Lori Harvey and Romeo Miller are just two of the many young people who are successfully leveraging their influential public platforms to build businesses and show the next generation that the possibilities for success are truly endless.

The two young entrepreneurs joined AT&T Executive Vice President of Talent & Leadership Development Michelle Jordan, and Money Coach Christian Lovell for an enlightening conversation at the 2022 ESSENCE Festival of Culture about the long-lasting, invaluable impact of Black representation across industries. Opening up the discussion, Jordan spoke about some of the ways that AT&T is currently working to help economically empower underserved communities.

Lori Harvey: ‘I’ve Been On Sets Where I’ve Been Told My Team Couldn’t Come Because There’s Too Many Black People In The Room’
Photo by Cameron Johnson

“AT&T has a long-standing history of investing in the communities that we serve. One of the things that we’re focused on over the next 3 years is, we have put a stake in the ground to say that we’re making an investment in closing the digital divide,” she said. “We have put a stake in the ground to commit to making a $2 billion investment over the next 3 years. For starters, we’re doing things like, investing in connected community learning centers in partnership with nonprofit organizations. We believe that education and economic empowerment helps enable and open up a whole slew of opportunities for a community. So, the intent of those connected learning centers is to start with youth.”

Lori Harvey: ‘I’ve Been On Sets Where I’ve Been Told My Team Couldn’t Come Because There’s Too Many Black People In The Room’
2022 Essence Festival of Culture held in New Orleans, Louisiana – July 1 – 3, 2022

Responding to a question about how she plans to create opportunities as CEO of Lori Harvey Enterprises, Harvey spoke about an upcoming program she’s developing through her Skin by LH skincare line, which launched in October 2021.

“It’s really important for me to create a program for young women, especially women of color, to educate them on the importance of skincare and learning about their skin types and just, overall self-care and self-love,” she said. “So, that’s something that I’m currently working on right now.”

Later on, she also spoke candidly about her own experiences as a model that ultimately influenced her hiring practices as a business owner.

“I’ve been on so many sets where I’ve been the only Black girl, not only in the shoot, but in the room,” she said. “And so, it was important for me when I created my line that I hired all Black models of all shades so that we could be represented and be seen on a larger platform. I’ve even been on sets where they’ve told me that my team can’t come because there’s too many Black people in the room.”

Lori Harvey: ‘I’ve Been On Sets Where I’ve Been Told My Team Couldn’t Come Because There’s Too Many Black People In The Room’
2022 Essence Festival of Culture held in New Orleans, Louisiana – July 1 – 3, 2022

Weighing in, Romeo emphasized the importance of not only owning businesses, but using those businesses to create job opportunities in our communities. This, he says, is the real way we can close the wealth gap and impact economic change.

“I think the way that we close that racial wealth gap is that we have to continue to become business owners because, the numbers show that we hire each other,” he said. “That’s why it’s so important for me to make sure we’re diversifying; we don’t have to just be entertainers and athletes. Why not own grocery stores? Why not create your own products, your own brands? That’s what me and my pops [Master P] have been doing with the Rap Snacks and the grocery distribution deals. We have shoe companies, we have coconut water. So, I just think if we want to teach this next generation of kids about generational wealth, we have to expand.”

Lori Harvey: ‘I’ve Been On Sets Where I’ve Been Told My Team Couldn’t Come Because There’s Too Many Black People In The Room’
2022 Essence Festival of Culture held in New Orleans, Louisiana – July 1 – 3, 2022

The panel also discussed staying the course, allowing yourself to learn through challenges in business, and more. Check out the video above to hear the conversation in full. For more of everything you missed at the 2022 ESSENCE Festival of Culture, visit our official video content hub HERE.

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