You know how everyone likes to say “I should have my own reality show” whenever their lives get a little complicated? Well, my ears perk up at the sound phrase, because that’s what I do for a living. I help people get their own reality shows.
But let’s back up.
I think I was known as “the girl who blogs” for so long, that even nine months into a full time job, most people assume I don’t work. Which is fine, but it’s probably worth noting that I’ve been with the same company for 2 1/2 years– though only part time until earlier this year. Since most of what I share with the public are blog posts about motherhood and Instagram stories of my puppy begging for food, perhaps it’s time to shed a little more light on what I actually do with the majority of my days (besides keep my babies alive and the house intact).
How does one fall into the magical world of TV? Glad you asked. As I was floating down the river with 50 acquaintances on a tubing trip in 2016, I happened to tube-bump a woman who used to take a taxi to work with Mindy Kaling every morning. I didn’t learn this fun fact about my tubing friend until a year later, but my magnetic pull to Mindy Kaling probably explains why I immediately thought this woman was AWESOME.
As we drank our beer(s), she asked what I do. At the time, I was blogging daily, but just seeing where life takes me. I asked what she did, and she told me she developed unscripted television shows.
It’s a miracle she kept talking to me. Anyway, turns out she actually headed up the entire unscripted department at a production company that just *happened* to be headquartered in Virginia Beach.
Since I’m ballsy and am generally comfortable inviting myself places, I asked if I could come tour the studio. She said “sure”, and that was that. I didn’t think anything would actually come of it since she clearly had her life together on a level that I did not.
Much to my [pleasant] surprise, she reached out to me through mutual friends a few days later, and asked if I wanted to come in for an interview for a position she had open. It was one day a week of researching people who might be interesting enough to have their own TV show.
I’m pretty sure I’m the only person in the history of the world that had the flexibility in her schedule to be interested in a one-day-a-week job, but I was downnn. I showed up at the studio, pitched the VP (the woman I’d met) and the Director of the department a few ideas I had that were terrible (what if my friend who wants to be a singer had a show??), and was offered the job. Must’ve been my desperate enthusiasm.
Over the next few months, I learned what it actually took for a brand new unscripted show (you won’t hear me say “reality” anymore) to actually sell to a network, and I scoured the internet to find gorgeous house flippers, outdoorsy subcultures, families with 15+ kids, and untapped competition formats.
Surprisingly (or maybe not), I had a knack for finding people made for TV. Six months into the job, I was working two research days a week instead of one. Then I was adding in even more hours as I graduated to interviewing promising leads via Skype. Then I was learning how to edit the Skype footage into two minute packages to pitch to our agents and CEO, who would then decide if we’d bring it to a network.
Before I knew it, I had a full-blown part time job working in unscripted television. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I knew how to find interesting people doing interesting things, I knew how to produce the heck out of them to make them seem interesting on camera, and I knew how to cut that footage down into bytes and create a two minute story. It was just like editing an essay! But instead of words, sound bytes!
I took time off when Anders was born, but when he was 12 weeks old and I’d just started brushing my teeth regularly again, I called my boss to say I was ready to take on a few research hours a week. In an unlikely twist of events, five days later, I had a full time offer on the table.
Kudos to our CEO for offering a new mom an outrageously cool– yet highly demanding– position 12 weeks after she gave birth. Seriously, most execs write off new moms. Ours put his confidence in me, which is something I’ll always be grateful for. I wish more working mothers were encouraged to flourish in the workplace instead of stifled by stereotypes and misogyny.
That said, I told him “no.” I didn’t want to look for childcare, and Aaron and I were comfortable with my part-time or no-time arrangement. Again, major 21st century props to my CEO for taking into consideration my status as a mom, and allowing me to bring Anders to the office so I could continue breastfeeding and raising him, as well as allowing me to work from home half the time. It was pretty much the most amazing offer in the history of offers, so my “no” turned into “I’ll give it a go.”
So last April, with my 3-month-old in tow, I showed up to the office and began my journey as the Assistant Director of Development for unscripted television. Somehow, “taking it one day at a time” has already turned into nine months and counting of career satisfaction.
For a long time, I’ve hesitated to publicly explain what I do, because– as you can imagine– everyone wants to tell me why they should have a *reality* show once they find out. I wish it was that easy.
I wanted to share what I do now, though, because I freakin’ love it. And it’s time people really knew why I decided to get a part-time nanny in order to keep myself sane, and why I am no longer available for a random Tuesday lunch date. Yes, I still have the flexibility to work from home, but I am hustling each and every day in an incredibly competitive industry…and lo-ving-it.
Working has made me a better mom. Now that’s not to say Anders is no longer my priority, or that I know exactly what the future holds. But for today, for this season, working has helped me immensely.
It’s given me independence, satisfaction, and the opportunity to use the bathroom without a needy baby screaming at me to hurry up from the next room (on days he’s with the nanny, at least). It’s allowed me to refine my creative writing skills with pitch treatments, given me the opportunity to meet the COOLEST people around the world– everything from car shop owners to alligator trainers to unlikely families to interior designers for the 1%, and granted me a new best friend/work wife. Not to mention the satisfaction of working hard and succeeding.
Yes, some days I feel like I’m drowning since I work 45-60 hours a week, half of those hours still in charge of Anders, and Aaron is out to sea for months at a time, so I’m holding down the fort by myself. BUT it’s worth it.
I mean, who gets to develop fun, entertaining, ridiculous unscripted shows for a living?? All because I happened to bump into the right tube on a river one summer.
So, now you know! It’s a ridiculously fun job– and for real– I’m always open to ideas if you think you know people who would be great television. Just don’t be offended if I politely decline because I’m running through a list of 100 boxes every new talent must check.
Assistant Director of Development, at your service. Feels good to be the right amount of immature and workaholic for this type of job, which combines my love for over-analyzing people and story-telling.
PS- I’m not allowed to talk about specific networks or projects we’re working with/on. Sorry, can’t answer that! But I can tell you that I know much more about alpacas than I did nine months ago.