We have spent the majority of our careers as television producers. Whether making Spike Lee's 'Miracle's Boys' or Bravo's 'The Real Housewives of New Jersey,' our defining passion has always been to tell stories that shine a light on the human experience. As two women of color from very diverse backgrounds – one of us by way of Berkeley, California, and the other from Monrovia, Liberia, West Africa – our life experiences strengthen our ability to do just that.
It’s not only our origins that are so different; our TV industry journey has been quite varied. One of us has a deep background on the writing and directing side; the other is well-versed on both the producing and business sides. This combination makes for a balanced and creative partnership.
We couldn’t have imagined when we first met as executive producers in unscripted television just how extraordinary our meeting would become. But after five years of working together, one of us on the network side and the other on the production side, the value of our diverse backgrounds came into focus.
No longer wanting to fight for a seat at the table, we decided to build our own.
In February 2020, Lauren Grace Media was born. Little did we know that only one month later, the world would come to a screeching halt as Covid 19 barreled into everyone’s lives. Like most industries, Hollywood shut down. Traditional media, as we knew it, disappeared seemingly overnight. We had to figure out how to pivot.
We wondered how we would keep our newly minted company afloat. We strategized about how we would be able to continue making programming during a pandemic. We asked ourselves hard questions. We brainstormed ideas. We spent a lot of sleepless nights.
Then, things began to come into focus. We realized our first act had to be to stay in motion. So, we continued to work on our development slate with the belief that the pandemic couldn’t last forever. Okay, so we were a bit naive. But at that time, we felt sure that production would start up again one day and that we needed to be ready when that day came.
But even with that faith, we didn’t know when networks and streamers would be willing to buy content again. So we needed an even bigger plan. That realization pushed us to create a fallback plan. Or as we like to say, an ancillary plan.
This need to remain viable, adjust, and adapt to this new environment forced us to explore what was possible and what we could create out of whatever was possible, given the pandemic circumstances.
And that is how we came to develop “Producer’s Confidential.” It’s a podcast born from the necessity to create content, generate a revenue stream, and do so by leaning into our strengths.
The decision seems obvious and simple now. But at that time, we were seasoned producers who were adept at producing other people to be the talent in front of the camera. If we were going to create now a podcast based on our expertise, we would have to learn to produce ourselves. That meant we needed to put ourselves out front by utilizing the knowledge and contacts we had garnered over the years of being in the background. We would have to become the “talent.”
We both took deep breaths, stepped out of our comfort zones, and rolled up our sleeves.
We taught ourselves how to navigate the podcast world's technical aspects, and we opened our contact lists. We told ourselves to "fake it til we made it" and started reaching out to old friends, acquaintances, and friends of friends, to book industry insiders like ourselves who wanted to sit down for a fun and interesting conversation about what it really takes to make it in our industry. Our guests have included legendary artists and talent, such as actors Phylicia Rashad, Paul Sorvino, Vanessa Williams, NBA powerhouse Shaquille O'Neal, and behind-the-scenes legends Art Bell, the man who created Comedy Central.
This reinvention, in large part, has become one of the cornerstones of our success. Soon after we got the podcast underway, Bravo TV tapped us to produce Race in America: A Movement Not A Moment! This 90-minute special consisted of Bravo talent sharing their thoughts and personal experiences on the awakening to the reality of systemic racism in America, catapulted by the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless other unarmed Black people.
We filmed the show entirely remotely with our production team, and talent spread all across the country. Neither of us had ever produced a remote shoot of this caliber before, so we had to jump in and learn on the fly once again. It was just one more adjustment to the success of our company during unusual times. After many lessons, and with a few bumps and bruises along the way, we not only survived that experience but we also successfully curated an important conversation on race, never told before on Bravo’s platform.
Our continuing partnership is a testament to manifesting success during a time of challenge.
Our varied life and career experiences have made these adjustments and decisions possible.
Our commitment and a shared vision for our company make the future look bright.