BET Networks has named veteran Fox Searchlight production executive Zola Mashariki as EVP and head of original programming. Based in Los Angeles, she will oversee scripted and unscripted programming and development as well as casting for the cable network, reporting to BET Networks president of programming Stephen Hill.
Mashariki’s appointment completes the restructuring in BET’s top programming ranks following the September departure of president of original programming Loretha Jones. In December, BET promoted President of Music Programming & Specials Stephen Hill to President of Programming, overseeing both Original Programming and Music Programming & Specials. Hill, who remained based in New York, has extensive background in music shows and specials though a limited interaction with the Hollywood creative community. That is a void Mashariki is expected to fill. Like Jones, she will be based in Los Angeles.
Mashariki spent the last 15 years at Fox Searchlight, most recently serving as SVP of Production. During her tenure at the feature company, she worked on such movies as The Last King of Scotland and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Additionally, Mashariki, graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School, is the creator of the Black Film Initiative, shepherding the development of a new business plan for the African-American audience that resulted in the releases of such films as The Secret Life of Bees and Notorious.