*You may have caught glimpses of Fox Soul programs broadcast on weekends through your local Fox affiliate and wondered, “What am I watching? Is there more where this came from? And how exactly is all of this melanin and culture coming from the same people also responsible for Fox News?
“I have to remind people that first, Fox was a part of the fabric of the Black community years ago with ‘Living Single,’ ‘Martin’ and all of those,” said Fox Soul’s head of programming, James DuBose. The 51-year-old North Carolina native is well aware of the scent wafting over from the cable news wing of the house, but insists that like other businesses under the company roof such as Fox Sports and Fox Entertainment, “Fox Soul just happens to now be another business that the corporation owns.”
“We have the opportunity now to speak our voice, and everyone else has the opportunity to speak theirs.”
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DuBose spoke to EURweb’s Lee Bailey for the latest episode of our conversations podcast “For the Record.” The Greensboro-bred alum of Wake Forest University is the secret sauce behind a bevy of Black entertainment and reality programming that you might know, including the syndicated “Dish Nation,” E! Networks’ “WAGS Atlanta,” and his own DuBose Entertainment fare, including “Kevin Hart’s One Mic Stand,” “Monica’s Still Standing,” “Tiny and Toya,” “Toya: A Family Affair,” “Trey Songz: My Moment,” “The Michael Vick Project” and his first foray into the reality hustle, “Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is.”
‘I’m forever indebted to Keyshia Cole,” DuBose told us. “She had a lot of people that she could’ve went to to get her show out there. But once we met, and it was my first show out the gate, she gave me the opportunity because I think she understood what my purpose was. I never wanted to sensationalize anything that people are going through.”
“Everyone has conflict in their family, everyone has conflict in their personal lives, but we try to hide that,” DuBose continued. “I felt that from a reality standpoint, if you told the reason behind it and give it purpose, and you’re not just fighting for the sake of fighting and ratings, but you’re fighting to try and find a resolution and heal yourself and heal your family, people will gravitate toward that.”
Fox Soul, DuBose said, was a natural next move after reality television. He was contacted in March 2019 by the head of programming and development at Fox Television Stations to consult on the Black programming they had chosen for their first OTT (or “over-the-top”) platform. OTT media are offered directly to viewers via the Internet, bypassing cable, broadcast, and satellite platforms.
“What I didn’t want to do, coming from the Fox brand, was to be just the Black face in front of this thing, and then the people that are not from the culture pulling the trigger behind it,” said DuBose. “They promised me that wasn’t going to happen. I didn’t want no part of that, and I have to tell you they’ve been 100 percent true to their word.”
On January 13, 2020, after several focus groups on what to call the channel, Fox Soul became the first online streaming service launched by Fox Corporation; locked and loaded with original and syndicated programming targeting the culture. Today, you can find interview, kiki and tea driven shows hosted by such talent as Tami Roman, Claudia Jordan, Tammi Mac, Angela Yee and Ricky Smiley.
“We are unapologetically Black, but consumed by all, that’s our mission,” said DuBose. “And the beauty of being who we are, the talent loves that they get to speak their voice and speak their mind. We do it in a way that’s genuine and organic to us and our culture.”
In the latest episode of For The Record, DuBose talks about growing up in Greensboro, transitioning from sports to broadcast television, the launch of Fox Soul, where one can find it, who’s on it, his vision for the streaming platform (including outright ownership someday) and much more.