*If it’s true that a person’s name can take you places then Jubba Seyyid’s moniker has provided quite a journey.
One that has taken him from overseas to stateside to his current role as TV One’s senior director of programming and production.
Not bad for someone who attracted laughs, assumptions and jeers starting out in the entertainment industry from those who seemingly knew all about him after one look at his name.
“I remember a friend of mine had given my resume to an executive at another network at the time. She walked in as they were looking at resumes and they were laughing at my name,” said the University of Notre Dame graduate, who confessed to living in an African village during part of his childhood. “Who knew how many times I sent my resume out with ‘Jubba Seyyid’ and there have been judgments made about me based on my name? I do recognize that and that’s been a problem. I have people directly say ‘Oh. I was expecting to see a towel on your head.’ I’ve had the most ridiculous things said to me because of my name ’til they meet me in person, I suppose.”
Seyyid’s name may have been an obstacle, but the entertainment exec’s knack for meeting the right people proved dominant after he was introduced to Bob Wright, the then-president of NBC. Soon after, the former ABC Sports intern found himself in New York City, where he clocked in time assisting Wright in the corporate communications department as part of NBC’s page program.
Seyyid’s experience producing shows for MTV, CBS and Fox as well as various dating, game and online shows proved useful towards his transition to TV One. The executive’s success at the network is marked by a string of hit shows that include “LisaRaye: The Real McCoy,” “Donald J. Trump Presents…The Ultimate Merger,” “Love That Girl,” R&B Divas” and “Unsung.” While the popularity of “The Real McCoy,” “Ultimate Merger” and “R&B Divas” may constitute a lean towards more reality TV programming, Seyyid has greater goals in mind for TV One. Goals that rely more on a scripted format rather than the exploits of real people.
“I think at the end of the day, what you can do with scripted that you can’t necessarily do with reality is that you can rerun a successful scripted show for decades,” he shared with EUR’s Lee Bailey. “You can see from our network from the successful shows that we’ve acquired. From “Martin” to “Sanford & Son” and “Living Single.” All those shows are shows from the ‘90s and ‘70s and ‘80s.”
“Scripted is new for us. We’ve only had it since we’ve started with “Love That Girl” two and half years ago. We obviously would love to do more of that. It’s just a matter of timing,” continued Seyyid. “We’re only eight years old. So the fact that we’re doing scripted now is a testament to the amount of work and effort that the whole team is putting together to make sure TV One can compete in the marketplace where we know that scripted is an essential part of that.”
Looking ahead, Seyyid revealed that viewers can look forward to a new season of “R&B Divas” in January as well as “some really incredible announcements” concerning the show within the next two weeks. Despite being tight-lipped about the upcoming news, he put to rest reports of the departure of Brownstone singer Nicci Gilbert from the show.
“Nicci Gilbert is a part of TV One’s “R&B Divas.” She is still a part of our cast,” Seyyid stated. “Those rumors that were on the Internet were just that. They were rumors.”
As for TV One itself, Seyyid, who hopes to strike gold with “Belle’s,” an upcoming comedy starring Keith David and Elise Neal, in addition to building upon the success of “R&B Divas” while expanding the network’s reach beyond its target audience.
“Five years from now, I would love to be able to tell you that I’m at an African-American network that is now even has a larger and broader audience and my contribution to the network has been a part of the reason why we have an even bigger and broader audience,” the Emmy-nominated producer stated. “We just pull more people in to get the African American experience to become even more mainstream than it is. We’ve seen what hip-hop can do. We’ve seen what soul music and gospel…we know how those things have infiltrated the mainstream. I think the next step is for the African American network to sort of really become a part of the household in America the way “The Cosby Show” did as an individual show. I’d love to see our entire network do the same thing.”
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