I started working in television in 1996 on a show called “Motown Live” with Ken Ehrlich. In truth, I actually wanted to be a lawyer, but after “catching the bug” and taking a look around at the world I had entered, my mind was made up – and from then on, I made television my career, despite never thinking of it as a viable career option for myself. I am now the CEO of Eclipse Television. Currently, we are working on Flex and Shanice for OWN and The Next 15 for TV One and also a few high-profile live events that I cannot talk about just yet.
We’re really proud to say that audiences have found our shows and are tuning in strongly, week after week. On the business side of the equation, what’s held true in the past is still holding true today: relationships and reputation still seem to work best! Networks like to work with us because they know we have a rich history of delivering high-quality projects – and that we can continuously deliver a consistent, entertaining product. They know that when we say we’re going to do something, we can actually do it, and we’re really proud of that.
My advice for those looking to break into this industry is there are no real shortcuts – so you have to put in the time and learn. Many people feel that they need to come in to a company at a certain (high) level, while others just starting out think that because they’re at an entry-level position, they should wait around and be told what to do. Instead, I suggest being proactive, putting in the time (a lot of time) and the results will flow. I personally know so many top-level executives that started as production assistants – including myself. If I wouldn’t have started at the ground floor and been as proactive as I had been, there’s no way I would have such an expansive network of colleagues today. That, and I also believe that it’s important to be kind and treat everyone with respect regardless of where they stand in the company – you never know where people will end up. I speak no differently to PAs as I do to a network executive; they are both humans working to achieve their goals and I admire all hard workers.
In business it’s best to be honest, be kind, and work hard! Business tends to be cyclical – you never know who you’ll end up working with. I love the saying, “Be kind to everyone on the way up; you’ll meet the same people on the way down.”
Social media has really impacted our shows in a positive way. It’s no longer good enough to just have a successful show on television. Audiences are expecting to be engaged with and be given mechanics and avenues that will get them closer to the content they love. The benefit is two-fold: we can retain audiences and increase what we can offer in terms of content, and because fans feel great about the show, they’ll bring their friends in to enjoy the fun.