Staff Writer: Anisa Saigo
Hampton University’s Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications on Nov. 29 had the pleasure of welcoming Amir Windom, a top entertainment executive and visionary of today’s culture. Windom has served roles as an A&R executive and creative director, as well as making history with an impressive list of the industry’s biggest entertainers such as Kanye West, Pharell Williams, Bruno Mars and Trey Songz.
Windom earned Grammy Awards for film soundtracks that have reach gold and platinum status. This Atlanta native has used his creative ad marketing strategies to oversee major film and TV shows such as Entourage, Being Mary Jane, Takers, Stomp The Yard 2 and Act Like A Lady Think Like a Man. Windom has compiled many achievements in the music, film and media business.
The Hampton Script spoke with Windom about his life, his value and advice to the next generation in media.
HS: What type of household did you grow up in, how has it affected you and do you believe that your childhood had an impact on who you are today?
AW: Whew!! Y’all are asking deep questions! I grew up in a very eclectic, free-flowing musical … household. My mother and father are Californians, and they have a very free spirit. My dad was very strict and was a suited man. He started a lot of festivals; one in particular was the Atlanta Jazz Festival. It happens every year on Memorial Day in Atlanta. He used to penalize me, but I always [was] a little trouble growing up. As I got older, I realized that he wanted to teach me lessons to be prepared for life, for now. I learned a lot from my parents, and the way [they] raised me is now reflecting onto my son.
HS: Do you believe attending an HBCU helped mold you into the man you are today?
AW: Absolutely! I have debates with people all the time. You know everyone is now on the HBCU train because of Beyoncé and Coachella. Someone recently asked me why did I go to an HBCU? They were asking because they were trying to dethrone HBCUs. I said you’re going to work in a world that doesn’t look like you naturally. African-Americans are going to work in a world where we have to adapt. I think that HBCUs submerge you in culture and learning about your identity, which is important. It prepares you to be adaptable. The world is not all African-American, it teaches you to be authentic to yourself. It mentally strengthens you, too. Sometimes being a person color in these professions is not about your talent, it’s about your mental resiliencies.
HS: How do you think HBCUs can prepare students for the entertainment industry?
AW: I see a shift happening now. When I was at FAMU (Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University), a lot of professors saw the power in entertainment. They saw [and] were interested in it. Black people are very entertaining. I think HBCUs are starting to see the power. It is important to create a curriculum and programming around it. We are a strong force in the entertainment business. The entertainment business has one of the most influential platforms of any industry. If you have African-Americans on these platforms, we should be cultivating our students to be within the industry. Whether it is behind the scenes or in front. I think it is important now to get us connected to the industry. If we start adding to the curriculum, we will see a lot of noise coming from HBCU students in the entertainment industry.
HS: As a Grammy Award winner, producer and complete powerhouse, what would you say is
your greatest accomplishment?
AW: I thought it was working on this song and that song, but it is the Black News Channel, which is launching soon. It’s purely for the elevation for African-Americans, and we get to control the narrative. Everything that I have done has led me to this point. I get to put content and tell the story of our people. Hopefully this [will be] long-running and influential. It allows everyone of all ages to see images of those who look like them. We will have a live newscast every day. It will have a lot of original programming. Everything will be fresh. Being able to create a network to shed light on the positivity of black people.
HS: What’s next?
AW: Black News Channel is a big factor. On the movie side, there’s a lot that will go into that. I look at my talents like my kids. You have to put love into everything you do.