Endi Piper, Senior Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs for TV ONE, shares with Industry Rules some insight into her 21 year journey from Intern to some of the top music and television executives on the scene to her current roles that she performs in the fast paced entertainment world. She is constantly negotiating business deals and legal agreements for television programming/ production, digital media, marketing and creative services.
The Entertainment industry is competitive often those who are interested in breaking into the business must make sacrifices and be self-motivated, assertive, and willing to take on some jobs that may not be appealing. Behind the scenes of every entertainment organization are the decisions makers that are responsible for reviewing every logistical aspect of the day to day business operations to make projects as well as certain visions come to life. Also, to make sure that negotiations and contracts are on point.
MHC- How did you get started in your career as an Entertainment Lawyer?
EP- I always knew I wanted a career in entertainment so I constantly looked for opportunities to get me closer to my goals. I essentially interned at so many organizations such as BET, Washington Wizards, Motown Legal, and Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison Law Firm in New York City. I also received my degrees from the University of Virginia, and the University Of Virginia School Of Law. Also, I passed my Bar Certification in New York City and New Jersey.
MHC-How many years have you worked in the field?
EP-I have worked in the entertainment field for about 21 years. I Hustled! I always tried to stand out. As an Intern, I always made sure that I did my best on everything. I also served as a Director of Business Affairs at the Scripps network, in a Legal Affairs position at Radio One, and as production counsel at BET.
MHC-Who influenced you the most?
EP-My parents they have always been hard workers and inspirational to me growing up. My Father is a relationship type person and an extreme hard worker. My Mother is detailed. I have both of those qualities that have been beneficial. I also have had different mentors who have been there for me throughout my career.
MHC- What do you recommend to women entering the business/legal arena of entertainment?
EP- Professionalism! Separate business and personal relationships at all times, can’t mix business and pleasure especially when you’re first starting out your career. Also learn how to negotiate deals with a smile on your face and not take everything so serious.
MHC-What are some other interesting activities that you do or causes that you support?
EP-I am an Elected Board Member for the Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyer Association (BESLA). The organization is to advance the excellence of professionals in the entertainment, sports and related industries. http://www.besla.org/
Also, I am a volunteer for the South Africa for the International Senior Lawyers Project (ISLP). I have visited South Africa and Nambiba to teach Lawyers on corporate/commercial law. http://islp.org/
I am also a court appointed special advocate for foster care children and/severely abused foster kids in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan area.
MHC: What is something that you truly will stress to folks starting out in the entertainment industry?
EP- You have to stay on the grind and be willing to ask clients, supervisors, etc. “What do you need” and What can I do to help you” Also, at times you if there are no current job vacancies or openings you may have to intern and work without pay. This has been a key catalyst to my career. Even when I graduated from Law School without a job I always was looking for the next opportunity that will help advance my career.
MHC Overview- Endi Piper has a charismatic personality. She has a great smile as well as amazing intellect. This incredible attorney achieved so much at a young age. From passing 2 State bar exams in less than a week to working with some of the top TV networks in one of the most competitive industries in the world. She is involved in so many causes and has an extremely busy schedule that it was great to have the opportunity to learn more about her journey and success as Senior Vice President for legal Affairs at TV One.