This media queen does not need an introduction, but for the sake of formalities, allow us to introduce you to Shaun Robinson.

PHOTO: Create & Cultivate

As seen on the hottest red carpets in town and of course, known to grace television screens, Robinson is widely known for her Emmy-award winning hosting on NBC’s Access Hollywood for 16 seasons. She has interviewed the likes of Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Denzel Washington, Tom Cruise and Halle Berry, and was also the last person to interview the great Whitney Houston.

After years of being a voice of pop culture as well as one of the few black voices reporting live from red carpets, Robinson has new goals, new focuses and wants to continue to shine her light in media.

21Ninety got the chance to ask her some questions and find out what’s been going on in Shaun Robinson’s world:

21NINETY: You are truly a media maven and have proven to be an inspirational light for other women of color looking to break into the entertainment industry. But before the rise to national acclaim, you were Shaun from Detroit. How did you get where you are today and what sparked the pursuit?

SHAUN ROBINSON: I will always be "Shaun from the D!"

When I was growing up in Detroit, I would come home after school, do my homework and then watch my cartoons. At 6pm, Grandma would turn on the evening news and there was an African American news anchor named Beverly Payne. She was the only woman of color on TV that I saw, and I used to sit in front of the television just mesmerized by her. I never met Beverly Payne but she was my first career role model – the woman who set me on the path – years later – into journalism.

When I was a student at Spelman College, I was chosen to host a talk show on cable TV. We are not talking "cable" the way we know it today. This was "Wayne's World" cable! I majored in English at Spelman and got a minor in mass communications, taking some courses at Clark College (as it was known back then). The summer before I graduated, I interned at a local station in my hometown of Detroit and after I graduated, I got my first real job there at the station!

PHOTO: Access Online

21N: So after a 16-year run you left Access Hollywood, how come?

SR: Most of the time, people ask me, "Why did I stay so long?" Haha. I started at Access Hollywood in 1999 – before Facebook, Twitter, any social media. I was one of the only African American female faces on the red carpet back then. I had a goal to be on a "national" entertainment show despite people telling me that those jobs were too hard for black women to get.

I was there when it was one of the only entertainment shows around, and I enjoyed many years when the show was in its heyday. I had many great experiences while working there and I believe I brought an important voice to the show– one that brought more positive stories about African Americans in the entertainment business. Now, for me, that box has been checked and it is on to more adventures!

21N: Currently, you are transitioning from being in front of the camera to producing behind the scenes. What led to this change and how did you connect with Victoria Christopher Murray?

SR: Actually, I don't refer to it as a transition because I will always be in front of the camera hosting shows. Since I left my last show, I have hosted shows for Lifetime, TLC and BET and there is more to come! I am ADDING to my platform by producing content that means something special to me.

Shortly after I left Access, a friend of mine told me about the book, LUST, by Victoria Christopher Murray that was about to come out. I had been wanting to option some books for a while so, I went to Victoria, whom I knew through my friend Lolita Files, another wonderful author, and I asked Victoria if I could option the entire “7 Deadly Sins” series that she was writing. She was thrilled and we did a partnership right away.

PHOTO: Zimbio


21N: You are going to ultimately produce seven films for Lifetime! What are the key differences you have noticed between being an on-screen talent and being a producer?

SR: I really have to pinch myself sometimes! The very first project I am executive producing is seven movies with Lifetime and Bishop TD Jakes! I am really praising God for this one.

The key difference is that I'm making decisions about the project from start to finish. I'm choosing writers, reading outlines, first and second drafts of scripts, choosing directors and deciding which actresses will be right for the part. It's a lot of work but I am loving the process. It is the first time I have been in this position and many things are so new to me, but I'm working with a great team of people and I am very excited!

21N: When it comes to content you have done in the past, you have won awards for your work including awards for “BET Takes Hollywood” and “Missing in the Media.” Why is it important to you to bring subjects like these to mainstream media?

SR: Being a black woman in media, I know how decisions are made about how we are seen. And many times, those decisions are made by people who have never walked in our shoes. Just like when I first started at Access Hollywood, there were many times I stepped in to say, "We can't say that because that would be offensive," I feel now, I have even more of a responsibility to present our stories the way we actually live them and to bring content that is broad and entertaining.

21N: What are some other project ideas/topics you hope to bring to the public’s attention through your new career pathway?

SR: Ooooh, I have a lot in the works! I have two docs-series that I am working on – both vastly different from each other. I am negotiating the rights for another book that I'm excited about, and in talks with a major TV star about a project that would be super-fun (so, that means I can't say anything about it yet! Haha)

PHOTO: ShaunFoundationForGirls

21N: In addition to your career endeavors, you are very much a philanthropist and an advocate for empowering young girls/women. How did The S.H.A.U.N. Foundation for Girls get started?

SR: This is the project I am most passionate about! I had been wanting to start my own nonprofit for years and I finally was able to focus on it after I left my show. People kept telling me to focus on one thing/one area but, I wanted to do something BIG.

I decided to create an organization that would empower girls in many different areas.

The S.H.A.U.N. Foundation for Girls is a grant-making foundation, in the same manner as the United Way. But, we support small, grassroots nonprofits that empower girls and underserved women in five key areas: (S)TEM, (H)EALTH, (A)RTS, (U)NITY and (N)EIGHBORHOODS. If there is a nonprofit working in one of those areas, we would possibly be a resource for them.

21N: You also serve in an advisory/spokeswoman roles for several other organizations that bring awareness to topics you are passionate about. Aside from asking you where you find the time to do it all, why is philanthropy work just as important to you as being a voice in the media world?

SR: My parents always told me, "If God gives you a platform, use it to help others." And that is what I have always tried to do throughout my life. I served on the national board of Girls, Inc. and I currently serve on the Advisory Board of the United Nations Foundation's Girl Up organization. I was also just inducted into the women's philanthropy organization, Women Moving Millions – a group of philanthropic women who have pledged to give one million dollars each to charity. Why do I do it? Because I believe we were put here to help others.

View this post on Instagram

Mommy and Me at her 80th birthday celebration! 🌹

A post shared by Shaun Robinson (@msshaunrobinson) on

21N: In all the good that you do, what is your greatest hope for those you impact?

SR: My greatest hope would be that I help level the playing field for our girls. Our girls don't benefit from privilege and so it is up to us to help them thrive. And I would also hope that they turn around and help those less fortunate. There is always someone who could benefit from your kindness and generosity.

21N: We know you have some production projects in the works but what else are you looking to do in future? Maybe another book?

SR: Yes, ma'am! My first book, Exactly As I Am, came out in 2009 so it has been almost 10 years! I am long overdue. My first book was dedicated to teen girls and I love it when young ladies come up to me or write to me on social media and say that the book really helped them get through a tough time. I love motivating people to live courageously and so my next book will continue that theme.

PHOTO: YouTube

21N: We love to leave on a positive closing word or a piece of advice; what advice would you give to our readers regarding mastering your craft and not being afraid to changes paths even after you are established?

SR: I would say that the world does not benefit from you thinking small. Fear is keeping you stuck. I never want to live with the regret that I didn't try to go for my dreams. You are so much more qualified to pursue your real goals that you think you are.

First, of all, you have to make a strategic financial plan. Cut your expenses, save your money so that you have a reserve while you are building your new career. Make a plan, write down the steps you need take to get you to your goal. And work on it EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

21N: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Thank you for the support you have given me throughout the years. I really appreciate you coming along with me on this new chapter!

Ready. Set. Boss. Our daily email is pouring out inspiration with the latest #BlackGirlBossUp moments, tips on hair, beauty and lifestyle to get you on track to a better you! Sign up today.