- From politics to film production, there are several options for the former SC6 host as she begins a new chapter in her career.
Jemele Hill is done at ESPN. She announced the end of her 12-year run at the company Friday morning on Twitter, writing, “The time has come for me to begin a new chapter in my life.” But what might that look like?
Hill, 42, has been light on details since news of her reportedly amicable buyout from ESPN first came late last month, so we only have a few clues to work from.
Speaking at a festival this summer, Hill told the crowd her next career move could be “more about me being behind the camera, creating content, writing scripted and unscripted shows and movies than it will be in sports.” The fact that she has started a production company with ESPN culture writer Kelley L. Carter might be a first step in that direction, as could be her potential relocation to Los Angeles, according to James Miller. “There are avenues opening up for women of color to provide different perspectives that's something we really wanted to take a hard look at," she said in the Detroit Metro Times in August. ESPN's statement Friday morning from executive vice president Connor Schell also alluded to "Hill's desire to produce content outside of sports."
However, we could still see Hill on-air in some capacity going forward. In 2017 The Ringer’s Bryan Curtis reported that the National Association of Black Journalists’ 2018 Journalist of the Year “wondered whether she might have more elbow room at a cable news network — a destination where some of her friends think she may still end up one day.” There has also been talk of an explicitly political route for Hill to take, though she ruled out a run for office at OZY Fest because doing so would require her to “kiss a little too much ass. That’s not my strong suit.”
No matter where she ends up, Hill will probably have more freedom to express her views online. She was suspended last October for backing a boycott of Cowboys advertisers after team owner Jerry Jones told players they’d be benched for not standing during the national anthem. ESPN said the two-week suspension was the result of a second violation of its social media policy. Over the course of the fall, Hill’s employment and role at the company became a political discussion point as President Donald Trump accused her of having caused ESPN’s ratings to fall. In November, ESPN announced new social media guidelines. It included: “Communication with producers and editors must take place prior to commentary on any political or social issues.”
Hill came to ESPN in 2006 and served every role from online columnist to college football sideline reporter before co-piloting a recrafted 6 p.m. Sportscenter, SC6, alongside Michael Smith from February 2017 until January 2018. In the note confirming her departure, she thanked Smith, writing “I love you and you made me better in every possible way. I’m proud of everything we did.” She also thanked the rest of her colleagues, singling out current ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro, The Undefeated editor-in-chief Kevin Merida, Schell and senior vice president Rob King for “their support and guidance” after offering “a special thanks to former ESPN executive Keith Clinkscales for hiring me and former ESPN president John Skipper for his steadfast belief in me.”