Time Warner Cable and a panel of celebrity judges have selected four winners to appear in the operator's upcoming talk show targeting African Americans.
The nation's No. 2 cable operator plans to launch a new talk show this fall that will air be accessible via TWC On Demand. The on-demand program will put a spotlight on African-Americans who are paving the way in entertainment, in sports, and in their communities.
Time Warner Cable said it plans to produce eight half-hour episodes of the as-yet untitled talk show. The installments will center on such themes as TV, film, technology/innovation, arts/culture, lifestyles, sports, music and community. The four winners will serve as hosts of the show, which will be accessible by the MSO's customers around the country via the on-demand platform. It has yet to announce a launch date.
The quartet was among hundreds of contestants who took part in the "Born to Shine" initiative, to which TV One lent the MSO a promotional hand, as well as participation in the development of the platform. Casting calls took place in Charlotte, New York, Dallas and Los Angeles, while others uploaded audition videos to the "Born to Shine" Facebook page. The contestants auditioned at the casting calls in front of celebrity judges including actress, producer and singer Tatyana Ali, American Idol winner Ruben Studdard, hip hop artist Q-Tip, Grammy-nominated jazz artist Lalah Hathaway, BET's 106 and Park host Rocsi, and rap-duo Kid ‘n Play.
The winners: Kornelius Bascombe of Raleigh, N.C., Carmela King of Dallas, T.X. Isis McKenzie of Los Angeles, C.A. and Ashlei Stevens of Brooklyn, N.Y.
"Time Warner Cable launched ‘Born to Shine' to empower individuals by giving them an opportunity to demonstrate why they should be in the spotlight, while highlighting trailblazing African Americans in entertainment, sports, music, and the community," said Marisol Martínez, Senior Director of Target Marketing for Time Warner Cable, in a statement. "We're excited to provide Kornelius, Carmela, Isis and Ashlei with the chance to pursue their personal passions while filling a void on television. Our winners are extremely talented. We just may have found the next Oprah!"
"TV One is especially excited to support Time Warner Cable, in its efforts to help diversify television programming, by developing a talk show that truly illuminates the impact African Americans continue to make in the entertainment industry," noted Michelle Rice, executive vice president of affiliate sales and marketing, TV One. "This type of content resonates well with the African-American community and will certainly entertain and encourage viewers."
Find bios, supplied by the MSO, of the winners below:
Kornelius Bascombe, 22, Raleigh - Kornelius knew at an early age that the world was his stage. He launched the highest-rated television talk show on NC State's campus where he is entering his senior year. Kornelius is passionate about community service and enjoys mentoring youth through his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha. He recently participated in Oprah Winfrey Network's "Your OWN Show" competition where he placed fourth, garnering 5.9 million online votes nationwide.
Carmela King, 27, Dallas - Carmela earned her B.A. in Spanish from Tarleton State University in Texas. As a Spanish teacher, she enjoys educating and nurturing her students. Carmela has a strong passion for the performing arts, loves to travel and has a knack for languages and learning about other cultures. When she is not in the classroom, Carmela is recording music, both in English and in Spanish.
Isis McKenzie, 33, Los Angeles - As the oldest of three children, Isis was a "free spirited child," outgoing and always looking for exciting new experiences. A native of Los Angeles, Isis realized her passion for the industry after she was crowned Ms. Black California USA in 2005 and launched her own production company. She received a B.A. in Speech Communication from California State University, Northridge, and a master's degree in Organizational Leadership from Woodbury University.
Ashlei Stevens, 28, Brooklyn - Ashlei was born and raised in Columbia, S.C., and discovered her passion for public speaking at a young age. She earned degrees in Mass Communication and Modern Languages from Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C. She resigned from her state government job and moved to New York City in 2009 to pursue her dream of becoming a talk show host. Since spring 2010, Ashlei has served as host and producer of DPVN Entertainment, an online entertainment show where she goes behind the scenes at major events to interview musicians, actors, visual artists and filmmakers. She currently works for an education non-profit organization.