“You may face many defeats, but you must not be defeated.” This quote from Maya Angelou has inspired The Undefeated, an ESPN media platform that has helped shape the national conversation by exploring the intersection of race, sport, and culture from a Black perspective since its inception in 2016.
On Monday, ESPN said it would rebrand and expand the operation, now known as … Andscape.
“Time to talk about black and everythingAndscape’s editor-in-chief Raina Kelley said in a phone call. “It is far beyond just sports and athletes.”
He continued: “How can you be an individual as a Black in America, where some are connected by melanin, but not all, with your own unique interests? And how do you feel whole? We wanted to create a space where Blacks could be Black: Black led, Black POV, absolutely. But also where there are no definitions and no rules about what it means to be Black, what you should talk about.”
When it started, Invincible was a site within the larger ESPN.com. Andscape will expand into book publishing, live experiences, music, television and film as part of a content engine for ESPN and its corporate parent company, The Walt Disney Company. For example, next Monday, Mo McRae’s first Andscape short film “Starkeisha” will be released on Disney-owned Hulu. Andscape describes the film as “the journey of a young Black woman thrown into a fantastical world of Blackness.”
But that expansion required a name change because ESPN and Disney don’t fully own The Undefeated trademark outside of news and commentary. For example, there is an Undefeated apparel and sneaker company with no affiliation.
“We couldn’t be everything we wanted to be,” said Ms. Kelley. “Now that we’ve grown up at The Walt Disney Company, we needed a completely unblocked name.”
ESPN’s dedication to The Undefeated has been the subject of media intrigue since his departure. Kevin Meridawho He directed the department from 2015 until last year, when he left to become the managing editor of the Los Angeles Times. Some wondered if The Undefeated would follow the footsteps of Grantland, a former ESPN boutique news site. closed in 2015. Like Grantland, The Undefeated John CaptainResigning as chairman of ESPN in 2017.
The company said Andscape reflects “double up” on ESPN’s investment and commitment to Black stories and voices. “We have initiated a dialogue with The Undefeated that will be expanded and continued to include more topics, more perspectives and more ways to engage through Andscape,” ESPN president James Pitaro said in an email.
Kelley, who helped promote her as The Undefeated’s executive editor, declined to say how much money ESPN has invested in the expansion. “I am happy and I spend,” she said. “That’s all I have to say.”
Andscape will continue to take root in the sport, although Ms Kelley said its staff of 50 will provide broader coverage on current affairs, music, food, fashion, technology, personal finance, parenting and travel. The content will be geared primarily towards millennials and Generation Z consumers, she said.
For example, Andscape’s YouTube channel will debut a weekly show on Friday called “Logged In,” which will examine Blacks’ creative contributions to the social media landscape. It will be hosted by ESPN expert and writer Domonique Foxworth, a National Football League player. Another weekly YouTube series, “Another Act,” will be hosted by Andscape reporter Kelley L. Carter and will focus on Black Hollywood.
Ms. Kelley noted that black women make up the majority of her staff. Soraya Nadia McDonald, a leading Andscape journalist, Pulitzer Prize finalist in criticism In 2020, for his Invincible essays on film and theater, including “The Unbearable Whiteness of Oklahoma.”