The Charger Blog

Media Fellowship Opportunity Examines Belonging and Diversity

The University’s Department of Communication, Film, and Media Studies hosted a recent event that brought together industry leaders and students for important conversations about careers in media and equity.

March 12, 2024

By Anchal Bhatia ’24 MBA

Prof. Wayne Edwards (at podium) and panelists at the event.
Prof. Wayne Edwards (at podium) and panelists at the event.

Prof. Wayne Edwards, a practitioner in residence in the University’s Department of Communication, Film, and Media Studies, along with Sadara Funches '24, a communication major, conceived and organized the Equity in Media Fellowship, a two-day networking event that he envisioned would offer exciting opportunities for students.

“Networking is an essential aspect in any career, and this is why I chose to conduct an Equity in Media Fellowship,” he said. “I wanted to provide an opportunity for all students, especially to the students of color, to meet, network, and learn from media professionals.”

‘Equity is...’

The fellowship featured professionals with diverse industry backgrounds in film, distribution, law, media, sales, and broadcast journalism. Day one of the fellowship began with a panel discussion featuring professionals such as Antonio McDonald, CEO of KUAMP Inc.; Daniel Mogg, director at Mogg Media; Niyi Coker, director of the School of Theatre at San Diego State University; Donavan Rodriques, business and entertainment attorney; Dave Stevens, motivational speaker and philanthropist; and Tony Franklin, vice president of advertising sales at DIRECTV. Following the panel discussion were film screenings and breakout sessions.

Prof. Wayne Edwards (right) leads a conversation as part of the fellowship event.
Prof. Wayne Edwards (right) leads a conversation as part of the fellowship event.

The panel discussion was a wide-ranging conversation focusing on providing equity to individuals of color. The discussion also touched on conversations about the Black culture and how treating everyone equally is essential.

During one such conversation, Stevens mentioned that equity is not showing pity but sharing the right opportunity despite the differences in color or background. He also explained how disabilities and variances do not lessen an individual’s capability, and he endorsed the importance of trusting the true skills and believing in the power of one’s knowledge.

“In most of my jobs, I’ve been the only Black individual, and I have not seen a lot of people of color,” said Franklin. “Equity is not just people of color or women trying to tell a story or showing injustice. We need everyone to share that story and talk about these things. Because at the end of the day, if only one group talks about it, it’s not enough. Equity is every human being saying that it’s injustice.”

‘Opened up more opportunities’

The discussion then transitioned to other elements, such as maintaining relationships as an employee, following one’s passion, and evolving professionally. To support this segment, Mogg shared his thoughts.

The event was an exciting opportunity for industry professionals to share their experiences with students.
The event was an exciting opportunity for industry professionals to share their experiences with students.

“Challenges make you human,” he said. “If you’re facing challenges at a workspace, your passion will lead you to ways where you will be fueled to face those challenges passionately.”

“Doing what you love is essential,” added Rodriques. “If you cannot figure out what you love, some counselors can help you do so. The important goal is to focus on what makes you happy and what you’re good at, even if it means you need to make a switch in your job or your career!”

The discussion also examined content, technology, and the build-up of artificial intelligence. This discussion looked at the pros and cons of new technology and concluded that there is more to come in the content, branding, and media industry in the following years.

“Technology has grown for sure, and it is amazing to see everything readily available in just one touch,” said Stevens. "As professionals in media, having everything all in one place is great to see. But it has also opened up more opportunities that everyone has.”

“It is exciting to see how the content industry is growing each day,” added Mogg. “There are many opportunities in this new era – folks coming out of college to step into the content industry is impressive as there is more awareness with this industry right from school days.”

‘Be proud of who you are’

The panel discussion concluded with a Q&A session in which students and attendees discussed topics such as overcoming the “feeling of being different in color and community,” as well as important qualities and skills to have in the realm of media, and how to feel confident about self-image and self-branding.

The panelists discussed these questions with the utmost confidence and positivity. The discussion ended on an uplifting note. Be proud of who you are, where you are coming from, and what you have to offer. The right opportunities will never let you go. Never stop sharing your skills and how your differences can benefit you.

As part of the second phase of the fellowship, day two was packed with in-conversations (talk-show style interviews) and breakout sessions. The in-conversations with Antonio McDonald and Niyi Coker showcased a more in-depth vision of the importance of equity in media, while the breakout sessions offered student activities and networking sessions.

Students say they found it interesting to speak about their thoughts with similar and like-minded individuals who were once in their shoes and understood where they were coming from.

Anchal Bhatia ’24 MBA is a candidate in the University’s MBA program.