“Never second guess yourself or your abilities.”
An Interview with Angela Cannon
WICT Southeast sat down with Angela Cannon, Vice President, Channel Manager for UP Faith & Family, to ask her six burning questions and tell us why, now more than ever, it’s essential to renew your membership or join WICT Southeast.
Tell me 3 personal things that people might find surprising.
- When I first started college, I had every intention to attend medical school to become an OBGYN. I worked as an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) and later worked at a hospital as a Phlebotomist to earn money for college.
- I ran a half marathon in Kona, Hawaii, to raise funds for stroke victims.
- I’m an author of a children’s book, “Who Am I? I’m God’s Princess” and I own an e-commerce beauty store, called I Love Us.
Briefly, tell us about your path to your current position at UP Family & Family!
My career path has definitely had some interesting twists along the way. I majored in Biology during college, and upon graduation, immediately moved to Los Angeles. After a few disappointing interviews to be a lab technician, I landed a research analyst role at Warner Bros. While working in research, I caught the entertainment bug, and also wanted to further my education. I decided to obtain a post-graduate degree and earned an MBA with a concentration in marketing. After graduating, I was working at Walt Disney as a Sr. Research Analyst and abruptly decided to take a leap of faith to move to Atlanta. I began a new role at Gospel Music Channel/UP Entertainment three weeks prior to the launch of the network and 15 years later, I’m still here.
My journey at UP Entertainment has afforded me extensive experience to launch new networks, including UPtv and aspire TV, as well as the direct-to-consumer Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) service, UP Faith & Family, across technologies, distribution platforms, and devices. I’ve also worked in content distribution and marketing, and international program sales.
I began my career at Gospel Music Channel/UP Entertainment creating research affiliate and ad sales decks, which led to building the affiliate marketing department, which led to becoming VP, Affiliate Marketing and VP, National Accounts, Content Distribution and Marketing. In this role, not only was I lead marketer with top distributors DIRECTV, DISH and Amazon, but one of my most notable accomplishments was being a key member of the team that conceptualized and launched aspire TV, in partnership with Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Aspire TV is the entertainment destination that reflects, shares and celebrates the experiences of black culture and urban lifestyle.
I was fortunate to lead all marketing efforts for our SVOD service, UP Faith & Family. After several years working on the SVOD service with distributors and serving a pivotal role in relaunching the direct to consumer app, I am now Vice President and Channel Manager, heading up the service for the past year and a half. I oversee strategic planning and business strategy, while orchestrating daily operations including technology, management of P&L, content acquisition, programming, marketing, distribution, data science, operations, planning and analysis.
Working at UP Entertainment, aspire TV and ultimately, UP Faith & Family, have afforded me the opportunity to get up each day and work for brands that unapologetically hold true to inspiring others to be a better version of themselves through positive and uplifting entertainment. Who wouldn’t love to say inspiring others is my true passion?
What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
Oh, do you mean just 5 years ago? Just kidding. Well, looking back, I would tell myself to “be fearless”, “get comfortable, being uncomfortable”, because that’s where growth is and “never second guess yourself or your abilities.” There are moments in my career where taking the easy road seemed to be best choice. However, had I just been fearless and looked at life as a gift worth living to the fullest, I definitely would have made some different decisions. I’m also a believer that you are exactly where you are supposed to be. Where I sit right now in this iteration of our swiftly evolving, video streaming industry, I’m truly blessed.
I would also tell myself to be more mindful of the gifts God gave me. Being an innovator, motivator, conceptualist, executor and confidant are my corporate gifts. It all works for our good, but we must recognize our unique gifts and be grateful for them.
In our industry, change seems to be happening more quickly than ever. How do you personally deal with unexpected change and how do you help your team navigate it?
In this ever-evolving world, it’s very important to stay informed on new technologies, monitor changes and advances in the industry, and be relentless about how to continue to build your skillsets within it. Streaming, although on a growth trajectory, is still a relatively small industry. Networking and getting involved in industry events, webinars, conferences are key. I’m proud to say I serve as a mentor for the Women in Streaming Media Pilot Mentorship Program and have built a strong network of mentors in the industry to help me navigate the nuances of this ever-evolving industry.
For the team I lead, this narrative is no different. I encourage them to get involved in industry organizations, seminars, events, webinars etc., network, create alliances with colleagues in the industry, and above all else, continue to take advantage of all educational opportunities. You can never know enough and the advances in technology, digital marketing strategies, and best practices evolve on a daily basis. The core of what we do is to optimize and test everything. If it was good the first time, then it can be great the next time.
I’m a motivator by nature. I expect a great deal of my team. I constantly ask the hard questions, encourage excellence and push them to always be forward-thinking. In this streaming world, there is no status-quo. Therefore, we can’t be status quo either. That is why I love this industry so much. No day, no problem, and no solution are the same.
What guidance do you have for someone who is looking to advance their career in the cable industry during this tumultuous time of cord cutting and now COVID-19?
My advice would be to become an expert in understanding the shifts in the industry. You must be vigilant in your efforts to understand how SVOD, AVOD, TVOD, Live-Linear, e-commerce, mobile, etc., fit into your current career path. Television, and particularly cable television, is still a vital business. However, the new digital video space is a true force that has shaken up the way we program our networks, market to and connect with our viewers and produce new or acquire content. Additionally, the technologies we use, data and audience insights are all being impacted by streaming.
Some companies were already remote-friendly, but with the onset of COVID-19, other companies had to pivot and adapt very quickly. Therefore, offering positions that can easily be performed remotely are going to become more of the norm, and frankly, more of what the work-force expects. If you aren’t tech savvy, take a class. There are plenty of courses that are accessible and available for no to low cost. If you’re interested in digital marketing, data science, social media, graphic design or omni-channel opportunities (email, SMS, Push, social media, etc.), then by all means, take the time to learn as much as you can.
This year’s theme for WICT Southeast is “Connect to your peers, your industry and everything around you.” In what way does this resonate with you and why do you think this message is important now more than ever for people who have not joined or renewed their WICT membership?
I don’t know about you, but living in the midst of a pandemic, communication is now relegated to Zoom meetings, Facetime or Microsoft Teams calls, which aided in re-evaluating my priorities. Creating space to “be still” has afforded me the opportunity to better connect with family, friends and co-workers on a level I was not able to before.
Life seemed to pass so quickly prior to March 2020. It was filled with work, home and church, other hobbies and my activities with WICT. But the weeks were long and weekends felt super short to non-existent. Although I have been blessed to continue to work and be home with family, I have made a focused priority to continue to lead by learning. I connect through webinars (WICT offers great topics), seek out classes, research other companies’ best practices, dive deeply into our KPI’s (Key performance Indicators) and continue to analyze strengths and weaknesses to enhance the strategic stake in the marketplace for the SVOD service I lead, as well as for myself and my team.
WICT, by far, is an organization that never fails its members. Even in a pandemic, the opportunities to learn and grow your career and personal life were/are vast. From lunch & learns on financial tips in uncertain times, to continuous webinars on industry topics to pro-social efforts, WICT is a well-rounded “essential” organization. I for one, am a proud member. Advancing career opportunities and an increased network of strong industry professionals, make it all worth it. If you have not joined or renewed your WICT membership, do it today!
WICT offers four levels of membership. Membership dues are based on your career level, providing a more affordable alternative to those just starting out. It’s easy to join! For more information on what a WICT membership can do for you or to renew your membership, go here for more information.