Today’s television landscape includes popular television shows for black women like Unsafe and Around twenty. And while these shows have been widely celebrated and loved by the masses for portraying millennial relationships and dynamics in captivating ways, the stories of black women in their 40s are often glossed over.
Yet black women in their 40s are often at the forefront of cultural moments and continue to push unique boundaries. Think: “Beyoncé’s beautiful tribute to feeling better than she ever did on her 40th birthday.” Mary J. Blige killed it in the Super Bowl. Niecy Nash makes history by posing on the cover of Gasoline with his wife Jessica Betts. Halle Berry making her first feature film in her fifties. We continued to inspire and reinvent ourselves. And simultaneously, having incredible purchasing power and cultural capital. As an audience, we are a force,” says writer and producer Felicia Pride.
This led to Pride launching his production company CHILI HONEY, which tells and shares stories by, for and about black women forty and older whom her team calls Honeys. The primetime television writer for shows like Grey’s Anatomy and sugar queen shares more about building her production company and the gap she wants to fill in the TV industry.
Become a writer for Primetime TV
Pride began her writing career twenty years ago as a journalist and continued to publish books, but after it became difficult to get additional book deals, she looked into her degree in marketing. While living in Washington DC running her own consultancy as an impact producer at age thirty-five, she felt drained but had a lingering desire to return to storytelling. This led her to move to Los Angeles with a script at hand that became Netflix’s. really love, but also “a plethora of life experiences and wisdom,” notes the writer and producer. Then, after a layoff from an executive role in film distribution, it blessed her to refocus on the spark that fueled her move to Los Angeles, writing.
“I really had to figure out why I gave up writing,” Pride shares. She remembers doing a lot of personal work around fear, doubt and low self-esteem. After embarking on therapy to resolve lingering trauma, she expanded her arsenal of self-care tools to include: meditation, yoga, hiking, sisters time, and journaling. These tools helped her refocus and realize her dream of becoming a screenwriter. “I took many writing classes. You have a career coach who focuses on working with entertainment professionals. I joined writers’ groups – which I’m still in – and really immersed myself in the craft. Writing scripts and working to make them great,” she describes.
Once she felt her portfolio of work was ready, Pride applied for scholarships and programs and was accepted for NBC writers on edge. The experience helped her land an amazing opportunity on Ava DuVernay sugar queen, which she remembers was a dream job. This opportunity, coupled with her incredible network of supporters, then opened the door for her to be recruited on Grey’s Anatomy.
“It’s really been a mix of preparation, timing, working on my craft, working on my network, and a lot of faith,” Pride shares. In addition to these opportunities, she is currently developing television projects with Netflix and FX and writing film projects for Universal. And at her production company HONEY CHILE, she’s excited about the first slate of TV and film projects set to hit the market in the next two months.
Become independent as a director and producer
“While making my first feature film, I learned that cinema, unlike television, is really a director’s medium. And I knew I had stories I wanted to tell where I would be involved in the process from start to finish. But I told myself that I could not realize. That I didn’t look like a director,” shares the founder of HONEY CHILE. She finally realized that the comments were all lies. After a thorough discussion with herself, she took a few lessons – noting that lessons are her thing – then once she felt ready, Pride developed a story that wasn’t too complicated for her first. realization: a place, a day and two actors. . This show then became tender and has won awards on the festival circuit and premiered on STARZ.
And while directing allowed Pride to be involved in sharing all parts of the storytelling, producing also allowed him to be part of the creative conversation from start to finish while ushering in voices for the projects. that she does not write. “One of our goals at Honey Chile is to produce TV shows and movies created by other Honeys,” Pride shares. Her production company will give her a new platform to amplify other black female writers in midlife stories.
Pride’s Latest Project “Chili, Please”
“Chile, please” is Pride’s first foray into audio. With the launch of the podcast, her team explored the pleasures and pains of being black and middle-aged. It’s hosted by Pride and his good friend, corporate strategist, and fellow Honey, Ivy Grant. And it’s produced by Dianne McGuire, also a Honey.
With podcasts being a rapidly growing business, Pride found there was plenty of room for growth, especially for the black community. Audio lowers the barrier to entry for shared storytelling with the HONEY CHILE community. Pride’s goal is to independently fund scripted and unscripted podcasts, own them, and then pursue licensing wherever you are interested. She discovered that there are several mechanisms to monetize podcasts (eg, sponsorships and merchandise). More importantly, the founder of the production company believes: “it will allow us to tell stories and continue to build our community of honeys”. To that effect, Pride and its team pride themselves on the fact that their average watch rate – which measures how much of each episode your audience listens to – is close to 70%, which is well above the 50% average for the industry. ‘industry.
Learn from past experiences and sow them
Considering her previous experience, Pride said, “It’s interesting because when I came to Hollywood at thirty-five, I came with what seemed like several different working lives. It was only a few years ago that I realized how much my work as a journalist and then as an impact producer/entrepreneur has helped me enormously in my career and especially now that we are building HONEY CHILE and that we publish projects like “Chili, please”. ‘.”
Some skills she drew on from her past experiences to build HONEY CHILE include: 1) Starting and running a business, 2) Launching a number of initiatives during her consultancy work that led her to understand what is needed to launch a project, and 3) Creating large-scale marketing/audience development campaigns for clients. Pride has learned to position HONEY CHILE for its audience first. And by focusing on building community, she aims to have a greater impact on the lives of viewers.
Pride shares the following tips for writers looking to break free in the industry:
- Put your job first: Write, write again. And then write more. Get feedback on your work. Take courses. Read scripts. Master your creative process. And try to focus on what you want to say in your work.
- Find ways to do your job: In her debut as a director, tender, she launched a crowdfunding campaign and wrote the screenplay to be as inexpensive and feasible as possible. And afterwards, his team organized a case study in partnership with Black Film Space and released a resource on how they funded and produced a short film.
- Be versed in the craft of creating: Read the trades. Look for podcasts and articles that tell how others are creating independently.
- Develop and cultivate your own relationships with other writers, creatives, executives, producers, and more. : So much of Hollywood is, for better or worse, about who you know, she shares. Many of his opportunities came from his personal network. Additionally, Pride runs a newsletter she founded in 2012 called The Daily Create that helps creatives, especially creatives of color, stay up to date on potential opportunities, from programs to grants.
Additionally, Pride shares tips for those aspiring to become independent producers:
- Know all aspects of the business: By knowing all the business aspects well and being aware of the roles people play in it, you can better understand how the roles work together and what it takes to complete a project.
- Identify what you are trying to tell the world: “Producing is hard and often thankless work,” shares the producer. Having a specific goal to hold on to helps.
- Networking and relationship building: Build relationships with financiers, brand executives, writers, teams, talent, and more. is really important in your ability to identify, persuade and build collaborative teams.
- Constantly sharpen your sense of storytelling: You don’t need to be able to write or direct, but understanding the story and how it works goes a long way.