Entertainment One Senior VP Gina Miller On Advocating For Progress, Diversity, Equality & Inclusion
With Black Lives Matter protests being staged across the nation in response to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, David McAtee and many other Black people at the hands of police, GRAMMY.com checked in with Nashville Chapter Advisor and Entertainment One Senior Vice President and General Manager Gina Miller to get her perspective on the current situation, what change looks like and how the music industry at large can contribute.
In one word, how would you describe the current state of the world?
HOPEFUL. There seems to be a real presence of seemingly more people than I've seen in my lifetime outraged, speaking out and taking action against racism and inequality.
Thinking of the one word you chose, would you use that same word to describe the current state of the music industry? Why or why not?
Yes, I could. The music industry is not exempt from systemic racism and it too feels like we are living in a time where more and more people are speaking out, and more organizations are coming together to challenge and evoke the change that is needed and overdue.
As an executive who is Black and a woman, how would you describe your professional journey?
In the spirit of the previous one word answers, I'd describe my professional journey as "steadfast." It I added another word, it would be "consistent." I am very grateful that my journey started me at an entry level, coordinator position and I was able to move up and throughout our company in almost every position possible. That is why I started with steadfast. I have been steadfast, relentless and worked very hard to be consistent, effective and a great steward of our artists and company assets.
How can the music community at large contribute to creating change?
The music community must be willing to honestly identify the areas that change need to take place. That is step one.
Disrupting what's been is necessary and that is being done now in a myriad of ways. Some people are protesting, some people are calling out organizations and companies who have no minorities represented. Some have chosen to be an advocate. There are so many areas that need to be addressed, changed and fixed. There is plenty of room for individuals and companies to assess what’s important to them and jump in. So by that, you define the work that is important to you.
The music industry also has to give examples and explanations regarding what anti-racism is, or prejudices and inequality look like. Then you have to be willing to defend, explain and educate people on why you’ve chosen the work you've chosen and how or where the definition came from. Defending is a mission statement. Defending [what] is your why? Why is this work important? Why now?
After you disrupt, define, and defend, then you must be willing to display what you believe and have chosen as your work. People believe what they see. You've can't say you want to see change and never display and show that you are working toward real change. How will you be an advocate? How will you change policies or procedures going forward? Where will you put your money and support?
What are you personally doing to activate and advocate change?
I donate my talent, money and time to many organizations. I am a protest supporter, and for me that's also making sure that artist[s] who have songs of protest are heard. I am excited about the new work with Nashville Music Equality. In a short time, I see the importance of our presence and know our work is already making a difference. My hope is that whatever my capacity [is], it amplifies the work that needs to be done.
With every organization that I am a part of, I am working to offer ideas, action and real solutions against racism, for progress, diversity, equality and inclusion. It is an honor to serve and lead in change. I appreciate getting to use my voice, wisdom and experiences in the places and spaces that I am connected. It starts with real conversations, discussing real issues with real info, in real time, working through real ideas, looking at real examples and experiences, considering the real truths, demonstrating that it will require real work, real empathy, real compassion, real healing, real connection, real action and after that, the expectation can be real change. I feel it is my responsibility—for my own freedoms, for my own life, for my own community and for anybody’s future. I must do my part.
Weeks have passed since the protests erupted across the country, but the work must continue. In your opinion what should non-Black people be doing to support the Black community?
Non-Black people should start with education. There are many resources from books and YouTube videos. Social media provides many experiences that have been captured. I just don't think people are quick to want to change what they don’t understand. And often what they see they don't identify with or view it as so exceptional that there's no urgency to do anything.
I would suggest non-Black people have some implicit bias training. Black people [are] being killed... It’s hard to imagine that or connect to that if it’s not happening in your neighborhood, [to your] family or sphere of influence…
Through implicit bias training is the opportunity to hear how you might possibly be part of the problem and never knew or identified your behaviors as non-racist. Look inside and look around. What does diversity look like through your lens and community? A dear friend of mine said to me, "Gina, I’ve never considered myself a racist, but I've also never been part of any solution." I took that as: I never have thought of myself as a racist, but I haven’t done anything not to be. That’s the perspective non-Black people have to be willing to consider. From there, then they can determine what next, and what should/could I do to be part of any solution, beyond that.
The COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly rocked and continues to rock the music industry as a whole. What has this moment taught you about our industry?
We already knew that we were creative… We are seeing creativity soar, as the creatives' voice rises…
Seeing our creativity and innovation on display during this time is simply refreshing. It’s also refreshing to see so many in the music industry come together, to connect, support, sustain, help heal and offer whatever they have proving that we are a real community. Much like many of our families. We might not speak daily, but when we need each other, we show up. It’s such an amazing thing to see so many show up.
What has this moment taught you personally?
I feel like I have always had an appreciation for life, but as I sit here today, I am profoundly grateful for life and the lives of those who mean anything to me.
Moments like this can inspire creativity and/or innovation—as an executive, have you witnessed this within your company via your team and the artists on your roster?
I am so proud of our team and our artists… as well as their managers and consultants who are all working diligently to keep all of our businesses going and thriving. With market visits and live touring being such a huge part of our business and now at a stand-still, everyone is finding unique ways to connect meaningfully with their audiences. What could have been obstacles, we are finding ways to convert those moments to opportunity!