In this Q&A, founder & president of the National Black Movie Association, Agnes Moss, shares her inspirations and how she sees the media world evolving.
1. Tell us a bit about your background. What were your first few jobs and how did they get you to where you are today?
I have an extensive background in media, television, communications/PR, and education. I have always wanted to connect with people and share stories. While my passion was filmmaking, I landed in television early in my career.
My first few jobs were in television and the media. My very first job was working at a local television station in Washington, DC as a production assistant. The job consisted of long hours, challenging work and low pay. I was genuinely happy to have that job as it was highly competitive, so I took the time to network and learn all that I could. Because I wanted that job and I was motivated to advance in the industry, I gave it my all. That job set the tone for my work ethic. I learned that if you want anything in life, you have to go out and get it. I also learned that I cannot depend on others to create opportunities for me, and yet it is up to me to make it happen when I am given an opportunity. In essence, opportunities are not a birthright, but when you are fortunate enough to get one – you have to exceed the expectations.
2. What inspired you to start the National Black Movie Association?
I started the National Black Movie Association because I love connecting with people and sharing stories. However, there is a huge void in Black representation. The lack of diversity in the film industry inspired me to start the association. We are a 501(c)3 organization consisting of filmmakers, film stakeholders, and film enthusiasts who champion Black films, advocate for diversity and inclusion in the film industry, and promote equity in film education.
I was once an aspiring filmmaker. I did not lack the talent or passion to create or share stories; however, I lacked the resources and access to make it a viable career. I pursued a career in television news because I thought it was a more accessible vehicle to telling and sharing stories. I quickly learned that it was not the same type of stories I was enthusiastic about, so it led to years of feeling unfulfilled professionally.
I started the National Black Movie Association for our community to celebrate who we are, our culture and to have a voice in how our stories are told on a global level through the media. I also started the organization to be a bridge for the next generation of Black storytellers, especially those attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
3. What does your day-to-day look like working at the association?
I have learned that a nonprofit is initiated by passion, but many factors must be in place to sustain a nonprofit, especially in the film/media industry. My day-to-day activities at the association primarily include networking, fundraising and researching opportunities to expand the organization’s reach. As a result, I am constantly using media – both traditional and social – to share who we are and what we do with the world. The most important day-to-day activities revolve around ensuring we have the funds to provide services and expand our programs. It is imperative to stay abreast of latest media/film industry trends and best practices for nonprofits.
My day-to-day activities vary. I start mornings with a coffee meeting at least three times a week. I go into the office for an internal meeting with my team before starting external meetings- either Zoom, phone or in-person – for the day. If I do not have a coffee meeting that morning, I try to schedule a lunch meeting since networking is key for nonprofits. The latter part of the day is reserved for west coast meetings before I close out with my team.
I am also the mother of a seven-year-old daughter, and I try to make sure we do not miss a beat. She is a competitive cheerleader, so I manage my day-to-day work activities and meetings around making sure my “Mommy Duties” are fulfilled. It is hard work, but I would not have it any other way.
4. How do you see the media world evolving each day?
The media world is one of the most fast-evolving industries in the world. I think we do not really see it because we are in it. You just look up one day and things are completely different. Just think, thirty years ago social media did not exist and today we are heavily dependent on it. Now there is the Metaverse, and things are not slowing down. Someone once said to me, “Today is the slowest day of your life because of the media and technology.” I totally believe them now. As the media evolves, I am learning I must evolve with it.
5. What is your advice to young people looking to get into the world of media & entertainment?
I am a resolute mentor. I tell my mentees all the time to become a student of the media and entertainment industry. To cut through the clutter, you have to find a void or something that is needed – either a product, service or something unique. If you are providing something that already exists, make sure your offering is spectacular. Twenty years ago, the National Black Movie Association did not exist; however, we are providing a service that is much needed for aspiring filmmakers attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities. I know because I was one of those students who needed this association. My trajectory would have been different if I had a resource like the National Black Movie Association. I advise young people in the world of media and entertainment to be bold, creative, and persistent.
6. Anything else you’d like to add:
The National Black Movie Association is for everyone who champions Black films, advocates for diversity and inclusion in film and the media and promotes equity in film education. For more information, visit blackmovieassociation.org and join the community on social media:
Facebook at National Black Movie Day
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