After a career spanning three decades at BET, Debra Lee is stepping down from her position as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer effective Monday, May 28. Lee, who began her career with the company as its first VP and General Counsel in 1986, was elevated to President and COO in 1996 and became Chairman and CEO in 2005.
“I could not be prouder of the enormous amount of talent and creativity at BET Networks today and I will always be BET’s number one fan, rooting for each and every one of you as you continue to break barriers and share your authenticity with the world,” Lee said in a statement. “I leave with pride, gratitude, and joy for a life-changing professional and personal journey. Continue to do it “for the culture” and much success to you all. You deserve it.”
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Some of BET’s biggest successes with Lee at the helm include the acquisition of The Game whose 2014 premiere was the most-watched sitcom premiere in cable TV history with 7.68 million viewers and the 2017 mini-series The New Edition Story which brought in 28.4 million viewers during its initial run last January, becoming the highest-rated TV biopic of all-time.
Under Lee’s leadership, BET launched BET.com, Being Mary Jane, The Real Husbands of Hollywood, “The BET Awards” and more.