Revolt CEO sees Atlanta as ‘hub for Black culture’

Credit: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Credit: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

The Sean Combs-founded multimedia company hosts its signature event Sept. 24-25.

After 18 months of heading Revolt as CEO, Detavio Samuels has his eyes on leading a cultural revolution. The multimedia company now has facilities in Atlanta, so the leader hopes to further his mission to build a playground for Black creators and fuel the next generation of disruptors to continue to push culture forward.

Credit: Daniel Bleckley danielbleckley.com

Credit: Daniel Bleckley danielbleckley.com

The Black-owned subscription-based cable network-turned-lifestyle brand founded by Sean “Diddy” Combs is returning to Atlanta for the third year to host its signature event, Revolt Summit x AT&T, on Sept. 24 and 25 at 787 Windsor. The now two-day festival themed “The Future is Now” is bringing together personalities such as Big Freedia, DJ Drama, Gucci Mane and Coi Leray to inspire and empower the next generation of creatives, entrepreneurs, curators and innovators to strive for excellence in music, business, tech, finance, fashion, activism, social justice, entertainment and media.

Credit: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

Credit: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

“For us at Revolt, Atlanta is home,” Samuels, 41, said. “It is the hub for us and for Black culture. I’m privileged and honored to lead an organization that is headed by a global icon and purpose-driven about changing the current reality of the Black diaspora.”

Revolt Summit x AT&T features a career fair, pitch competition, the Be Heard talent competition and mentorship sessions through AT&T Office Hours booths. Audiences can experience live tapings of Revolt properties “Assets and Liabilities,” “Big Facts,” “Drink Champs” and “Rap Radar.”

To better serve Revolt’s primary younger demographic, Samuels and his team made three key additions to this year’s activities. For the first time, thought leaders like community organizer Tamika D. Mallory, tech innovator Iddris Sandu, Wieden + Kennedy creative director John Petty III, and serial entrepreneur 19 Keys are delivering 10-to 15-minute keynote addresses similar to TEDx Talks that concentrate on the future of culture, commerce, community and connectivity.

“This generation can be short on attention span, and sitting for eight panels for eight hours doesn’t feel like the right way to program for them,” Samuels said. “If the future is now, you have to help people see the future.”

Both days will feature musical performances from breakout acts and established talent. Each panel and town hall meeting will include the audience in the discussions for a more interactive, personable experience. “We wanted to be able to bring the audience onto the stage to engage them in a different way,” Samuels adds.

In February, Revolt opened its new home base, RBN Studios, near Atlantic Station where the newsmagazine “Revolt Black News Weekly” and the Gen Z-savvy “Black Girl Stuff” are both filmed. The channel’s hip-hop and basketball-themed show “The Crew League” has relocated its production from Los Angeles to Atlanta and will feature appearances from local talents like Quavo and 21 Savage in the upcoming season.

Samuels judged the finale of Revolt’s pitch competition series “Bet on Black,” which was taped by the company’s Atlanta studio team at Georgia Public Broadcasting. Featuring judges like Slutty Vegan CEO Pinky Cole, No Limit Records founder Master P, rapper Remy Ma and Target executive Ron Edwards, the “Shark Tank”-like show is near and dear to Samuels because it builds morale and a peer group for Black entrepreneurs.

“The contestants are competing against each other, but on the other hand they’re supporting and lifting each other up,” Samuels said.

One of the channel’s latest successes, “Caresha Please,” is a brow-raising talk show hosted by one half of rap duo City Girls, Caresha “Yung Miami” Brownlee. Based on her hit Apple podcast, her unflinching candor with celebrity guests has made the series a trending topic and viral sensation.

“Caresha Please,” along with “Drink Champs” and “The Breakfast Club,” earned BET Hip Hop Awards nominations this year for best hip hop platform. Samuels says “Caresha Please” connects because it disrupts the status quo for Black women hosts.

“Our truth is not that we’re not capable; we were just never given the chance to because we didn’t talk the way they wanted us to talk, dress or look the way they wanted us to,” Samuels said.

“We are doing that with someone who the world would’ve never handed the microphone to, but she’s magic. We’re trying to find creators that can show up and be themselves unapologetically. It’s phenomenal to see how the world has taken to her.”

Credit: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Credit: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Revolt just signed off on a series hosted by rapper Fat Joe for Starz. The network is executive producing the show, originally streamed remotely on Instagram during the coronavirus pandemic. Bishop T.D. Jakes is also developing inspirational, faith-based programming for Revolt to premiere beginning in 2023.

“You never see the Black revolution move without the church,” Samuels adds. “We need those great faith-based players as a part of this ecosystem. Our people need hope, inspiration and joy.”

Samuels forecasts that RBN Studios and Revolt will produce 10 to 20 projects before the end of 2022. The goal-oriented strategist is looking to lead Revolt towards developing scripted programming, feature documentaries, e-commerce and sports to create more job opportunities for Black talent and change false narratives in the mainstream around Black culture.

“We’re not going to be the place where there’s one creator,” Samuels said. “We’re going to be the place where there are thousands of us. We wake up everyday feeling like we can change the world. If we want to shift the narrative for Black people globally, then we have to be able to tell those stories.”

IF YOU GO

Revolt Summit x AT&T

Sept. 24-25. $149 and $299. 787 Windsor, 787 Windsor St. SW, Atlanta. revoltsummit.com