Thandisizwe Mgudlwa – Cape Town, SA
Byron Allen has become an authoritative voice in the media industry. This astute African American businessman, has come a long way as a comedian to becoming a television producer, philanthropist, and the head of the U.S. entertainment company Entertainment Studios.
Allen already owns the Weather Channel, The Grio, HBCU CO and several other networks. And now he has just purchased the BNC the Black News Channel.
Notable shows Allen hosted or co-hosted include: Real People, The Byron Allen Show, Entertainers with Byron Allen, Comics Unleashed and Kickin’ It with Byron Allen. He is also the creator and executive producer of Funny You Should Ask, which he appeared on frequently.
Thanks to comedian Jimmie Walker who saw Allen’s stand-up act and invited the 14-year-old comedian to join his comedy writing team alongside promising young comedians Jay Leno and David Letterman.
And at age 18, Allen made his television debut on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, becoming the youngest stand-up comedian on the show. One of his earliest roles was as a regular television presenter on the NBC series Real People, joining the cast at the beginning of the second season.
His show JAMMIN’ was picked up as “KICKIN’ IT WITH BYRON ALLEN” in 1992, which ran for more than 21 seasons. Allen’s foray into television production began in Los Angeles in 1993, when he founded Entertainment Studios with the launch of his first series Entertainers with Byron Allen. It was a weekly, one-hour interview series profiling current stars of film and television.
And in 2018, Entertainment Studios acquired The Weather Channel from NBC Universal, Bain Capital and Blackstone Inc.
In 2019, he partnered with Sinclair Broadcast Group in Diamond Sports Group to acquire the regional Fox Sports Networks, which The Walt Disney Company agreed to sell as a condition of its purchase of 21st Century Fox and Diamond Holding Group rebranded as Bally Sports.
In February 2022, Allen made a bid to buy the Denver Broncos. But he was ultimately outbid by S. Robson Walton. Earlier in 2018, Allen was selected for the Bloomberg 50 as one of “the people in business, entertainment, finance, politics, technology and science whose 2018 accomplishments were particularly noteworthy”.
In January 2019, Allen was a recipient of the National Association of Television Program Executive’s 16th Annual Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Awards, presented during the annual NATPE Miami Marketplace & Conference.
He was also selected for the 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs at the Goldman Sachs Builders & Innovators Summit 2018, and he was honored by The Salvation Army and the Los Angeles Metropolitan advisory board at the Salvation Army’s 11th annual Christmas Kettle luncheon. Allen received the 2019 Whitney Young Award at the 46th annual LosAngeles Urban League Awards dinner.
Allen was born in Detroit, but grew up in Los Angeles. His interest in show business began during his childhood when he accompanied his mother, Carolyn Folks, to NBC Studios in Burbank, where she worked as a publicist. At age 14, Allen put together his first stand-up routine, and began appearing on amateur night at comedy clubs throughout the Los Angeles area. Allen attended high school at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles andcollege at the University of Southern California.
Allen is on the Motion Picture & Television Fund Board of Governors.