ESPN has hired award-winning news and media veteran Marsha Cooke as vice president & executive producer for ESPN Films. In her new role, she will oversee development, production, distribution, branding and strategy of all projects under the ESPN Films umbrella, including the 30 for 30 series. She will be based in New York, reporting to Brian Lockhart, senior vice president, ESPN Films and Original Content.
Said Cooke: “ESPN creates groundbreaking stories for both sports fans and non-sports fans. Quite simply, it’s essential viewing and I’m thrilled to be joining this esteemed organization.”
Cooke will be joining ESPN from VICE Media Group, where she is senior vice president of global news and special projects. In her role at VICE, Cooke developed and produced special news and entertainment projects across VMG digital and broadcast platforms, leading the youth media company in pushing the limits of broadcast news formats and playing a key role in integrating VICE’s forward-thinking values with its award-winning content.
Cooke was instrumental in leading VICE News’ first-ever live coverage of the 2020 Iowa Brown and Black Forum, the nation’s oldest and only non-partisan presidential forum dedicated exclusively to addressing issues facing communities of color. With unprecedented candidate attendance and a groundbreaking, engaging format, the program won a national news Emmy. Cooke also previously led IMPACT at VICE, where she directed social good and community engagement in order to build and strengthen VICE’s culture, partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives, with a focus on ensuring the company’s work would affect long standing change in local and global communities.
“Marsha’s extensive production experience, creative mind, and global perspective make her a tremendous asset to our team,” said Lockhart. “As we prepare for a dramatic expansion of our storytelling scope, her strategic thinking and leadership will help guide this ambitious next phase of the 30 for 30 brand. We are delighted to welcome her to ESPN.”
Prior to VICE, Cooke spent 24 years at CBS. She was the first Black Asia Bureau Chief, responsible for coverage across the continent, producing stories for various CBS News shows and she served as VP of news services, in charge of the Newspath newsgathering group serving 200 CBS affiliates nationwide and broadcasters around the world. Before that, Cooke was executive editor of content at CBSN, the 24-hour digital streaming news network, where she led the unit’s push into original documentaries and helped guide breaking news coverage, and also was a senior broadcast producer for “CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley.”
During her time at CBS, Cooke was the recipient of a News & Documentary Emmy Award and a Gracie Award. She is a graduate of Temple University, where she is also a recipient of the Lew Klein Media Award, an inductee of the Alumni Hall of Fame and the university’s Gallery of Success. She was featured in O Magazine in 2019. She is on the board of Solutions Journalism, Capital B, The City, an online, nonprofit newsroom, the Alliance of Women in Media and is a founding member of The Meteor.
Cooke lives in New York City where she is a voracious reader, ridiculous foodie, long-suffering NY sports fan and a proud first generation Jamaican-American.