Comedian Lil Rel Howery is using the streaming app KweliTV to give Black content creators more ownership over their work


Lil Rel Howery.

Lil Rel Howery, an actor and comedian, was in “Get Out” and “Judas and the Black Messiah.” He’s also the comedy head at the Black-owned streaming service KweliTV. He told Insider about his plans to help redefine Black comedy. See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Last summer, the actor and comedian Milton “Lil Rel” Howery grabbed his phone and scrolled through Twitter. An ad for the Black-owned streaming service KweliTV stopped him.

Enamored of the premise of a Black-owned media company, Howery downloaded the app and binge-watched indie shorts and feature films for two days. He reached out to KweliTV through a direct Twitter message, and DeShuna Spencer, KweliTV’s founder, responded.

“I was already in the mindset of wanting to jump into the streaming game,” Howery, 41, told Insider. “So I told her I’ve been watching everything and I was a fan of what she was doing.”

Founded in 2017, KweliTV has over 40,000 subscribers and offers over 500 films and shorts from independent Black creators, including dramas and documentaries. After several conversations with Spencer about the state of Black media and new techniques for content creation, Howery became the head of comedy at KweliTV in October.

Howery, who is scheduled to host the Oscars preshow on Sunday, has made a name for himself by appearing in films and TV shows such as “Get Out,” “Judas and the Black Messiah,” and “Bad Trip.” With his new position, Howery is reassessing the role of comedy in Black culture.

DeShuna Spencer, the founder and CEO of KweliTV.

He’s greenlighted nearly 30 projects, including an animated series, “The Matumbila’s,” about a Tanzanian immigrant family adjusting to the social mores of the US.

“Our business model is built around shifting the Black narrative, helping to dismantle implicit bias, and increasing the visibility and economic inclusion among Black creatives,” Spencer told Insider. She added that after the first few conversations with Howery, “I became excited