Exclusive Interview with Tiffany Smith-Anoa’i
Interview by Joss Gomez
Article by Dr. Laura Wilhelm
We had the opportunity of interviewing Tiffany Smith-Anoa’i, Executive Vice President of Entertainment Diversity, Inclusion and Communications for CBS Entertainment, she opened her heart to us and talked about her career and projects; let’s see what she is all about…
MIHM: Tell us a little bit about you, where you are from and how did you start working for CBS?
Tiffany: I am a native Angelino, so I am a real California girl. I love being from Los Angeles; it’s the entertainment capital of the world. When I was 8 years old, I was watching football and I saw a sports broadcaster come on screen. I was mesmerized as I had never seen a female sports broadcaster in my life, and she was a woman of color! She was one of the first female sports broadcasters of color at that time and at that moment I said, that is what I want to do.
I attended Howard University and my first internship was with a CBS affiliate in Washington DC. Once I was in the news room, I realized I didn’t want to be a sports broadcaster, but instead wanted to work behind the camera. I had an amazing friend that put my name in the hat to become a publicist at CBS, and that was over 17 years ago.
I was the publicist for several shows on the network and I really saw the need for an Entertainment Diversity executive, so I created that position in my head, made a nice little Power Point presentation for my boss and marched right into his office and said, “I don’t think you realize how smart I am, you are not managing me in the most effective way, this is where television is going.”
I think he was a little taken aback, but I could see in his eyes that he respected that I had a vision. And I ultimately wanted the network to do better within this arena. Therefore, I was able to create a position that did not exist and I am really proud of it.
MIHM: We think you can inspire other people to follow their dreams in the entertainment industry. What advice would you give to any person who is thinking about working in the entertainment industry?
Tiffany: My biggest advice to anyone is that if you really want to get into this industry you really need to make sure you are doing your homework and be what we call a “Student of the Business,” so that means you know the ins and outs of the industry overall. In this day and age nearly everyone has a cellphone, so there is no excuse not to be able to look something up. Internships are also a great opportunity in the industry because people hire who they know.
MIHM: Define what success means to you?
Tiffany: I think that success for me personally means that I have reached a goal that I set for myself every day. There is no pinnacle of success, because to me, it’s something that you keep chasing.
MIHM: Who has been your biggest mentor in your career?
Tiffany: My biggest mentors in my career are my mother and father, because they shaped me into everything that I am today. Also my boss, Chris Ender, who believed in me when I walked into his office that day and expressed what I wanted to do.
MIHM: Can you tell us, why CBS cares about diversity?
Tiffany: We want to reflect the audience that we serve. It’s not solely what you see in front of the camera which gets the most attention because we want to make sure we are really bringing new writers, actors and fresh directors in the rooms to be provided the same opportunity as others.
The smart business imperative is that there is a whole segment of the population that has tremendous buying power. If you are not tapping into that and utilizing it, then you are not going to be sustainable.
MIHM: Are you working on any other projects?
Tiffany: Yes. We have numerous initiatives including CBS On Tour, the Directors Initiative, the Diversity Sketch Comedy Showcase, the Drama Diversity Casting Initiative and the Writers Mentoring Program.
For the full interview please visit our website
Follow Tiffany on Twitter
@TSmithAnoai and @CBSEntDiversity
For more info go to: CBSDiversity.com