master classes, workshops, and panels. Their goal is to help Black women who enter this very difficult industry get the tools and resources they need to not only survive but also to thrive.
You can learn more about them at blackwomenfilm.org.