Imani Ellis, BA’12

imani-ellis

We are thrilled to highlight one of five distinguished alumni who were inducted into the Vanderbilt Student Media Hall of Fame in 2023. The Hall of Fame honors alumni who have achieved outstanding personal or professional accomplishments or made distinguished and lasting contributions to their field or to society in general.

Imani Ellis majored in communications at Vanderbilt, and her involvement in student media demonstrated her early passion for creativity and culture. Ellis served as a fashion writer for The Vanderbilt Hustler and hosted “It’s Imani,” a show she produced at Vanderbilt Television.

During her first Vanderbilt Television meeting, Imani seized the opportunity to pitch her show idea, “It’s Imani,” for on-air consideration.

“They gave me the greenlight to host it,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it—I had my own TV show. My experience with Vanderbilt student media really showed me to always go for it. If I had never pitched my show idea, it would have stayed as an idea in my mind. Instead, I was able to become the architect of my own show and learned so much during the process.”

This experience informed some of her future career moves, empowering her to create, innovate, and take charge of her journey.

Today, Ellis is the CEO and founder of CultureCon and The Creative Collective, an organization dedicated to providing community and resources to more than 100,000 diverse creatives. The Creative Collective’s marquee event is CultureCon, a conference dedicated to creatives of color. Past speakers include Tracee Ellis Ross, Will Smith, Michael B. Jordan, Naomi Campbell, Billy Porter, Regina King, Lena Waithe, Spike Lee, John Legend, and more.

Prior to founding CultureCon, Ellis was vice president of communications at NBCUniversal, where she started as an NBC Page and went on to hold communications leadership positions for Bravo, E!, and Oxygen. Ellis was named a “Breakthrough Creative” by Ebony and a “Diversity Champion” by Adweek. She also has been recognized by Forbes as a “Visionary” and “One To Watch” by Black Enterprise.

Reflecting on her career so far, Ellis said she’s the proudest of the community she and her team have built at CultureCon.

“We’re connecting and providing resources for over 100,000 diverse creatives. The economic and community impact we’ve made is what inspires me to keep going,” Ellis said.

She continues to engage with Vanderbilt and is a source of inspiration and encouragement to students. Ellis hosted Vanderbilt students at NBC for informational meetings, served as a panelist speaker, and spoke at VSC’s Media Intensive workshop for students in 2022.

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