Growing up in Marietta, Ga., Keesha Boyd watched A Different World - a late 1980s spin-off of The Cosby Show - with her mother on Thursday nights and imagined herself through the black cast of young men and women.
She connected with Kim, played by actress Charnele Brown, as a kindred soul.
"She was your type-A and studied a lot and was focused on being a premed student," Boyd said. "When you can see something, you can believe it's possible."
Last month, Boyd's vision for giving black viewers a black-centric TV service - about 2,000 hours of curated TV shows and movies with black casts, directors, and themes - launched on Comcast's Xfinity on-demand platform.
"There are times you want to watch general-market content, and then there are times that you want to browse or dig deeply into content that speaks to black identity," said Boyd, 39, the executive director for multicultural consumer services in a Comcast business unit that targets TV audiences. "So we are making it easier to access that content."
Boyd never imagined herself as a cable executive. She attended Emory University and then earned two master's degrees at Columbia University, one in organizational psychology and the second in counseling psychology with a concentration in race and cultural identity.
In 2005, Comcast hired her in its human resources department in Chicago, which she considered her day job.
In the evenings, Boyd counseled black girls in crisis and their mothers in a group practice in the Chicago suburbs.
With her Comcast career on the upswing, Boyd focused on the cable company, and she relocated to the Philadelphia headquarters in 2007, still intellectually curious about media and race.
She also thought about creating a specific destination for black TV viewers.
And the vision was intuitive. Black TV viewers watch more TV than the overall audience. The 28-county Philadelphia TV market, according to Nielsen, ranked No. 2 in the nation in the average time that black TV viewers watched TV: seven hours and 14 minutes a day. The average of all ethnic groups in the Philadelphia market was five hours and 14 minutes a day. This includes live and time-shifted TV, and TV watched on devices such as Roku and Apple TV.
Sitting on the 35th floor of the Comcast Center before a huge TV screen, Boyd recently was taking obvious pride in the newly created destination on Xfinity.
To show its advantages, she clicked on the TV remote to the new and most popular movie offerings on Xfinity. It listed 83 movies, of which there were four with black leading actors, Creed, Concussion, Secret in Their Eyes, and Straight Outta Compton.
Boyd navigated to the similar page on the new destination, called "Black Film & TV." Listed there were an additional 13 movies with lead black actors.
There are also links to linear TV channels BET, TV One, Centric, Own, Bounce, Starz in Black, and Encore Black, and "family and faith" content offerings. Boyd's team also has curated TV shows with leading black actors, Scandal, Power, and Rosewood, and TV shows with black casts, Empire, Black-ish, and Survivors Remorse.
Boyd - who spent her early childhood years on Long Island and likes dance - said her team is now working on a glossary of terms that will be instantly recognized by the X1 voice-controlled remote.
An Xfinity subscriber could say "films by black directors" or "independent black films" or "shows with black leading actors" and X1 will take them directly to those options without TV remote clicks.
"Ultimately," Boyd said, "what we are looking for with the category is for it to be searchable with the X1 voice remote."