Jemele Hill has had a very interesting 2018. She left as the co-host of the 6 p.m. ET SportsCenter and moved to The Undefeated to write about race and gender in and beyond sports. And she may have more career transitions ahead. Hill appeared at OZY Fest (the titular publication-sponsored gathering of politicians, musicians, writers and more, not to be confused with Ozzfest) in New York this past weekend, and discussed her work at ESPN and a potential future outside the company, leading to a piece by Peter Bukowski on Ozy’s website titled “Jemele Hill plans to leave ESPN, won’t kiss political ass.” However, Hill’s still under contract to ESPN for two more years (despite what Fox and Friends might have you think), and she said on Twitter Monday that she isn’t planning to leave just yet:
Headline might be a little sexier than what I actually said. Plotting the next 10-to-15 years of my career is kind of the way you have to think in this business. There are other things I want to do besides sports, but plenty I still want to do/will do at ESPN https://t.co/jrQU0QjVLa
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) July 23, 2018
And the actual quotes in the Ozy piece support that, with Hill saying “I haven’t made a bad career decision yet, and I’ll know when the right opportunity comes my way because it’ll really have to be special to really leave the sweet spot I’m at now at ESPN.” However, the piece also does mention that she might leave ESPN before then for the right opportunity (but really, who wouldn’t leave for a perfect opportunity?). It also notes that she said she was “already in the mindset of wondering what was next” before the Twitter controversy she was involved in and the later suspension she received last fall, and that said suspension and the accompanying backlash to her ESPN work caused her to ponder other jobs earlier than she might have otherwise, saying it “made me think about it sooner and plot out what the next 10–15 years of my life would be.”
Hill has been at ESPN for 12 years, and it doesn’t seem she’s departing just yet, but she does appear to be exploring some other options. She started a production company with her college roommate last year, and told the OZY Fest crowd that she plans to work behind the camera to create content on race and gender, not only on sports, but in news. She said while she still loves sports, there are times when she “just didn’t give a shit because of everything else that was happening in this country.” And she said she wants to give a voice to the underrepresented:
Hill sees an opportunity to give voice to underserved people, particularly women of color. Because Black women have “always had to take the back seat to everything, the fight in our community is about dismantling institutional racism” and ”we still have to deal with sexual violence and misogyny.” The problem though is that these issues are “never on the agenda because institutionalized racism are items 1-10.” She aims to change that.
Hill’s entire appearance is here:
So for the moment, it seems clear that Hill is considering other paths, and looking at a future that could be outside of ESPN and perhaps outside of the whole sports field. But this isn’t necessarily a sign of her imminent exit.