Orlando Magic Hosted Third Annual Black Business Summit

Panelists included Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and Ayo the Producer

Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson speaks during the Black Business Summit along with Kendra Douglas

BY JOSH COHEN, OrlandoMagic.com

ORLANDO – Inspirational ideas often come from inspirational stories.

That, in many ways, was the theme of the Orlando Magic’s third annual Black Business Summit, where several prominent African-American entrepreneurs and corporative executives spoke to Central Florida community leaders about their respective personal and career journeys, their keys to success, and what keeps them hungry and motivated for further growth.

“Iron sharpens iron,” said Esu Ma’at, the Magic’s chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer. “I think they are getting a nice spiritual charge, if you will, (an) inspirational charge to continue to grow their businesses. But listen, there are strength in numbers and I think the messages that are coming through today are really strong and powerful.”

Rapper, actor, television producer and businessman Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, CEO and Founder of full-service entertainment company R.A.Y.D.A.R Management LLC Ray Daniels, Grammy-award winning music producer Austin “Ayo the Producer” Owens, VMD Ventures CEO Harold Mills, and Bailey’s Pharmacy CEO Trisha Bailey were among the panelists who discussed their quintessential moments that shaped the trajectories of their respective careers.

One of the more powerful and moving stories during the summit at Kia Center, which was sponsored by Sire Spirits, came from Daniels when he spoke about the challenges he faced growing up and how he overcame so many obstacles to become one of the most accomplished executives in today’s music business.

The biggest thing for him was believing in himself, even when those around him questioned whether his goals and aspirations were attainable.

“Everybody in here has the same insecurities, everybody in here – whether you are more educated than me or not – (has) the same fears. We all have the same dreams. We all want to just be somebody and make (it) in the world,” he said. “When I realized a degree or a person couldn’t stop me, I became everything I wanted to become.”

Owens, who hails from Orlando and won a Grammy in 2019 for his work on Cardi B’s “Invasion of Privacy” album, mentioned that one of his proudest moments was when Full Sail University told him they wanted to build a curriculum around his personal story even though he was never a student at that school.

“For me, to know that this prestigious school (that is) in our backyard that I didn’t attend and always wanted to attend (but) I couldn’t afford it – for them to call on me and say, hey we are going to learn from you, I think that was probably bigger than that first Grammy,” he said.

A second Q&A session, featuring Hilton Grand Vacations VP of People, Inclusion and Culture Andrea Agnew; AdventHealth VP/Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer Jessica Brazier; PepsiCo Vice President GM, Sunbelt Quinitta Shumpert; and L3Harris Technologies VP of Talent, Equity and Inclusion Carmen Robertson, shared insights, strategies and real-world experiences on how organizations leverage the value of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). They talked about how DEI can serve as a catalyst for success, contributing to the growth and vitality of their businesses.

In addition to learning about the panelists during the Q&A sessions, guests had the opportunity to network and collaborate with them for further insight and perspective.

Thursday’s summit was part of the Magic’s Black History Month celebration in February. Other Magic activities this month included an in-game celebration during the Magic’s game against the San Antonio Spurs on Feb. 8 and the team’s third annual “Celebrating Black History” Creative Art Contest.

The Magic celebrate diversity and embrace its many characteristics and the value it brings to both business and community – understanding what can be accomplished when everyone works together to achieve legendary moments. The Magic are committed to creating an environment in which employees, community partners and fans feel welcome, valued and appreciated.

“We know sports has the ability to bring people together, almost like nothing else in society,” Ma’at said. “So, we recognize that we have that ability. It only makes sense for us to leverage that on behalf of the community, which is in part what we are doing today.”