In the Q&A below, get to know more about PBS'er Nicole Eley-Carr. As Manager of Digital Content & Strategy, Nicole is focused on promoting PBS' rich cultural content. She is the founding manager of PBS Black Culture Connection, where she oversees day-to-day operations and content strategy of the site.
Nicole's career has led her in and out of Sub-Saharan Africa, working in news and non-profit communications. Before joining PBS, she served as a videographer and digital producer for Africare, promoting the voice of international development and humanitarian aid in Africa.
Q. When did you join PBS, and what led you to want to work here?
I joined PBS in January 2011, but it's safe to say my journey to PBS began in the early 90's watching Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego and Miss Frizzle's Magic School Bus! Classics!
There was one film in particular that set me on a sure path to PBS: A powerful and moving documentary about the American Civil Rights Movement, Eyes on the Prize. This one film somehow connected me to decades of my own history in a way that I had never truly understood or learned about in the classroom. I realized in that moment the great importance (and responsibility) of media to tell stories like these, and to connect people to their history and each other. It set me on a path to get my degree in broadcast journalism, travel around the world capturing incredible stories through digital video, and gratefully to PBS where it's now my turn to help create and share these types of stories with a new generation.
Q. You serve as editor of PBS Black Culture Connection. Tell us about the genesis of the site, and your goals for it.
PBS Black Culture Connection (BCC) is a new online channel for Black History and Culture on pbs.org.
Several years ago, we discovered that iconic films and sites such as Eyes on the Prize regularly received more web traffic than some of our current, on-going series. We also learned that pbs.org under-indexed for the African American audience online, despite having a rich archive of unique content. So we developed the BCC to connect users to this incredibly rich content in their communities and around the nation through an expansive collection of films, online discussions and digital resources that are fueled by trusted public media partners, including Stanley Nelson, Skip Gates, independent producers like Independent Lens and POV, the National Black Programming Consortium and over a dozen member stations.
It's a great site that opens a channel for thoughtful and educational conversations about black history, with topics ranging from the 40th Anniversary of Hip-Hop to the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington. If you haven't had a chance to already, please stop by to check it out!
Q. BCC's "Because of Them, We Can" campaign kicked off at the beginning of February in honor of Black History Month. Tell us a little about it.
Imagine a campaign that connects youth to heroes of the past. Because of Them, We Can unites over a century of Black history and culture through powerful imagery that represents iconic figures of yesterday and today. The BCC is partnering with the campaign through an original blog series that goes "Behind the Lens" of each photo to share candid details about the shoots and the people who inspired them. It's truly uplifting and worth a visit.
Q. This campaign aims to connect a new generation to heroes who paved the way. Who do you consider to be your biggest influence or hero, and why?
Oh, wow. How do I pick only one? Well, let me say that my family inspires me daily. We were five living generations (until very recently) that come from all stretches of the world. It's a humbling reminder that we owe a lot of who we are today to the those generations who came before us, and the sacrifices they made. That thought keeps me grounded. It keeps me pushing to do my best always. And it's a legacy I hope to continue.
Q. Black Culture Connection (BCC) played a huge role in PBS' coverage of the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington. Can you tell us a little bit about your involvement in last summer's commemorative programming, including your favorite moment?
This was a fun project! The BCC teamed up with with partners across PBS to host the "PBS Digital March," a collection of more than 50 films and online events to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. We wanted to give visitors the opportunity to engage in meaningful conversation about the 1963 March and with the people who were there!
Favorite moment: Connecting our viewers directly to filmmakers of The March for a LIVE chat during its broadcast premiere… all the way from London! It was such a unique way to experience the film!
Q. What activities or sites in the DMV area would you recommend to colleagues, tourists or anyone wishing to further explore black culture?
I am personally counting down to the 2015 opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture! I would also recommend the MLK Memorial by the DC Tidal Basin.
And, of course, pbs.org/bcc!
Q. Where did you grow up? What do you like or miss most about your hometown?
Growing up, I split my time between Chicago and Hampton Roads, Virginia. Many know the awe and beauty of Chicago, so I'll just add that if you ever find yourself in Hampton Roads in the summer, it's worth a trip to VA Beach for one of the Air Shows.
Q. And finally, finish this sentence: PBS is special because...
... it uses media to educate and inspire!