Nekesa Mumbi Moody Makes History as Hollywood Reporter’s New Chief

Nekesa Mumbi Moody. (Credit: Shutterstock)

The Hollywood Reporter has named veteran journalist Nekesa Mumbi Moody as its new editorial director.

The hiring is historic with Moody becoming the first Black woman to hold the top editor role at the Hollywood trade.

Moody joins THR from the Associated Press where she served as Global Entertainment and Lifestyles Editor. She will relocate from New York to Los Angeles to begin her new role at THR on June 15.

The move comes less than a month after Matthew Belloni abruptly exited as editorial director after disputes over coverage with his bosses at Valence Media, THR’s parent company. Insiders said Belloni was reluctant to skew reporting in favor of the company’s other operations, including MRC, which produces TV series and movies such as Netflix’s Ozark and the critically acclaimed Knives Out.

According to the Daily Beast, Valence execs also warned Belloni about coverage of Jennifer Lopez, attempted to kill a profile on Louise Linton, wife of U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and complained of THR’s “negative coverage of the industry.”

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Moody takes the reins of The Hollywood Reporter at a precarious time for the publication, as well as the industry at large due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On the heels of Belloni’s shocking departure, THR laid off about a dozen journalists, including longtime publisher Lynne Segall, and veteran film critic Todd McCarthy, who penned a scathing column about the cuts at THR, which he described as a “bloodbath.”

Valence Media, which is run by co-CEOs Modi Wiczyk and Asif Satchu, has cut about 30 percent of its staff across all of its publications, including Billboard and Vibe. Valence also put a hiring freeze in place and made salary cuts to any staffer making more than $100,000 per year, sources say. Additionally, Wiczyk and Satchu will not be taking salaries as the company looks to balance a budget sheet that was reportedly losing around $15 million annually.

Given the reasons behind Belloni’s exit, Moody faces a difficult task leading THR. However, she’s a respected journalist with strong ties in the music industry. While she was at AP, Moody interviewed everyone from Barbra Streisand to Luciano Pavarotti, Beyoncé, Prince, Taylor Swift and Kanye West. She was the first to report the news of Whitney Houston’s death, and the first person to get official confirmation of the passing of Prince.

In a press release from THR, Moody said: “The Hollywood Reporter has consistently produced some of the most important, informative and revealing stories about the entertainment industry. I’m thrilled to join and look forward to building on the incredible work of its journalists as Hollywood finds itself facing new challenges amid historic change.”
“Nekesa is an incredibly smart, well-respected journalist and seasoned leader who can confidently shape the next chapter of this venerable brand and we are proud to welcome her to The Hollywood Reporter,” added Deanna Brown, president of Billboard-The Hollywood Reporter Media Group.
As the first ever African American to hold the top slot at THR, Moody joins an esteemed list of past editorial directors that includes Belloni (2017-2020), Janice Min
(2010–2017), Elizabeth Guider (2007–2010), Cynthia Littleton (2005–2007), Howard Burns (2001–2006), Anita Busch (1999–2001), and Alex Ben Block (1990–1999).