‘Woman In Sports’ that highlights the amazing work that women are doing in this is male dominated field. I had the amazing pleasure of meeting Melani Carter during Watch Blossom’s first sports meetup for women of color. Melani is the VP of Content Strategy at Blossom and from our chat she’s up to big things!
Where did you grow up and how were you introduced to sports?
I was born and raised in Atlanta, Ga. I’m a true Atlien! I was first introduced to sports at a young age by my father and both sides of my family really. Everybody was so athletic and loved watching sports.
What college/university did you attend and did it have an impact on your fan experience?
I attended Kennesaw State University and the impact that it had on my fan experience was that I was close enough to drive to our professional arenas in Atlanta. At the time, we didn’t have a football team at KSU but I did support our men’s and women’s basketball team, however; It was nothing to go see a my favorite team (Lebron) lol play at Phillips Arena, see the Falcons play and the Braves when they were at Turner Field.
What made you want to have a career in sports?
Cheryl Miller is one of the main reasons. She was one of the first women I saw reporting in sports. I remember seeing her on TNT as a sideline reporter at a young age and was like I want to do that. Not only was she good at reporting but she was also an amazing basketball player. I thought it was so cool to see a woman talking about sports and loved them just as much as i did. I am also a huge fan of NBA basketball!
You mentioned you worked for Turner. How was your experience as a young black woman?
Yes, I worked as an NBA broadcast operator for NBA League Pass and did production work for NBATV. My experience was great until I wanted to take on new roles and positions within the company. It was tough making it to last round interviews and losing positions to men and being on panel interviews with all men having to prove myself. The mindset of individuals in higher positions must change and start to understand us as women and specifically black women because it’s not enough of us in positions of power in a lot of industries. Truly, it was all a blessing and a lesson. The many no’s and doors slammed taught me my true potential and what i’m really passionate about which is authentic storytelling.
How can the sports world close the gap with the working with black women and other women of color?
Creating and being the solution is the only way we change the culture and environment of having a creatively equal space in sports production and as overall athletes. The structure of organized sports and production today – from athletes, to talent to behind the scenes – is a system that says women of color can’t create, as well, or be as innovative, or be the best athlete as men. The proof is there and it’s sad that we still deal with issues of equality in 2017. I think we’ve gotten so used to hearing “oh this is just how it is” vs us going into these spaces and asking “why” and changing it. That’s why it’s critical that we create a sports culture that is not only diverse but INCLUSIVE as well.
Who do you look up to?
First and foremost my lovely parents! I admire them so much because of their never ending sacrifice to making sure all needs and wants were met while growing up. They are so supportive of my goals. Outside of my family, I look up to Maverick Carter. Maverick is the CEO of Springhill ent and co-founder of Uninterrupted. I admire him because he’s just as passionate about what i’m passionate about. He understands that telling authentic stories around athletes and creating feel-good sports content is key. We all know mainstream media is a beast and can create crazy storylines and scenarios around athletes as if they aren’t humans just like us. Having someone who understands this and continues to help shift the narrative with positive content, is definitely what is needed in today’s sports industry. Oh, and he is also best friends with my favorite player ever, jealous much!
How did you get involved with Blossom? What’s your role/what do you do? What makes Blossom unique?
The Founder and CEO of Blossom, Diamonde and I met a couple of years ago. We were both working in production at the time. She was at OWN and I was at Turner. She had experience with pitching shows so I wanted her advice on how to pitch a specific sports show concept to a network, so we began to have monthly meetups that turned into staying in touch. Throughout the years we stayed in touch we always talked about how we would share our gifts with the world one day. One particular meeting she told me about an idea to create a network for women of color that validates us in front and behind the camera. I knew at that moment that I was going to do anything that I could to help her make this happen. The beauty about Blossom is that we are creating a hub for all women of color to feel wanted and validated through feel-good content. All content on our platform is intentional, authentic and curated/created specifically for women of color. At Blossom, I produce, I’m creative director, content strategist and also the creator of Girl Chat. GirlChat is sports show hosted by all women. You can watch it for yourself at watchblossom.com!
What has been your greatest professional accomplishment thus far?
Creating and producing Girl Chat. I’m so thankful for Blossom and the other two hosts Mikaela Thomas and Autumn Johnson for making it happen.After sitting on this idea for three years, we finally are letting people see women talk about sports without a man having to validate the woman’s opinion. We are more than just a face for a network, a host or a moderator. We talk sports too!
How do you see the sports world changing for women and for women of color? Do you think it will change?
The change starts with us being more intentional and creating the change. The change starts by being in positions of power. It doesn’t make sense for an industry to target a specific audience without proper representation across the board. So if companies want more women of color watching sports programming or becoming athletes. Start hiring more women of color ,start athletic programs with women of color running them, have more women in sports production.
What advice would you give young ladies that want to want to have a career in sports?
As cliche as this saying is, it is probably the only one i’ll preach over and over and that is to never give up. It’s going to be tough and you will get a lot of no’s but guess what you’ve heard the word no all your life! being a woman in this industry requires you to be ten times as knowledgeable but know that your time will come and you better be ready.