During the early stages of her career, Deshuna Spencer was concerned about the limited black content on major television and streaming apps. She later observed it was quite challenging for independent minority black content creators to find space for their work on big platforms. She also noticed that the type of content that made it to large streaming platforms were popular black series or sitcoms and films.
The stories she watched on television were abstract and didn’t represent her identity. In her opinion, the content displayed in TV programs portrayed women of color as combative and quarrelsome, which was far from the truth. To address this, she established her own streaming service, kweliTV, which offered black creatives the platform to promote their work.
In the context of systemic racism, black content racism has been experienced by filmmakers and producers since Sidney Poitier had the opportunity to win the Oscars in 1964. Today, only six percent of writers, directors, and producers in the U.S. are black.
This is attributed to the perception that more white audiences do not patronize all-black content; as a result, some top executives believe it may not be profitable to sponsor such productions, according to Arizona State University.
Due to these barriers, it was quite daunting to establish Deshuna’s dream streaming platform. However, despite having no knowledge of television and streaming services, she walked into the space with the intent of revolutionizing the production of black content.
Though she received expert advice to pursue a different dream due to forecasted investor boycotts, she refused to be perturbed by these conclusions and pushed on to engage black filmmakers and content creators on how they could work together to promote their themes; this soon evolved into KweliTV, according to Shondaland.
A Harvard Business Review report indicates that a significant fraction of black women venture into entrepreneurship compared to white women. However, only 3 percent are capable of keeping their businesses afloat. This is mainly because raising capital to either start or sustain a business is difficult for many women of color, as reported by Forbes.
Similar challenges confronted Deshuna, she struggled to convince investors to buy into her vision. Though she pledged to give content creators 60 percent of the revenue generated from the business, it was still difficult to get them on board.
Despite being told her business wasn’t viable for investment, she persevered and formally launched KweliTV in 2016; four years after convincing investors to support her vision. The business has since grown with over 43,000 subscribers.