Kenya Hardaway on FX Unlocked and TV's Embrace of Diverse Storytellers
Kenya Hardaway is svp of integrated promotions, multi-platform marketing, for FX Networks, overseeing consumer promotions, experiential marketing and events for FX, FXX and FXM.
She joined FX in 2006 and is currently responsible for driving consumer engagements across multiple platforms via activations, stunts, promotional partnerships, events, contests and sweepstakes. She works to combine cutting-edge technology and immersive environments to produce large-scale, multi-day events and custom engagements that drive viewership.
Prior to FX, Hardaway spent eight years marketing children’s television and licensed products, most recently as marketing manager on the Strawberry Shortcake brand at DIC Entertainment. She began her career at The Jim Henson Company, working on their preschool brands.
We spoke with Kenya for our Backstory interview series, where we chat with folks in the entertainment industry about their creative inspirations and more.
Kenya, tell us ...
Your first job in the industry.
My first job was as an assistant for the vp of marketing at The Jim Henson Company. I landed that job based on a recommendation from my intern supervisor at New Line Cinema.
A breakthrough moment in your career.
I think the breakthrough for me came several years ago when I started doing large-scale immersive events. American Horror Story has allowed me to play in that space and really create some memorable experiences that have garnered a lot of attention. The first of many was created for AHS: Asylum, where we hosted sweepstakes winners for a fully immersive nighttime engagement at an abandoned asylum in upstate New York. That project created a lot of buzz in the industry. It was an award-winning campaign and things changed for me after that.
Three movies you couldn't do without.
Tough question because I have so many favorites! If I had to pick three, I would go with: Training Day, Aliens and The Breakfast Club. Denzel Washington is so damn good in the role of Alonzo. I think it's his best performance, hands down. Aliens has a badass female lead, a kickass female Colonial Marine and visual effects by Stan Winston! What more could you want? And lastly, I love John Hughes films, and The Breakfast Club is a classic that I never tire of.
Your favorite movie quote.
"Give 'em hell, 54th!" from Glory. They were such powerful words in that moment. It's a great scene.
Your favorite movie trailer or poster.
The movie poster for Jaws. It showcases simplicity at its best.
A classic TV show and a recent TV show that you loved.
Classic: The Twilight Zone
Recent: Game of Thrones
A recent project you're proud of.
My team and I just wrapped up a multi-day digital experience, FX Unlocked, for this year's Comic-Con@Home featuring exclusive content, branded games and virtual activations inspired by our originals. The site wasn't part of our original plan, but life handed us lemons and we decided to make the best lemonade we could! We pivoted from our planned live event to a digital engagement in record time. Working from home has its challenges, but I'm extremely proud of the creativity and innovation that led to FX Unlocked.
Someone else's project that you admired recently.
I really enjoyed the "Gathering the Pieces" campaign for HBO's I May Destroy You. It's such a wonderful show, and that campaign was a great companion to the series.
One thing about how entertainment marketing is evolving that you're excited about.
I'm excited about how entertainment marketing is evolving to meet the moment and support diverse stories, creators and talent. As a marketer, I strive to reach underrepresented audiences with authentic, targeted campaigns and I look forward to supporting these new storytellers.
What would you be doing if you weren't in entertainment marketing.
If I had to make a living doing something else, then I'd be a photographer, and I'd probably focus on architectural design and interiors.