BET President Debra Lee, Anika Noni Rose Respond to Criticism of ‘The Quad’ Among HBCU Presidents

The head of Black Entertainment Television and the star of its new drama series ‘The Quad’ have responded to criticisms from leaders in the HBCU community, most notably, Hampton University President William Harvey.

Ebony.com has published exclusive comments from BET President Debra Lee and Anika Noni Rose, reacting to a letter written by Harvey to Lee shortly after the series debut. Contents of the letter were released to HBCU presidents this week.

Lee and Rose, who both expressed understanding of the sensitivity attached to the show’s themes, expressed concern that ‘The Quad’ was prematurely judged and viewed within a context which holds black projects to a higher standard than other Hollywood works. From Essence.com:

“I talked to Dr. Harvey the other day and we had a good conversation. He started off by saying conversation is key, and I listened to him and he listened to me. I respect his opinion,” Lee said. “My point that I emphasized was that this was a fictional story. It’s not representing any particular college. Fictional TV has drama, you have good guys and bad guys. We had a good conversation and I hope students, administrators and parents will take the issues that we’re dealing with on The Quad seriously and discuss them during and after the show, because we are dealing with serious issues that happen on all campuses, not just HBCUs.”

“Our shows have to be more positive, more respectable, more high-end that anything else that is seen,” she told EBONY. “I understand what that’s from. It’s because we aren’t seen enough, so we don’t have enough sides of us [shown] to sometimes feel comfortable. But if we’re going to show humanity and human behavior, we cannot only show the glossy parts. We cannot only show the PhD, full family, living on a hill with a fence. We can’t only show that because that’s not all of reality, that’s not all of humanity, and it’s dishonest to show that one side.”

Rose continued: “It’s really important to be clear that we are showing human life. Women do run institutions, women do have sex, hazing does happen at schools — all schools, not just HBCUs — people do affairs, it happens. It’s unfortunate, but it happens.”

To the Quad’s critics who have a problem with the show, the actress has some simple advice: “If it’s not for you, turn the station.”

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