James L. Anderson has always been passionate about the arts and combined with his love for media and entertainment, this zeal has guided his incredible career trajectory.
His first role post-college was as a production assistant with the Carsey-Werner Company, working on two landmark sitcoms of the ‘80s and early ‘90s – “The Cosby Show” and its spinoff, “A Different World.” The producer entrusted James to handle press on the set and his successful execution of this duty led to his next role as a public relations coordinator.
It was the beginning of a star-studded executive communications career and a 20-year tenure with Carsey-Werner before he went to work at Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. for 14 years.
James is currently the senior vice president of enterprise inclusion, marketing and communications for WarnerMedia, a leading media and entertainment company comprised of HBO, Turner and Warner Bros. Prior to this, he served as senior vice president of communications for Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Boomerang, and TCM (Turner Classic Movies).
In addition to being a PRSA Georgia member, James serves on the boards of his alma mater, Denison University, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association Foundation (SIFMA), the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC) and Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre.
This installment of Chapter Chat, a member-focused profile series offering industry insights intertwined with candid commentary, shines a spotlight on the man who has supervised media campaigns for more than 50 TV series from “That ‘70s Show” to “The Boondocks.”
Let’s get to know James L. Anderson in his own words.
Question: What can you tell our readers about your job at WarnerMedia?
Answer: I am responsible for working across WarnerMedia’s portfolio of businesses, including corporate social responsibility and external affairs, to develop and align our marketing and communications strategies as it relates to diversity and inclusion.
Q: Have you ever met Ted Turner?
A: I have. It was in my previous role at Cartoon Network when we were celebrating the network’s 20th anniversary. Mr. Turner (though he immediately told me to call him Ted) had agreed to tape a surprise congratulatory message to the staff. Seeing his pride and genuine joy for Cartoon Network and the people working there and hearing his stories about the genesis of the network was a wonderful experience.
Q: In a movie about your life, what actor would portray you and why?
A: My life isn’t exciting enough to be a movie. However, I am a big fan of Andre Holland, Anthony Mackie and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and wouldn’t mind any of those actors making me look good on the screen.
Q: Where do you find creativity and inspiration?
A: It usually comes from something related to the arts, reading a great book, a story in the news or some of the amazing things that are being done on the different social media platforms.
Q: What is the professional accomplishment you’re most proud of?
A: Watching those that I have mentored exceed and then become my mentors.
Q: How has COVID-19 tested your crisis communications acumen?
A: It has certainly revitalized the mindset of figuring out how to make something happen no matter what obstacle stands in your way.
Q: What are your passions outside of work?
A: The arts and working with or supporting organizations whose mission it is to serve the underrepresented.
Q: What is the best book you’ve ever read and why would you recommend it?
A: Anything from James Baldwin. He’s just as relevant today as he was 50 years ago.
Q: Knowing that diversity and inclusion fall under your leadership at WarnerMedia, why is it important for PR leaders to speak up during our recent times of civil unrest?
A: Whether you’re speaking personally or professionally, it is important to speak from a place of empathy, knowledge and authenticity. All injustices should have many voices speaking up and PR leaders can play an important role in helping to identify that which is wrong, especially when it comes to advising others.
Q: What are your hopes for PRSA Georgia looking forward?
A: Besides everyone returning safe and strong, my hope is that PRSA Georgia will continue to be known for having a group of communication professionals who are always in front of the story. I hope we take a page out of today’s news and not only acknowledge but act on making sure we have a diverse organization of leaders and play a key role in demonstrating the importance of equity and inclusion.