Disrupting Black Entertainment Media with David Lee

Karla Jo Helms
4 min readMar 15


Disruption Interruption podcast host and veteran communications disruptor Karla Jo Helms interviews David Lee, Founder and CEO of Ebony Ascent — and discovers how Lee’s disruptive approach to Black entertainment media is transforming how African American communities are connecting.

While the African American population is growing in the U.S., most media within the country grossly underrepresents this group. When there is representation, it is often based upon stereotypes. According to data, 70% of respondents in a survey stated that Hollywood films often give into stereotypes when portraying racial minorities. This issue is not only found on-screen. Approximately 75.2% of employees in TV newsrooms are white, and in radio news, a meager 5.1% of the workforce in 2017 were African American. In the publishing industry, figures gathered around the same time show that 87% of employees were white, in comparison to only 2% African American.¹

Additional research performed by McKinsey & Company reveals the glaring disparity in the representation of the Black community via media. In its research, McKinsey discovered that fewer Black-led stories are told, and these projects are consistently underfunded and undervalued even when they are. The fact is that Black professionals are grossly underrepresented in executive decision-making roles throughout the media industry. A stunning 87% of TV executives and 92% of film executives are white.²

David Lee is on a mission to provide a space to empower the potential of his own culture through one unified source of real information, insights, and media. Through the founding of Ebony Ascent, Lee is leading the way in developing a space where authentic conversations can take place, where Black-led stories can be told, and where a community can be built.

Born a disruptor, Lee has always questioned and analyzed the world around him, never content with the status quo. During a lucrative career in the tech industry, Lee was hit with his own moment of disruption — the realization that he was extremely unhappy and was conforming to a norm that left him profoundly dissatisfied. After stepping out of this role, Lee decided to found Ebony Ascent. What would begin as a space for Lee to share his financial and business insights became a powerful disruption in the Black entertainment media market.

During this compelling interview, Lee explains:

  1. The strong need for authenticity in a world where people are continually conforming and how this authenticity will lead to valuable conversations.
  2. The way Ebony Ascent grew to become a place for important topics to be discussed in ways that connect with the African American community on a deep and rich level.
  3. How culture is much bigger than just race, and the critical importance of communicating with your culture in the language you understand.
  4. The exciting ways in which Ebony Ascent is empowering creators and showcasing important stories, such as highlighting women and people of color in tech.
  5. Why the content Lee and those participating in his platform are creating is not about views and likes, but instead is about true engagement and connection.

To continue to hear from the biggest Industry Disruptors of today, tune into Disruption Interruption. Through this podcast, learn what has motivated innovative individuals to effect real change in their industries and find out how they tackle opposition to transformation.

Quote of the show:

10:17 “Right. Culture is bigger than just race, and it’s this community-type field of how we connect and even goes back, anthropologically. If you start looking at when we were tribes and all this stuff or whatever, like each tribe had their own way of communicating. Something just feels like home, right? Yeah. Like if, you know, if you grow up with brothers and sisters, they just feel like home. There is a language that you and your brothers and sister have that nobody else has, but you automatically understand you walk into a room and see your brother.”

About David Lee:

In the past 15 years, David Lee has come to understand the complexity of digital identity, and he’s built a career helping executives understand it too. Although David Lee started his career as an Enterprise Architect and thought leader, after answering a life-long personal conviction to help others, David now teaches families and individuals to achieve financial literacy and security.


  1. Amy Watson, “Minorities in Media in the U.S. — Statistics & Facts” November 19, 2018, https://www.statista.com/topics/3342/minorities-in-media/#dossierKeyfigures
  2. McKinsey & Company, “Black representation in film and TV: The challenges and impact of increasing diversity.” March 11, 2021, https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/diversity-and-inclusion/Black-representation-in-film-and-tv-the-challenges-and-impact-of-increasing-diversity

And lastly, if you’re a disruptor…

I would like to chat with Karla Jo about maximizing my Disruptive Thought Leadership — contact KJ Helms.

I’d like to learn about the ROI of Anti-PR — download this ROI eBook.

I would like to apply to be a guest on Disruption Interruption.



Karla Jo Helms

Karla Jo Helms is the Chief Evangelist & Anti-PR Strategist for JOTO PR Disruptors. She speaks globally on how the control of public opinion drives markets.