Jemele Hill and Cari Champion both worked at ESPN. Now they have a new chance to band together.
The pair will host a new weekly talk show, “Disruptors with Jemele Hill and Cari Champion,” slated to debut this summer on Vice TV. Over an initial order of eight episodes, the show aims to unpack the biggest topics and headlines of the week from the worlds of culture, politics, sports and business. In an interview, Hill and Champion suggest they’ll be open to all kinds of guests – especially Rihanna.
Both know their show will be different from others in the format: “Two Black women are driving the narrative and the conversation,” says Champion.
Hill and Champion spent years at ESPN, where the former worked on “The Undefeated,” “SportsCenter” and “His & Hers” and the latter held anchoring duties on “SportsCenter,” “SportsNation” and “First Take.” Hill also gained a broader profile after she took on President Trump in a series of tweets in October of 2017 that put ESPN under wider scrutiny. They struck up a friendship after Hill wasn’t picked for a slot on “First Take” – and then was pleasantly surprised when the position she had tried to get went to Champion. “I was honestly pessimistic that a Black woman would get that job,” Hill recalls.
The two began to hang out frequently around Bristol, Conn., site of ESPN’s headquarters, and found they had a rapport that could form the basis for a project of their own – not that they weren’t busy on immediate work. “We never specifically talked about doing something together, but we were working on a show without knowing we were working on a show,” says Hill. They would trade remarks on social media and get good reactions. “People would talk about how they felt we had good chemistry, to see two Black women in the sports space sharing their commentary.”
The pair believes “Disruptors” debuts at an opportune moment, with the nation focused more intently on matters of race and how people from different backgrounds treat one another. Their background in sports won’t keep them from venturing into other areas, says Champion. “Sports is intertwined with politics,” she notes, adding that the current news cycle and political climate have “forced America to open its eyes.”
Vice TV hopes to build on such recent series as “Dark Side Of The Ring,” “Shelter in Place with Shane Smith,” “A Seat at the Table with Anand Giridharadas” and “No Mercy, No Malice with Professor Scott Galloway.” “We’ve been talking to Jemele and Cari since early this year about coming back to television together for their first series as a team. With their fearless ability to tackle serious issues and authentic, longtime relationship, we’re grateful and honored for them to be joining Vice TV,” says Morgan Hertzan, executive vice president and general manager, Vice Television. “We’re about courageous storytelling, and now more than ever, it’s critical we hear from brave voices like Cari and Jemele’s for their take on the most important stories of the day.”
Champion has worked as a sideline reporter on ABC’s “Battle of the Network Stars” reboot, and frequently appeared on Steve Harvey’s daytime show, “Steve.” She has also served as host and reporter for the Tennis Channel, “The Insider,” “Hollywood 411 and Starz Entertainment. Prior to joining ESPN.com as a national columnist, Hill was the only African-American female sports columnist in the country while at the Orlando Sentinel, and has also written about sports for the Detroit Free Press and the Raleigh News & Observer.
Champion is currently a field reporter on NBC’s “The Titan Games,” a reality competition series. Hill is the co-founder of Lodge Freeway Media, a contributing writer for The Atlantic and the host of a Spotify podcast, “Jemele Hill is Unbothered.”
Champion is represented by Sharon Chang of WME. Jemele Hill is represented by Evan Dick of Exit 39. Johnson Bridge Media’s Charita Johnson also helped bring Hill and Champion to Vice TV.