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Tanya-Monique Kersey

Magazine editor and magazine publishing chief executive Tanya-Monique Kersey was born on March 22, 1961 in New York City, New York to Cynthia and Al Smith Kersey. She earned her B.A. degree in political science and sociology from Douglass College at Rutgers University in 1983. Kersey began her entertainment career working as a model. She then transitioned into acting, performing in commercials, voiceovers and industrial films.

Kersey appeared on several soap operas such as, All My Children, Search for Tomorrow and The Guiding Light. In 1990, Kersey published the Black State of the Arts: A Guide to Developing a Successful Career as a Black Performing Artist. This book became a proverbial how to manual for African Americans who are launching a career in the industry. In 1994, she established the magazine Black Talent News that focused on news from film, television, theatre and new media industries. After two years of publication Black Talent News became the first African American trade magazine to be accredited by the Motion Picture Association of America and the Television Critics’ Association. In 1997, Kersey participated in the annual Infotainment Conference. In 1999, Black Talent News launched its website www.blacktalentnews.com, which shares information about the industry via the internet. That same year, Kersey began the Hollywood Black Film Festival, a six day celebration of African American cinema. In 2002, Kersey authored and compiled The Black Film Report and the Black Talent News Resource Directory. Kersey is also a frequent contributor and co-host on the Samm Brown’s for the Record radio, show delivering the Urban Entertainment Report on RPFK radio in Los Angeles, California. Kersey is the executive producer of the entertainment newsmagazine show, Inside Urban Hollywood with Tanya Kersey.

In 2002 Kersey was named a “Living History Maker” by Turning Point Magazine . In this same year, she was also named one of Hollywood’s Urban Movers and Shakers by Daily Variety for her work as publisher and editor-in-chief of Black Talent News , as well as for being the founder and executive director of the Hollywood Black Film Festival. Kersey serves on the marketing advisory board of the Independent Feature Project/West and the Pan African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou. She is also a member of the Media Industry Advisory Board at West Los Angeles College.

Tanya- Monique Kersey was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 8, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.198

Sex

Female

Interview Date

7/8/2007

Last Name

Kersey

Maker Category
Marital Status

Separated

Schools

St. Benedict Day Nursery

P.S. 41 02M041 Greenwich Village School

Haworth Public School

Northern Valley Regional High School at Demarest

Douglass Residential College

First Name

Tanya

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

KER02

Favorite Season

Spring

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Cancun, Mexico

Favorite Quote

Hell To The No.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

3/22/1961

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake

Short Description

Magazine editor and magazine publishing chief executive Tanya-Monique Kersey (1961 - ) was the founder and executive director of the Hollywood Black Film Festival in addition to being both publisher and editor-in-chief of Black Talent News.

Employment

Vibe Magazine

Comp USA

Author

Black Talent News

Infotainment Conference

Hollywood Black Film Festival

Favorite Color

White

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Tanya-Monique Kersey's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Tanya-Monique Kersey lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Tanya-Monique Kersey describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Tanya-Monique Kersey describes the sights, sound and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Tanya-Monique Kersey describes her mother's profession

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Tanya-Monique Kersey describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Tanya-Monique Kersey talks about her family gatherings

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Tanya-Monique Kersey describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Tanya-Monique Kersey describes her mother's physical appearance

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Tanya-Monique Kersey describes her West Indian ancestry

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Tanya-Monique Kersey talks about her mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Tanya-Monique remembers her mother's death

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Tanya-Monique Kersey describes her mother's surprise birthday party

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Tanya-Monique Kersey describes her father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Tanya-Monique Kersey remembers her paternal grandmother

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Tanya-Monique Kersey talks about her father's discipline

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Tanya-Monique Kersey describes her paternal stepgrandfather

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Tanya-Monique Kersey recalls her relationship with her father

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Tanya-Monique Kersey describes her father's personality

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Tanya-Monique Kersey remembers the community of Haworth, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Tanya-Monique Kersey describes her father's work with Clarence Thomas

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Tanya-Monique Kersey recalls her parents' move to Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Tanya-Monique Kersey remembers her father's influence

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Tanya-Monique remembers her family's vacations

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Tanya-Monique Kersey talks about her early education

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Tanya-Monique Kersey remembers the Dance Theatre of Harlem in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Tanya-Monique Kersey remembers the Northern Valley Regional High School at Demarest in New Jersey

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Tanya-Monique Kersey talks about her early modeling career

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Tanya-Monique Kersey remembers Douglass Residential College in New Brunswick, New Jersey

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Tanya-Monique Kersey talks about her racial identity

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Tanya-Monique Kersey recalls working as a stand-in on 'The Cosby Show,' pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Tanya-Monique Kersey recalls working as a stand-in on 'The Cosby Show,' pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Tanya-Monique Kersey describes her early acting career

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Tanya-Monique Kersey talks about writing her book

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Tanya-Monique Kersey talks about upper middle class black culture

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Tanya-Monique Kersey talks about her book, 'Black State of the Arts'

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Tanya-Monique Kersey talks about the Black Talent News

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Tanya-Monique Kersey recalls developing the Black Talent News

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Tanya-Monique Kersey talks about the importance of computer literacy

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Tanya-Monique Kersey describes the Infotainment Conference

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Tanya-Monique Kersey talks about her daughters

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Tanya-Monique Kersey describes her marriages

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Tanya-Monique Kersey talks about raising her daughters

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Tanya-Monique Kersey reflects upon her career

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Tanya-Monique Kersey describes the Hollywood Black Film Festival, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Tanya-Monique Kersey describes the Hollywood Black Film Festival, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Tanya-Monique Kersey talks about the success of the Hollywood Black Film Festival

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Tanya-Monique Kersey describes the Faithful Central Bible Church in Inglewood, California

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Tanya-Monique Kersey reflects upon the future of the black film industry, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Tanya-Monique Kersey reflects upon the future of the black film industry, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Tanya-Monique Kersey shares her advice for aspiring actors

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Tanya-Monique Kersey talks about the lack of roles for female actresses

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Tanya-Monique Kersey describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Tanya-Monique Kersey narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$4

DAStory

4$11

DATitle
Tanya-Monique Kersey recalls developing the Black Talent News
Tanya-Monique Kersey describes the Hollywood Black Film Festival, pt. 1
Transcript
Early in the interview you talked about the Infotainment Conference.$$Um-hm.$$In 1997, after you had gotten be- let me stop for a second and go, because I can remember what it was like being in the office when you were putting together Black Talent News. Can you talk about what a normal day was for you, please?$$It was, I tell you, my friend, Shirley [Shirley Jordan] was working with me at the time and we, you know, we had no idea what we were doing. I mean, I really didn't. I was just really blessed. I had this old Macintosh computer that I got back in, I would say 1986 to start writing the book. It was an original PC [personal computer]. It was two 386K floppy drives. No hard drive. My father [Al Kersey] got it for me at ComputerLand, or something like that. Three thousand dollars for two 386 floppy drives. No hard drive, for three thousand dollars. That and a dot matrix printer--I still have the receipt for that and I remember my father, who obviously was not in the generation of computers. He was like, "I could buy a car for this." Because back in 1986, you could buy a Pinto [Ford Pinto] or a Honda or a Toyota for $3,600 dollars, but my father bought me this computer. That's how much he supported me, that he spent $3,600 dollars on this computer, which was unheard of at that time, and I basically wrote my book on that, and that's how I was able to do everything, because I had the tool to do it. You know, I was able to do Black Talent News. We would sit up and use Microsoft Word and we would lay it out and, you know, we didn't even have scanners back then. You had to take the pictures to the photo place and they would do it, it was totally different, and I think now is how do we ever put this publication together? But we did it and we printed it out and we took it to the printer and they printed it out. It was crazy and hectic and, you know, but it was so much fun. There was so much love around. We loved what we were doing. We were making a difference. People knew we were making a difference. You know, people would call even to this day. I run into people and they just hug me. They're like, "You don't know. That changed my life. That gave me hope, you know, hearing what you guys had to say every month," you know, and it did what it did, but yet it was just constantly, trying to get people to buy ads. Nobody wanted to buy any ads from us. You know, just it was tough, it was tough, but it was great fun; and I would do it again if I had to.$You started something a few years ago that, in a town like this [Los Angeles, California] it was needed, it was most welcome and it has become an annual pilgrimage, is what I call it. We're talking about the Hollywood Black Film Festival. Can you speak about that please?$$You know, that started out of Infotainment, with filmmakers saying they wanted a place to exhibit their films and, you know, I sat down and I looked at it and I said okay. Well, because of Black Talent News, I have an in to the power brokers in Hollywood; you know, people that I know are studio executives or agents, or the people that people are trying to reach. So I have a way to get them, to bring them to the festival. And then, in terms of starting the festival, I needed to figure out how could I do it so that the industry would pay attention, and USC [University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California], being the number one film school in the country, offered me the opportunity to launch the film festival on their campus. So, there was no better way to start a black film festival in Hollywood that wanted to be considered reputable and important and relevant, than to do it on USC's campus, and that's what we did and, you know, got Forest Whitaker as our honorary chairperson, Oscar [Academy Award] winner now, you know, so to have him there and we opened with a film by [HistoryMaker] Tim Reid, with Blair Underwood and some other people. Just really got the right people there, the right mix of people. And, I think that just having Hollywood as a part of my everyday life is what legitimized it, because people were starting film festivals every day all over the world, and it's not about just starting a film festival, it's about, for the panels that you do, who are you gonna get there that will give them access, the people who can get access to movers and shakers. Lots of people have film festivals and you look at the panels and you're just like, well, what are they gonna teach me. You know, so that was my thing, was to bring Infotainment Conference, which was already established and already had a long list of power brokers and important people, bring that in, so basically the film festival absorbed Infotainment. And then, in terms of the films, you know, coming up with an identity, 'cause we didn't want to be the booty shaking hip-hop film festival. We wanted this to be a festival of films that Hollywood ignores, meaning this is the black love story, this is the black drama, this is the black action film that could be on the big screen, but isn't. We didn't want to do low brow comedies. You know, we really wanted to have a programming philosophy that would appeal to the filmmakers who were out there trying to break through, and that would appeal to the industry, and we just came up with the right combination and, you know, over the years we've just grown from three days and twenty films to six days and 125 films, and now we have over one hundred panelists every year, as we have had heads of studios, and now--I mean the list of people who have spoken is just amazing and, you know, that's because I have a great team of people; and everybody's volunteer.