In honor of Black Heritage Month, NBCUniversal spotlights Janine Jones-Clark, SVP, Global Talent Development & Inclusion for the Universal Filmed Entertainment Group (UFEG), reporting to Universal Pictures Chairman Donna Langley. In this role, she and her team are dedicated to building on the studio’s legacy of attracting and developing an inclusive talent pool, and to supporting the creation of content that appeals to our increasingly diverse audiences.
As a member of the studio’s senior leadership team, Jones-Clark implements strategies for the inclusion and diversity efforts at Universal Pictures, Focus Features, DreamWorks Animation and Awesomeness TV, working closely with both creative production and human resources teams. Additionally, Jones-Clark is responsible for developing and overseeing creative diversity initiatives and partnerships including the Universal Writers Program, the Universal Directors Intensive, the Sundance Institute FilmTwo Initiative and the AFI Directing Workshop for Women. Workforce strategies include partnerships with NBCUniversal’s Employee Resource Groups, Executive Search team, Page and Campus 2 Career pipeline programs.
Q: Tell me about the Global Talent Development & Inclusion team that you lead for the Universal Filmed Entertainment Group.
I always love when I get a chance to talk about our team. It’s only been a year, but it feels like much longer – in a good way!
We’re all very passionate and come from creative backgrounds, so not only is there a real zeal around discovering new talent and perspectives, but we also know how to collaborate organically with the film group’s production executives and producers to build on Universal’s incredible legacy of inclusive and diverse storytelling. I really feel like we hit the ground running on day one. And I think it’s the ultimate compliment that I’ve heard from a number of other studios who are anxious to hear about how they can build something similar at their companies.
Q: Why is it important that Universal Pictures, Focus Features, DreamWorks Animation and Awesomeness TV have a commitment to telling stories and creating art with multi-cultural, global perspectives?
Simply put, it’s key to the industry’s growth. Diverse storytelling is in this studio’s DNA. The list of movies and diverse storytellers that Universal and Focus have championed over the years is tremendous … from Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain, F. Gary Gray’s Straight Outta Compton, Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken.
In 2017 alone, we have so many examples of great – and profitable – films by diverse storytellers. Jordan Peele’s Get Out was not only extremely entertaining, but it has become such a part of our culture that it inspired a course at UCLA on race and horror. And Trish Sie’s Pitch Perfect 3, which was also co-written by a woman, continues our commitment to providing opportunities for women in film. And, of course, we had another global success in 2017 with the Fast and Furious franchise and its multi-ethnic cast and production team.
Our Chairman Donna Langley leads us every day by example and it makes us all very proud to be part of such a forward-thinking, inclusive company that is determined to deliver films that resonate with and reflect our increasingly diverse audiences.
Q: What role does diversity in-front-of- and behind-the-camera play in your department’s branding tagline: Empowering unique voices, championing global stories and creating opportunities?
When we created our department ‘tagline,’ we got excited about the messaging because it not only accurately reflects what drives the Global Talent Development & Inclusion team, but what drives our production executives, producers and workforce as well. Whether you’re a filmmaker or a film group employee, empowering, championing and creating are the hallmark of what drives our culture and our success within the Universal Filmed Entertainment Group.
Q: You’ve been here a little over a year now and I think people would be interested to know what most impresses you about NBCUniversal’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
First of all, I have to say that what has stood out the most over this first year is how approachable everyone is, just from a day-to-day, walking in the hallways perspective, and at every level of the organization.
And I think that being part of a corporate culture that fosters kindness, respect, and curiosity dovetails perfectly with its commitment to diversity and inclusion. All across the company the sense of collaboration and pure love of great storytelling is pervasive. It really says a lot about the leadership here.
Q: Where did your career path take you before joining the NBCUniversal family?
I’ve had a wonderful run on the studio circuit, which includes time at Disney, Warner Bros., NBC (before it became NBCU), Fox and CBS. I started my career path in publicity and later transitioned into television programming and development. In fact, Craig Robinson and I know each other from our former lives at CBS – and it’s so great that we get to work together again because he’s such a force, and his passion and knowledge in this space has proven invaluable in the past year. I, honestly, couldn’t ask for a better ally.
Q: What advice would you give women and all underrepresented groups who are interested in a career in media and entertainment?
Focus, tenacity and a thick skin are key factors when breaking into the entertainment business, regardless of gender, ethnicity or any other defining characteristics. The people who survive and succeed are the ones that just keep on trying until their opportunity surfaces (cue Hamilton song, “My shot”). In all seriousness, there can be many “no’s” on the road to “yes” and a strong sense of self-worth will help you to constructively accept and incorporate feedback, while inspiring you to continue pushing forward in pursuit of your goals and dreams.
To learn more about the Global Talent Development & Inclusion team, visit http://www.universaltalentdevelopment.com/.