A riveting memoir by the former CEO of Black Entertainment Television (BET), about the glamorous and ugly moments of being a high-powered Black woman executive in the entertainment industry.
As an incredible glass-ceiling breaker and the woman who brought timeless television shows like The Game and Being Mary Jane to cable, Debra Lee has been the visionary responsible for elevating Black images and storytelling for decades. Now she’s telling her own story, in an intimate and eye-opening tale about the triumphant and tricky moments of a career in entertainment.
I Am Debra Lee is a page-turner, filled with deeply personal revelations, juicy celebrity intel, and electrifying behind-the-scenes stories that reveal how she went from a girl raised in the segregated South to leading the first Black company traded on the New York Stock Exchange and how she juggled social responsibility while managing a company targeted toward the Black community. In a rousing narrative, Lee writes: “I don’t just love Black culture—the magic in our hair, the swagger in our steps, the particular way we can say ‘alright now’ to fit our changing moods—Black culture saved me.” In her exciting debut, she answers all of our questions about building an unapologetically Black enterprise as a Black woman. What to do when you’re forced to attend a board meeting eight weeks after a C-section. How to manage a team of men when you’re the first female CEO at the company. How she learned the hard way to say no to those in power when their vision didn’t align with her purpose.
I Am Debra Lee tackles lessons that women CEOs rarely dare to. She addresses her personal struggles with motherhood and “having it all,” navigating reproductive choice, fertility, and #MeToo while achieving great professional success. Being Black and a woman in corporate life isn’t easy for anyone. But Lee shows how she evolved from a shy girl who dreaded public speaking to becoming a force to be reckoned with as she helped build the leading entertainment company for Black audiences and consumers of Black culture globally.
I Am Debra Lee is a must-read for all strivers in any industry. Lee is a truthteller about the critical choices that Black leaders face. As she has done her whole career, in this book, she opens the door for others to come after her, by sharing the truth behind her own inspiring story of power, perseverance, and success.