Samuels is one of corporate America’s youngest and most accomplished senior executives. With more than a decade of executive experience, he has helped a roster of top global companies like Walmart, McDonald’s, AT&T, Chrysler, the NBA, and Johnson & Johnson build impactful brands with deeper connections to their consumers.
Samuels was present at the 2023 Essence Festival of Culture and spoke with rolling out about his long history coming to the event, Black culture, and the future of Black media.
What are some of the changes you’ve seen since coming to Essence?
One of the biggest changes that I’ve seen is Caroline Wanga is now the CEO of not just Essence but Essence Ventures, so being able to see the properties that Essence Ventures owns and watching them come to the table is cool, especially when you’re talking about everything from Afro-punk to BeautyCon. I think being able to show the true power of their platform on this stage is different and unique. I also think the Essence Festival just over time has changed because of two things. One, you have the movie, Girls Trip, which was a pivotal moment in making this cultural phenomenon known globally, then when you think about post-COVID, you never know what’s going to come back and what’s not going to come back. It’s beautiful to see this festival come back so strong. This is going to be one of the top festivals in the country and the world.
As a CEO, what does seeing the process of Essence do to your creative thinking on ideas for REVOLT?
It helps me dream. You know, Caroline always says that we are friends and we are partners, but we’re competitive in a sense. It’s like Michael Jordan versus Larry Bird or Michael Jordan versus Magic Johnson, each one is trying to push the other to the next level, and you need that healthy competition. I love seeing what they’re doing here. I love seeing how they’re expanding. I love seeing what they are building and it is absolutely going to inspire us and the things that we plan on doing at REVOLT Summit. We’re going to push it to a whole new level. Each one of us is pushing each other to be great in the spirit of Black excellence, but at the same time being friends and partners along the journey.