Do one thing every day that scares you.
That's what REVOLT TV's Director of Program Scheduling and Promo Strategy Jaunice Sills said when asked what advice she’d give other Black, Fresh & 20-Somethings. At 28 years old, Sills has learned that when she steps out of her comfort zone, life offers her a new beginning that she had yet to imagine, like leading and strategizing for Sean "Diddy" Combs' brand new live music television network.
Launched in October 2013 in partnership with Comcast and defined by its slogan, "The revolution will be televised," the L.A.-based network incorporates social media to offer millenials a unique viewing experience. EBONY.com caught up with REVOLT's young director to see what's in store for the network and her fast-rising career.
EBONY: Can you tell us what the position entails at REVOLT TV?
JAUNICE SILLS: My position is a diverse role in operations, scheduling and promotion strategy. I assist in shaping the overall programming direction of the channel. Whether it’s the series premiere of REVOLT LIVE, a music documentary, or a special featuring an artist, my team strategically schedules all content on the network. I work with various departments company-wide with tasks that range from marketing programs on-air, managing a live news schedule, and integrating the linear programs with multi-platform initiatives.
The best part of my job is hearing positive sentiment about our viewers’ experience watching REVOLT. As the new #1 name in music, we are giving them more than just a television experience – it’s an authoritative, celebratory, unpredictable journey, and they never know what they are going to see next.
EBONY: REVOLT is actually very unique in that Diddy brought on a lot of young up-and-coming DJs, hosts, and directors.
JS: That’s one of the things I really love about the structure of the network. We’re millennial-targeted, which is the audience we really want, but Mr. Combs really wanted young people to not only be in front of the camera but also, behind the scenes. There are a lot of us that are young and have various and diverse career experiences in TV. To be able to work under the leadership of a few seasoned executives, but be led by a lot of millennials in many departments is really dope. It’s just a clean slate—there are no rules. We’re a non-traditional television network.
EBONY: What were some of the key career and personal decisions that led to you landing this position with REVOLT?
JS: I got to this point in my journey because of three important areas: early career development, networking and mentorship. I knew by investing in myself and obtaining internships, I would have a competitive advantage when it came for opportunities after graduation. In college, I interned at leading media organizations such as CBS, HBO, Tyler Perry Studios and MTV that enhanced my resume, gave me hard skills and supplied me with professional contacts at all levels. Prior to working at REVOLT, I worked in Programming Strategy for four years at BET Networks, and that experience prepared me very well for my current position.
So many of those contacts would become mentors, confidantes and sponsors for future opportunities. When the opportunity to work at REVOLT surfaced through a mentor, I made the decision to work under the leadership of my boss and other key executives who are legends in the entertainment industry. It was an opportunity of a lifetime, and most importantly, I wanted to be a part of television history and launch a network in the social media age!
EBONY: What do you want people to know about REVOLT and it’s significance?
JS: I don’t think a lot of people are aware that we’re aren’t just a music network. We’re a live music network. We call ourselves the live ESPN or CNN of the music industry. Whenever you tune into REVOLT, you’re going to see the latest in music news, business news and that’s one thing that is really different from a lot of other networks like an MTV or even FUSE. You’re always getting up-to-the-minute information about the music of all genres and of all generations.
We’re doing really cool things that you’ve just never seen on television before, like delivering news in the form of these pop-up tickers. Most networks will have a crawl at the bottom, but we actually pop-up our news over a music video and then it goes away. Another thing that’s different then a lot of the networks that I manage is these user generated pop-up videos that users submit, talking about how much they love the music or a particular artist, and we pop them up into the video. There’s this one video of this young guy who is in love with Miley Cyrus and his video will pop up during one of her videos. It’s just this really fun, interactive, one-of-a-kind experience for our viewers to see themselves in one of their favorite artists' videos.
EBONY: I like that you really engage with your audience and that you’re bringing on people who really have a high interest in music.
JS: I’m very passionate about television. It’s my forte. But for the people I work with, music is their everything. Just the information that they know and how it just spans is amazing. Even DJ Damage knows about all types of music and you would think that he just knows about–and this is just me being me–“East Coast music”. He can talk about anything and that just shows the talent he possesses. He can just go in and interview anyone about anything and he can bring in his work references and he just knows the lyrics to everything. It’s just so impressive to see him.
EBONY: One thing I love about your story is that you kept the connections you made in your interning days. I think a lot of times people forget how important relationships are when it comes to your career.
JS: I’ve always been someone who has a lot of mentors and I think sometimes it’s hard to juggle keeping up with people. I learned that when you invest in yourself and you meet a lot of people, it really does give you a competitive advantage. At the same time, it exposes you to people who are on all different levels of management who might take an interest in you, and when they do, it’s really important that you reciprocate that. I don’t think a lot of young people in their 20s really understand that. Sometimes when you just meet someone and get someone’s business card, it’s important to just reach out to them.
EBONY: What would you say is the biggest professional mistake you’ve made thus far, and how did you go about fixing it?
JS: In my early career, the biggest professional mistake I made was in a meeting when I corrected a very senior level executive in front of a large group of people. I was invited to only attend the meeting and observe, but I ended up offering a recommendation that everyone liked. About 15 minutes later, feeling confident that I added value earlier, I corrected the most senior executive in the room. As soon as it happened, I knew I was wrong. I can laugh about it now, but this senior person actually pulled me aside and gave me advice I will never forget: “You being in this room shows that you belong here and you don’t have to shine over others to stand out.” It was a reminder that my career is a marathon, not a sprint.
EBONY: What do you hope to bring to REVOLT?
JS: You know what’s interesting, being that we’re like a start-up, I’d like to just keep growing the brand, getting our name out there, and keeping up with the buzz. So many people are buzzing about us, but we’re not available in a lot of homes.
One thing I’d like to do is make sure that when people are tuning in, they’re getting a one-of-a-kind experience. Finding that kind of programming is really important to me. As a scheduler, you’re not thinking short-term. You’re always thinking long-term, so I’m already thinking about 2015 and 2016. So that’s what’s most exciting about the job and that’s what’s next for me. I just want us to have so much programming that we don’t know what to do with it.
EBONY: Your position is so special because you have the opportunity to create content that either relates to a market or doesn’t. It’s either going to touch them and hit them or it’s not. Having that power is really special, you know? Especially for a woman of color.
JS: I absolutely agree. I’ll go to different colleges and speak on different panels, and I don’t think anyone is really aware that there is a programming department. I think people just think that TV miraculously just gets on air without any strategy behind it and there really is. It’s all a real technique and a special skill-set and it’s all learned, which is great because 10 years ago, I never thought I would be in programming. I thought I would be on-air.
EBONY: What is one piece of advice that you’ll carry with you forever? Who gave it to you?
JS: I once heard a college professor say a quote about second chances, and it’s always stuck with me. “Not everyone can go back and make a brand new start, but anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” It’s a constant reminder for me that there is always tomorrow as an opportunity to try again and re-invent myself.