Open Your Eyes: MTV’s Elect This Virtual Reality Experience Lets Fans Step Inside the Art of Change

On Nov. 8, 2016, Viacom employees got the chance to open their eyes to the most important issues of this election season—through an incandescent virtual reality (VR) art show at Viacom Headquarters.

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One of the VR works presented on Nov. 8 2016 about gender equality. Photo courtesy of MTV Elect This and Gumshoe

MTV’s Elect This campaign promised its audience substance over scandal. It succeeded in highlighting issues that matter most to their millennial audience such as climate change, social justice, national security, immigration, and health care— in a stunning marriage of innovation and artistry.

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Seven Years of Giving: The History Behind Viacom’s Give Back & Get Down Celebration

In the fall of 2010, Viacom’s Office of Global Inclusion started a new tradition—a holiday party that would bring employees together to celebrate the season of giving, by giving back to those in need.

Give Back & Get Down (GBGD) is the brainchild of Nickelodeon Digital Publishing Executive Assistant Tara Shaw and BET News Production Manager Renee Jackson, leaders of the BEAT (our employee resource group focused on the African-American experience).

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The inaugural celebration supported two vital causes.

City Harvest, the only food rescue program in New York City, collects excess food from restaurants and grocery stores—fresh, nutritious food that would otherwise be thrown out. Volunteers deliver this food to homeless shelters, soup kitchens, day cares and senior centers throughout the five boroughs.

Pajama Program, a national nonprofit, helps underprivileged children have a good night’s sleep. Cozy pajamas and bedtime story books are brought to kids in foster care or temporary shelters

Employees brought donations of pajamas and food to the party. While OGI members collected these items, Grammy-winning artist Miguel performed.

Seven years later, GBGD is our annual giving celebration. It embraces the Viacommunity spirit of making a positive social impact in areas where we work and live, and gives employees at premier entertainment brands the chance to let loose and celebrate a year of hard work.

Viacom has collected approximately 60 tons of donations since 2010.

 

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This year, we’ve partnered with Safe Horizons and Sanctuary for Families to support families and individuals impacted by domestic violence. GBGD VII is rapidly approaching, and donation boxes in our New York offices are filling up with toiletries.
Check back for a recap of GBGD VII on Dec. 7.

OGI Assistant Sarah Lee contributed to this article.

BET Leads With 5 of 10 Viacom Execs Named to Cablefax’s Most Powerful Women in Cable List

Stuart Winchester by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

“You have women in these pages who have made it their mission to lift others up,” wrote Cablefax editor Amy Maclean in their November issue, which was dedicated to the most powerful women in cable. “Women who are pioneering technological innovation. Women who are shrewd negotiators. Women who are speaking up in boardrooms. Who knows… maybe one of the Most powerful Women in Cable will someday be elected to the most powerful office in the land.”

We are proud to note that 10 of those women – and three of the top 50 – work for Viacom. That half of these get-things-done executives come from BET, including CEO Debra Lee, is unsurprising, given that network’s reputation for recruiting women to direct some of its most important programs. Earlier this week, Essence wrote a salute to the outsized impact that black women show runners – including Being Mary Jane’s Erica Shelton Kodish – were having on the television landscape.

BET is hardly alone in celebrating women. CMT, whose senior vice president of operations, Suzanne Norman, made the list, recently launched its annual Next Women of Country to showcase the best new talent in a genre that remains male-dominated. Viacom hosts a resource group open to all employees that is committed to championing women’s interests, and the company regularly partners with organizations such as Safe Horizon and Joyful Heart Foundation that assist women in need and promote women’s rights.

Underscoring the diversity that powers Viacom, many of these women also appeared on Cablefax’s recent list of top minority executives: Lee, BET CMO and marketing executive vice president Vicky Free, and BET programming executive vice president Zola Mashariki. Two other BET executives – Maureen Guthman and Connie Orlando – made the adjacent “Influentials” list.

We congratulate these dedicated women and thank them for their tremendous contributions to Viacom’s ongoing success. Click through below to see why Cablefax chose each of these individuals as industry standouts.

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We All Laugh the Same: Viacom Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month With Latinx Comedy Panel

Growing up, sitcoms were my main hub of comedy. I would watch shows like Everybody Loves Raymond with my Korean-American parents, who were trying to entertain themselves while expanding their English skills.

When I started working as a Viacom intern in the spring of 2016, I was exposed to a different type of comedy – political satire in the form of a mock newsroom. I had the opportunity to watch a live taping of The Daily Show With Trevor Noah. This experience taught me how diverse comedy could be. Noah is mixed-race and born in South Africa, yet he’s hosting a satirical talk show on a major cable network about American politics.

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“That’s What American Music Is All About” – Obama, BET Host Celebrity-Fueled White House Celebration

Stuart Winchester by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

BET loves President Obama. It’s not hard to see why. For eight years, the president has worked deliberately to help those who had long been overlooked, overseeing the legalization of same-sex marriage, overall economic expansion, the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba, and more.

To emphasize the point, the net recently put together this list of seven things they most appreciate about the soon-to-be-former president’s work:

The president has taken time to speak directly to BET viewers, most memorably in the wake of the killing of Michael Brown and other unarmed black men by police across the country, when he sat down with BET News’ Jeff Johnson to discuss the importance of peaceful protest to the health and evolution of our nation. Click the image below to watch the full interview:

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As much as Obama has driven change in national policy and added gravity to essential conversations on race and justice, he has also committed considerable energy to emphasizing the importance that sports and the arts play in American culture. Never has his dedication to the musical arts been more apparent than with BET’s farewell flourish to the president, BET Presents Love & Happiness: An Obama Celebration, which will air on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 9 p.m. ET.

The event, which the network hosted at the White House in October, features performances by Usher, Common, Janelle Monae, Leslie Odom Jr., The Roots, De La Soul, Jill Scott, Yolanda Adams, Bell Biv DeVoe, Michelle Williams and Kiki Sheard. Samuel L. Jackson, Angela Bassett, Bradley Cooper and Jesse Williams attended, reminiscing about Obama’s legacy.

Obama, whose reputation for comedic timing is legendary, seized a moment to re-dub the event “Barack Obama’s Block Party”:

Obama’s Block Party from Viacom on Vimeo.

This is one of a series of musical evenings the Obamas have hosted over their eight years in the White House, which have featured performers as diverse as Bob Dylan and Jennifer Hudson, carrying on a tradition of performance that stretches back to the administration of John Adams in 1801. Obama underscored the importance of elevating the country’s rich musical heritage to such a prominent stage in the nation’s capital.

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Right Around the Bend: See What Our Brands Offer for the Final Days of Election Coverage

It’s time.

While you wait in line to cast your vote, check out what MTV, BET, and Comedy Central are doing to represent their diverse audiences with unique media coverage of one of the most memorable elections in U.S. History.
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An Empathetic Walk With Viacom’s Office of Global Inclusion

When the virtual reality headset first slid into place, covering my eyes and resting on the bridge of my nose, there was a moment of calm darkness. Then the screen glowed, coming to life, and there stood Grace Chikui, an elderly blind woman and long-time resident of the Little Tokyo district in downtown Los Angeles. In recognition of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) in October, Viacom’s Office of Global Inclusion (OGI) hosted a unique virtual reality (VR) experience aptly named Walking With Grace, which used 360° video and spatial audio to provide employees with unparalleled perspective into the life of someone differently-abled.

“Through select audio interviews, Grace recalls childhood memories growing up in the area, helping us discover her neighborhood. Each swivel of the head and body, left, right, backward and even up toward the sky, revealed more of her world.”

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Walking With Grace gave Viacom employees the chance to see the world through the eyes of somebody with a visual impairment.

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You Code Girl: A New Class of Teen Techies Graduate From Viacom’s Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program

For the second year in a row, Viacom hosted a Girls Who Code summer immersion program. Find out more about how Viacom got involved with the national nonprofit here.

In the era of Twitter wars and Snapchat shade, internet feuding has become the norm. Intellectual Beef is a prototype site created to change this by providing a controlled environment for people to share their thoughtful opinions on current events. It’s an unbiased forum where dissenting voices are welcome, as long as they are respectful. It’s made with the latest industry technology, and created by four teenage girls.

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The creators of Intellectual Beef present their site at the Girls Who Code Graduation. Photo courtesy of Amy Pinnard Photography.

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These Young Coders Are Going to Change the World—Starting With Viacom

Zahraa Lopez vividly remembers the excitement she felt when, as a child, she’d walk past the TRL stage, gleaming behind the windows of Viacom’s Times Square Headquarters. She’d look up at the majestic silver skyscraper with awe. “I always wanted to see inside,” said Lopez, who grew up in the Bronx. “I wanted to be part of what was going on.”

Lopez got her chance to do more than peek inside the building last summer, when Viacom selected her for its first Girls Who Code (GWC) summer immersion program.

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