God, I wish that we could use social media only for good. I think that there’s so many opportunities to increase employment and jobs and we have all the tools and resources to do it and we don’t use them in the best ways. We need to use social media for good, like finding all the ways that we could use technology, along with person to person interactions to increase opportunities for people of color. That’s my day to day; it’s brought me the greatest reward in my career so far.

As part of our series about ‘5 Steps We Must Take To Truly Create An Inclusive, Representative, and Equitable Society’ I had the pleasure to interview Yvette Urbina, Vice President, Equity + Inclusion, Programs and Content, WarnerMedia, at the 2022 South by Southwest Festival (SXSW) in Austin, Texas.

Yvette is a proven programming leader with a producer background — the right mix of creativity and business and a driving force behind iconic series like THE O.C., THAT ’70s SHOW and KING OF THE HILL as well as the Emmy Award-winning live-action Nickelodeon comedy, NICKY, RICKY DICKY & DAWN.

Urbina most recently served as VP, Nickelodeon Current Series and Development. In this role, she was a member of the executive leadership team that sustained Nickelodeon’s position as the number one rated, ad-supported, basic cable network from 2011–2019.

Urbina was recruited in 2009 by Oscar-nominated actor, director, and producer Salma Hayek. As the Vice President of Television Development for Salma’s production company, Ventanarosa Productions, she created Latino-culture and Spanish-language comedy and drama series concepts for an exclusive relationship with ABC Studios.

She serves on the boards of Los Angeles Team Mentoring, an organization that guides middle school students growing up in challenging urban environments; as well as Colour Entertainment, whose board is dedicated to providing dynamic opportunities for members to network with senior level executives as they navigate the media landscape.

Yvette is a native of Los Angeles, California and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Government from Georgetown University.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I was a creative exec for many years, and I often say that when you are a woman, and a woman of color in the business, you find yourself sometimes being the only person on a team. Christy Haubegger who is the head of all the pillars of our E+I team was talking about doing it differently, changing systems. We had three separate pillars — content, pipeline and workforce and we said let’s make it an entire team of people that are doing E+I together. So it wasn’t solo work anymore, it was part of the process. It was being impactful on a much wider, bigger scale.

Can you share the most interesting story that has happened to you since you began your career?

I’ve had so many great opportunities. I’ve met some amazing people. I think about the fact that I watched The Mary Tyler Moore Show as a kid and then I met her. She did an episode of That ’70s Show. To me, it’s really amazing when you meet people that have been your idols. I’ve had a chance to work with Selma Hayek. Just in terms of being a Latina and artist and having her backstory and then to be working with her every day was incredible for me in my career.

Tell us about the funniest mistake you have made when you were first starting? What lesson did you learn from that?

There was a story when I got my first job at a talent agency. The first question that I was asked by the senior assistant was “Who’s on the cover of Variety today?” I will tell you, I knew nothing about Variety, like really nothing and she still hired me. I think I was like I really know nothing and she still hired me. I’m still friends with that person.

Thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our discussion. Can you describe how you are helping to make the culture of diversity move inclusive in the U.S.?

The work we do is global. Every day my job is to work with our content creators and our creative executives and the people across the enterprise at Warner Media and help them create content that’s more inclusive. Whether that’s by providing them with content resources from our partnership, to just introducing somebody who maybe is great at HBO to a person at Warner Bros. who may not have met them before. It’s about really trying to give opportunity where it hasn’t existed before. So that’s a big part of my role. That’s just like staffing, a basic introduction of people from our programs to our content. That’s pretty much my every day.

Can you tell a story about a particular individual who impacted your career?

My first boss in the TV industry was Asian American. I have this job because of him. He specifically made real efforts to hire people of color back in a time when not a lot of people were doing that. I think about him a lot because I know that he’s the reason that I have this career, that I have this job. I had jumped from an agency to work in TV and I always thought about how much he fought for the people in his community and when he’d reached a level where he could do that, he did. I’m so grateful to have reached that level in my career that I can do that now.

Can you recommend three things the community/society/the industry can do to help address the root of diversity issues especially in the entertainment industry?

Well, it’s definitely a system change. We have to change it from the top down. So the first thing is leadership. All of these companies have to embrace the idea of inclusiveness and what it means to change systems and how we do that. I think a top down approach is the only way to make that work.

Number two, I think it’s being open to people from the pipeline. We can create all the programs we want, but if you are not engaged and interested in meeting those people and helping them grow and succeed, then they’re just gonna stay down at the bottom. We’re not going to help them rise.

The third would be just recognizing that it’s okay to make mistakes. I think in this journey of equity and inclusion, I still learn every single day. You’re maybe not always going to use the right pronoun or you’re not always going to use the correct phrase or word, but if you are really making an effort, then you can impact change.

What are your “3 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why?

I wish someone told me I would make it this long in my career. I didn’t really know where I’d end up. You don’t realize there’s so many other opportunities and pathways to jobs. I wish that I had known that.

I wish that I had known that it’s okay for work not to be your whole existence. I really cannot stress enough how much that some time off really made a huge impact in how I’ve looked at work.

And third, my friendships. I think Hollywood can become particularly insular. So I’ve really tried to expand my worldview.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

God, I wish that we could use social media only for good. I think that there’s so many opportunities to increase employment and jobs and we have all the tools and resources to do it and we don’t use them in the best ways. We need to use social media for good, like finding all the ways that we could use technology, along with person to person interactions to increase opportunities for people of color. That’s my day to day; it’s brought me the greatest reward in my career so far.

Can you share with our readers how you have used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I hope I’m giving people opportunities. As you move forward, it’s reaching back and making sure that you pull people up. I take no greater joy than when I know somebody’s gotten a new job we’ve put them up for. Even just a meeting, just opening that door.

I take great pride in being able to speak to a showrunner or content creator and talk them through why they might want to look at their content a little bit differently or why they should meet somebody new. That’s a success, if you’re able to shift their way of thinking. I consider that success.

Lastly, if you could have a private breakfast with anyone in the world, who would that be and why?

It would certainly be with Michelle Obama. I studied government and I was really interested in politics and I interned on The Hill and I wav very invested in that particular life path and then went in a different direction. It would be an easy answer to say President Obama but I think it is more interesting to find out what her life was like, what it’s been like, and what it is like now. I’m just curious what that leap has been like for her from the White House to Hollywood too.

This was very meaningful Yvette, thank you so much!


  • Savio P. Clemente

    TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor

    Savio P. Clemente, TEDx speaker and Stage 3 cancer survivor, infuses transformative insights into every article. His journey battling cancer fuels a mission to empower survivors and industry leaders towards living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. As a Board-Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Savio guides readers to embrace self-discovery and rewrite narratives by loving their inner stranger, as outlined in his acclaimed TEDx talk: "7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger." Through his best-selling book and impactful work as a media journalist — covering inspirational stories of resilience and exploring wellness trends — Savio has collaborated with notable celebrities and TV personalities, bringing his insights to diverse audiences and touching countless lives. His philosophy, "to know thyself is to heal thyself," resonates in every piece.