Charmel Y. McMillan is president and CEO of Char-Town Entertainment, an entertainment and sports management company specializing in business strategy, public relations, marketing, and special events. McMillan recently released her first book, Just One Thing (foreword written by comedian-actor Mike Epps). The book is a nonfiction account of several defining moments in her life told from the standpoint of being at a crossroad and how just one thing unexpectedly changed everything.
McMillan is also the founder and executive director of a 501c3 corporation — CTE Vision Foundation Inc., which is dedicated to educating, mentoring, and creating platforms for exceptionally talented kids who want to pursue careers in entertainment.
As a Black woman, what do you consider your superpower to be?
Firstly, I am immensely proud of my familial and ancestral background as well as those amazing men and women who laid the path for me to even have the opportunity to be a business leader; however, I don’t define myself by color or gender professionally. As president and CEO of an entertainment company, I view myself as a dynamic and major force in business. For me, in this highly competitive industry, it’s about the bottom line, maintaining a reputation for being the best at what I do and making money. My primary superpower is my ability to get what I want.
Secondly, I am unique and you could call it a superpower because I am one of those rare women [who is] actually an accepted part of the “boys club.” And by “the boys club,” I mean that my influences are men, my best friends are high-profile, successful men, the people I bounce ideas off of and look to for advice and insight are extremely successful men. The people I spend my business and leisure time with are primarily men. I communicate best with men and it is a mutually comfortable rapport and exchange of ideas and perspectives that have made me more objective versus subjective — personally and in business. Ultimately, I believe it is integral and a life lesson for young women to realize emotions and business don’t mix.
What key skill sets or qualities make you unique as an African American female leader?
I don’t categorize or define myself by race or gender in business. That is limiting. My skills and uniqueness are in my vast educational background, extensive experience, and ability to maintain unmatched, long-standing relationships. I have a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering with a double minor in mathematics and business. I have dual master’s degrees in engineering and business management with a concentration in contract law. Thus, having an engineering background as well as multiple advanced degrees, yet being a successful entertainment executive for the last 20 years and mastering various aspects of the industry in entertainment and sports, business consulting, marketing, and brokering deals in the entertainment industry … is indeed unique.
Why is it important for seasoned and experienced Black women to reach back and help younger women of color?
The youth of color need to see the business leaders behind the scene because typically —especially in my industry — they only see the stars, the controversy, the people in the forefront. I think it is beneficial for young people to be educated and become knowledgeable about the inner workings of the business.
How do you feel about the hashtag #CollaborationOverCompetition?
Every successful thing is some form of collaboration. Nobody is an island. … The qualities or values I deem indispensable in my business partners and collaborators are teamwork, vision and execution as well as their own brand or specialization that has already been proven successful. Thus, any collaboration has to be truly mutually beneficial. Further, it should be clear what each party is bringing to the table that will contribute to taking things to the next level or expanding an existing business.