Since childhood, I can remember Byron Allen having some influence over Black culture and entertainment. From onscreen personality to behind the scenes media mogul, Allen must be one of the more underrated Black businessmen in America.
About two weeks ago, I happened to be up on the late night tip, around midnight, possibly 1 a.m. Flipping through channels I happened to see the words “paid programming” pop up as the description for a show that was currently on commercial break.
Before I could change the channel the show restarted and I saw that while it was paid programming, it was a show I recognized. A few years ago, there were two new shows I noticed only on late night weekend television. One show depicted a Black family living in the white house, the other told the story of an actor convicted of a crime and sentenced to teach in a local high school.
Each of these shows which I later identified to be “The First Family” and “Mr. Box Office” both featured well known Black actors and comedians. “Mr. Box Office” stars Bill Bellamy (How to Be a Player), Vivica A Fox( Kill Bill), Tim Meadows ( SNL) to name a few. “The First Family” features Marla Gibbs of “227” fame, John Witherspoon ( Friday), Kellita Smith ( the Bernie Mac Show) and Christopher B. Duncan ( The Jamie Foxx Show).
They are both positive, funny shows where the stars aren’t killing people, selling drugs, trying to make it in the entertainment industry or highlighting negativity and impossible lifestyles. The shows center on family and friendships, positive themes and values, such as great Black shows of the 90’s.
I was extremely bothered by the fact that in order to get these great, positive shows on television, the producer and creator, Byron Allen, has to pay to have them aired. Aired in the middle of the night, on a weekend, when most people aren’t watching television, what does that say about the state of good Black programming?
Is the only way to provide quality Black programming that is not meant to divide, push negative stereotypes and influence to finance it yourself and take any spot you can get? You would think with so many talented Black actors in each show they would be picked up for prime time. However, each of these shows have been around for 3 years or more and have not been picked up by a major network or streaming service.
Byron Allen has been the creative force behind some of your favorite shows. He has executive produced “Justice with Judge Mablean”, “Justice for All with Judge Christina Perez” “Comics Unleashed” “Supreme Justice with Judge Karen” “We the People with Gloria Allred” and many other shows. Allen is also a writer, director, and actor.
Byron Allen was born in Detroit in 1961. By the age of 14 he had put together his first stand-up comedy routine and after performing in L.A. was discovered by Jimmy “J.J.” Walker.
That was the start of a career in entertainment he has never looked back from. At just 18, he performed on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” From there the world got to really know Byron Allen through his show “Kickin’ It with Byron Allen” which focused on interviews with celebrities, movie reviews, and updates on the entertainment industry.
Over 30 years ago, he started his still functioning media company, Entertainment Studios, which was his first step into television production.
In 2009 Byron Allen launched six 24-hour HD television networks.
Allen’s company, Entertainment studios, sells, produces and distributes content for 32 different television shows. Byron Allen’s Net worth is estimated at $300 million. This Black History Month, we celebrate Byron Allen, who has worked so hard to provide quality Black television programming for three decades.