Leonard E. Burnett Jr., co-CEO and group publisher at Uptown Ventures, did what many innovators do: He spotted a void in the market and decided to fill it. Uptown, as a lifestyle brand, caters to the affluent, professional of color, often one who works to earn and enjoy the best out of life—one of many in the African American community with a buying power set to reach more than $1.1 trillion by 2015.
But what’s unique is that he’s been able to lead the expansion of publications into brands and help change the perception of urban communities of color in terms of socioeconomic and cultural influence. In a world where being black can be defined by a plethora of experiences, yet blanket stereotypes oftentimes prevail, Burnett seeks to continue showcasing a different side of the coin.
BlackEnterprise.com caught up with Burnett to talk career success, the global perception of urban culture and his advice for other young publishing bosses in the making.
Talk a bit about transforming the view of the urban market and community? Why is this important and what steps are you taking to continue to do that?
Back in the day, it was important because what was portrayed in the news was oftentimes a monolithic portrayal. So, that really drove our passion to show all facets of our communities. We’re not just one group… We’re diverse in ethnicities, ideologies, likes and dislikes. We’ve been able to work with various brands and companies to help shape the perception and the views for advertisers, to help them understand we’re diverse. We actually drive cultural trends and consumption of goods worldwide. People of color have a popular and valuable say when it comes to being trendsetters, and more often than not, there are more people who look like us around the world who are creators and innovators of culture and entertainment, which can drive buying and consumption.