Ray Baker grew up in Baltimore, MD, home to one of the highest rates of heroine and crack abuse in the United States. If it wasn’t for his athletic ability or being a self-proclaimed “eloquent speaker,” Baker, a junior broadcast journalism student at Howard University, doesn’t think he’d have made it to college.
But now that he’s here, he’s making a name for himself as president and founder of LAGO Media and Entertainment.
”LAGO is the name of a drug corner,” Baker said. “It’s corner of Liberty and Gwynn Oak Street. I chose the name because that corner has been associated with something negative and now I wanted it to be associated with something positive.”
Lago Media and Entertainment is a black-owned and operated production company that strives to create television and radio programming that Baker says “shows the humanity and multi-dimensional nature of black people.”
As a result of recent law changes from the Federal Communications Commission, there are a select amount of companies such as Viacom and Disney that are currently monopolizing the media. The lack of diversity in this industry makes LAGO, a black owned company, standout.
Through LAGO Media and Entertainment, Baker hopes to encourage high school students.
”I am trying to get black students with average GPAs excited about going to college,” he said. “In [high] school, it felt like the goal was to graduate-don’t sell drugs and that’s it. We want it to be more.”
This urge for wanting more and aiming to get students excited about college was the inspiration behind LAGO production’s first show, On Campus: Out of the Class and Off the Field. The show displays activities on a college campus that students don’t regularly see, such as the Howard University Mock Trial and Debate teams or athletes discussing politics instead of pigskins.
”I just want to bring different perspectives and bridge the gap,” Baker said. “Often time, people don’t get to see the multiple levels of people. Most of the time it’s ‘shut-up and shoot my basketball,’ ‘shut up and run my ball,’ but it’s more to a person than one thing.”
However, owning a production company wasn’t his first goal.
”I wanted to be a news anchor, but there were enough black people saying white thoughts on television. We call them rappers,” he joked. “Very few black news anchors express our issues.”
Becoming serious once again he explains, “Black folks are dehumanized on television and in the media in general. We are too often shown in one way. No human being is monolithic.”
While his company doesn’t have a motto yet, he believes in the idea of being real. “Not the BET definition of realness, but whatever your reality is. I think black people overuse the term real. So rather than liking realness, I appreciate honesty. If you’re tough, that’s fine, if you’re silly that’s cool too, if you’re deep than that’s you, but always remember that we are people and we are not one dimensional so be honest about it.”