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Will Griffin

Media entrepreneur William Griffin was born on November 25, 1970 in Austin, Texas. Griffin received his B.A. degree from Dartmouth College, where he was a member of the college’s top-ranked debate team and editor-in-chief of the Black Praxis. Griffin then received his J.D. degree from Harvard Law School and authored the Harvard Report on Urban Music. He also completed the Entrepreneurship Curriculum at Harvard Business School and served as director of the Harvard Consultation Project.

Griffin began his professional career as a financial analyst in the Structured Finance Group at Goldman, Sachs & Company. He subsequently worked in the Entertainment and Media Practice Group of McKinsey & Company and then joined News Corp/Fox Entertainment Group, where he was director of the eDirect initiative. In 2000, Griffin was hired as general manager and executive vice president of business development for eUniverse Network, where, in two quarters, he developed and implemented the turnaround strategy that led to profitability for the industry's largest digital entertainment company. Then, after producing films with Reuben Cannon and Bishop T.D. Jakes, Griffin was named president and chief operating officer of Simmons Lathan Media Group, a film and television production and acquisitions company that develops and distributes urban content across a variety of media platforms. In 2005, he founded, in partnership with Russell Simmons and Stan Lathan, Def on Demand (later named Hip Hop On Demand) on Comcast, the industry's only African American owned Video-on-demand channel, where he serves as chairman and chief executive officer.

Griffin’s projects have won numerous awards including two NAACP Image Awards (Run’s House and Bishop T.D. Jakes’ Woman Thou Art Loosed: The Movie) and the IAB/Brandweek Mixx Silver Award for Interactive Television for Hip Hop On Demand.

Will Griffin was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 9, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.127

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/9/2014

Last Name

Griffin

Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Leverett

Schools

Harvard Law School

Dartmouth College

The Science Academy - Lyndon B. Johnson High School

Pearce Junior High

Harris Elementary

T.A. Brown Elementary

First Name

William

Birth City, State, Country

Austin

HM ID

GRI09

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Favorite Quote

Right Hand, Black Man.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Interview Description
Birth Date

11/25/1970

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Austin

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Spaghetti

Short Description

Entertainment chief executive Will Griffin (1970 - ) served as president and chief operating officer of Simmons Lathan Media Group and founded, in partnership with Russell Simmons and Stan Lathan, Hip Hop On Demand, where he acts as chairman and chief executive officer.

Employment

HipHop on Demand

Simmons/Lathan Media

eUniverse Networks

News Corporation

Mckinsey & Company

Goldman Sachs

Favorite Color

Maroon

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Will Griffin's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Will Griffin lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Will Griffin talks about his maternal family history, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Will Griffin talks about his maternal family history, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Will Griffin talks about his maternal great-grandmother and grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Will Griffin talks about his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Will Griffin talks about his father's family history

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Will Griffin talks about his father

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Will Griffin talks about his family's role in integrating the dormitories at the University of Texas at Austin in Austin, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Will Griffin talks about his father's political activity

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Will Griffin talks about HistoryMaker Pluria Marshall

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Will Griffin talks about politics in Texas and shifts in party membership

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Will Griffin describes finding his great-grandfather's dissertation in the University of Southern California's archives in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Will Griffin talks about the value of his family's legacy

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Will Griffin talks about how his parents met and how his mother's young pregnancies affected her life

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Will Griffin talks about his mother's aspirations prior to having children

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Will Griffin talks about his likeness to his parents and his strict upbringing by his mother

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Will Griffin talks about his mother's radio show on KAZI 80.7 FM in Austin, Texas and the toll of his father's lack of support

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Will Griffin talks about his older sister

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Will Griffin describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Will Griffin lists the places he lived from birth to age eighteen

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Will Griffin recalls the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood in Austin, Texas and his disinterest in school

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Will Griffin recalls his early school years and being sent back to kindergarten because of his behavior

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Will Griffin recalls teachers from his elementary school years

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Will Griffin talks about his grades, his learning disability and playing sports

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Will Griffin describes his religious upbringing

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Will Griffin talks about popular culture that his friends consumed as children

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Will Griffin talks about Michael Jackson and dancing in middle school

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Will Griffin talks about his mother's musical tastes

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Will Griffin talks about the differences between himself and his older sister

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Will Griffin talks about an influential teacher at Pearce Junior High School in Austin, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Will Griffin talks about spending as much time out of the house as possible in his youth

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Will Griffin talks about his high school

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Will Griffin talks about learning Texas history at Lyndon Baines Johnson High School in Austin, Texas

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Will Griffin talks about KAZI, the African American community radio station in Austin, Texas

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Will Griffin talks about hosting a radio show at KAZI, working at a grocery store, and his high school years

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Will Griffin talks about his mentors at KAZI, an African American community radio station in Austin, Texas

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Will Griffin talks about becoming involved in debate in high school

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Will Griffin talks about his love for debate and other aspects of his life during high school

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Will Griffin talks about debate camp, hoping to attend Harvard University and being stripped of his student body president title

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Will Griffin reflects on getting into trouble with his principal at Lyndon Baines Johnson High School in Austin, Texas, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Will Griffin reflects on getting into trouble with his principal at Lyndon Baines Johnson High School in Austin, Texas, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Will Griffin talks about his decision to attend Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Will Griffin talks about his arrival at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Will Griffin talks about HistoryMaker Jesse Jackson

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Will Griffin talks about music that was popular in the early 1990s at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Will Griffin talks about Geto Boys, a hip hop group from Houston, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Will Griffin talks about people who supported him while he was a student at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Will Griffin talks about his decision to major in anthropology at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Will Griffin talks about the Nation of Islam and his ethnography of black Muslims in Harlem, New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Will Griffin talks about Spike Lee's 1992 movie, 'Malcolm X'

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Will Griffin talks about the African American Society and the Black Praxis Journal

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Will Griffin talks about The Dartmouth Review

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Will Griffin talks about a controversy between the Dartmouth Review and the African American Society

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Will Griffin talks about black mentors on campus at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Will Griffin talks about working for Goldman Sachs in New York City after graduating from Dartmouth College

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Will Griffin talks about his activities and study habits at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Will Griffin talks about what he learned while working at Goldman Sachs in New York City

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Will Griffin talks about rooming with Dan Sparks while working at Goldman Sachs in New York City

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Will Griffin talks about being admitted to Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1995

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Will Griffin talks about publishing the Harvard Report on Urban Music his first year at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Will Griffin talks about professors he studied under at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Will Griffin talks about attending Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Will Griffin explains how he was able to work for McKinsey & Company after graduating from Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Will Griffin talks about his work at McKinsey & Company in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Will Griffin talks about working for News Corporation at Fox Studios in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Will Griffin talks about how the 2000 U.S. presidential elections boosted Fox News' viewership

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Will Griffin talks about working with Fox eDirect and transitioning to working at E-Universe

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Will Griffin talks about working for eUniverse for one year

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Will Griffin talks about working as a producer with HistoryMaker Reuben Cannon

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Will Griffin describes how he became president and CEO of Simmons Lathan Media Group

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Will Griffin talks about 'Def Comedy Jam' and 'Def Poetry Jam'

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Will Griffin talks about his involvement with The HistoryMakers DVD series produced by Simmons Lathan Media Group in 2005

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Will Griffin talks about the creation of Hip Hop on Demand and the channel's name change

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Will Griffin describes the type of programming on Hip Hop on Demand

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Will Griffin talks about advocating for more black-owned independent channels

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Will Griffin hopes for an increase in viable black-owned channels in cable

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Will Griffin talks about Netflix

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Will Griffin talks about his consultation and why businesses trust him

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Will Griffin talks about advertising agency UniWorld, founder and HistoryMaker Byron Lewis, and CEO Monique Nelson

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Will Griffin talks about the decline of Jet magazine and advertisers' lack of cultural awareness

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Will Griffin reflects upon his life

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Will Griffin reflects upon what he would have done differently in life

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Will Griffin reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Will Griffin describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Will Griffin describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Will Griffin talks about his family, pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Will Griffin talks about his family, pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Will Griffin reflects upon his graduation from Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Will Griffin reflects upon how he would like to be remembered