*There’s a shortage of black ownership throughout the entertainment industry. It’s still a challenge for people of color to gain equal footing with their white counterparts in film, television and production. Nevertheless, despite the odds, two African American women are making their mark in Hollywood in a very big way.
Powerhouse Productions was launched in 2003 by Executive Producers Rochelle Brown and Sonia Armstead. The “dynamic duo” pride themselves on the passion and dedication they give to each project and their proven ability to create and execute highly rated original programming that can be seen on top cable networks. Their slate of programming includes TBS, Food Network, TV-ONE, Fine Living, BET J, Cooking Channel, and Disney.
Powerhouse Productions is a full service production company with a nationwide reputation for high quality and innovative productions. The company has produced numerous series and specials, both in the field and studio based, with a diverse production roster encompassing non scripted, lifestyle, reality, and documentary programming.
“We met back in the 90’s working at Fox television,” Armstead explained during an interview with EURweb’s Lee bailey. “While helping to launch the Food Network, we became fast and furious friends. After working our fingers to the bone producing content for other people and not getting the return we deserved, we decided to start a business. It’s been 11 years and we’re still going strong.”
Armstead added, “When we first got started it was like the engine that could. We didn’t have a lot of money for a publicist. We had a small staff. But as we continued to grow, more opportunities presented themselves.”
Operating behind the scenes, these ladies know what it takes to get the ball rolling on a new television show, reality series or documentary. Their clients include popular talent like Chef Emeril Lagasse, Patti LaBelle, G. Garvin, and Dr. Steve Perry. The new season of their hit show, “Road Trip with G. Garvin,” premiered on Wednesday, May 21st and now airs Tuesdays at 8pm/7c on the Cooking Channel. Together, the ladies of Powerhouse have established an iron-clad reputation among their peers in entertainment and word is spreading of their accomplishments.
“We love what we do; it’s a great feeling to be able to mentor people we respect in the business,” Brown said during the interview. “We both love storytelling and we love to make great television.”
She continued, “There aren’t very many African American women owned companies that compete and create content for all the different network that we work with. It’s good to be in a place where we can create our own content and choose what we want to work on. It’s nice to have that freedom.”
Rochelle and Sonia’s road to success didn’t come without a few bumps and bruises along the way. In addition to their full-time day jobs, they spent countless hours bouncing ideas off one another on the way to building their television empire.
“We were grinding every day and every night,” they recalled during the interview. “We eventually stumbled upon a circle of folks that were big names. Once we started developing and getting involved, we discovered that the expectations of the people we worked with weren’t realistic. At the end of the day, we had to look at ourselves in the mirror and be comfortable with what we choose to work on. That is happening for us now”
Brown added, “We took a vision and a dream of starting our own company and we believed in ourselves. It’s a big deal what we’ve been able to accomplish thus far.”
As reality television continues to dominate family viewing, many producers and executives are hopping on the gravy train. From ABC to VH1 to Bravo, the popularity of unscripted entertainment has gained the attention of various networks searching for opportunities to maximize their ratings. The small screen has become saturated with conflict-driven reality shows, particularly those designed for African American audiences. This hasn’t deterred PowerHouse from cashing in on viable options, explained Armstead.
“Our preference is to do things that are responsible and make us different,” she went on to say. “Reality doesn’t always have to be knockdown, drag out bickering and fighting. A good production company can do all types of shows. The pie is big enough to make sure that we get our feet wet everywhere.”
Now fully established, the hard-working twosome intends to provide resources and opportunities to future generations of female movers and shakers in entertainment.
“For us it’s about being an example for young women,” said Armstead. “We go into a meeting sometimes and I say ‘wow there are no other brown girls in this room. Every dream that you have, no matter when you decide you want it, is attainable. At powerhouse we pride ourselves on pulling young women in and pulling them up and giving them the tools to fly.”
For more, visit: http://www.powerhouseproductions.tv/