Keesha Boyd: Taking the Lead on Black Programming and Representation
Executive Director Keesha Boyd has played a leading role in the company's focus on multicultural content across all Xfinity platforms, focused on African American, Latinx, Asian American and international audiences. We caught up with Keesha on her latest projects and vision for the future of multicultural content, focusing on Xfinity's newly launched Black Experience Channel.
Q. You started your career as an organizational psychologist. Do you think that has shaped the way you lead and work?
A: It absolutely has. I'm very interested in everyone's individual story and what motivates them. It’s helped me to be able to build relationships across any company that I've been part of. I think it also helps me understand my employees better in terms of what they need, and what I need to do to get the best out of them.
Q. What other challenges have you helped people with as a coach?
A: There have been times when I've coached employees about being in situations where someone has a difference of opinion. What I'll coach them on is to focus your energy, instead of what your answer or comeback is going to be, on understanding the other person's point of view. Once you do that, you may find that you do have some common ground, and it might be beneficial to rally around that particular point. Or, if that’s not possible, it will give you more information to help you better present your idea. And this, in turn, will help them understand more clearly why you're giving an opposing point of view.
Q. As the Executive Director, Multicultural Video & Entertainment at Xfinity, can you tell us about how representation and diversity on television has changed from when you were a kid to today? What's your journey been like?
A: It's been a fascinating journey for me. When I was a young girl, I lived in a very diverse neighborhood in New York and attended an all-Black, Catholic school. My father was in the military, so we suddenly moved down South during my childhood. It was a total culture shock. I went from being at a school with young, Black girls who were all Catholic, to being in the South and being the only Catholic and the only Black girl in a private school.
That was the first time I started to feel “othered” so to speak. Don’t get me wrong, I had lots of friends, and I enjoyed myself very much during this time. But I did feel different, and that's when I think I started to seek out representation on television, or at least take notice of it. My parents were great about reinforcing to me that I could do anything, and that it doesn't matter if you feel different. I am so appreciative of them for teaching me to lean into this notion. That no matter how “othered” you might feel, you're just as capable and you can do whatever you set your mind to. That stuck with me.
Because of this experience, I’m so proud now to be doing work around cultural content and meaning. Content that centers on cultural identity. It’s personally important to me, to see it on screen, because I know how it affected me. There's so much that media, entertainment, movies and television can do to inspire and motivate the next generation. That’s why representation is so critical in making sure that people feel heard and supported. This is such a personal part of my own story that I'm glad I'm in a position now to, in some small way, help someone else see that.
Q. Tell us about the Black Experience Channel on What were the challenges, and what are you hoping to accomplish with the content?
A: We as a company have always leaned in on celebrating diversity and finding ways to promote cultural content. But, I think we had gotten to a point where we were feeling like we wanted to do more. The point of the Black Experience on Xfinity, which is a first-of-its kind destination of Black entertainment, movies, TV shows, news, and more, is to create a space that celebrates the voices of an underrepresented community and at the same time introduces this diversity to new audiences. We're looking to lean in on content that helps tell stories about the Black community and shows that the community is not monolithic.
What I'm most excited about is that the launch of Black Experience on Xfinity is a major investment in the Black creative community and one of the many ways we are leveraging the scale and reach of our platforms to amplify voices that need to be heard. In the six months leading up to this launch, we have been expanding our offering of Black programming to millions of additional Xfinity customers. The Black Experience Channel on Xfinity will allow us to further highlight our fantastic content partners, while also premiering original programming from emerging Black content creators and Black-owned production companies.