Stevee-Rayne Warren is Producer Manager, Community crew up program, NOVAC recruiter and Consultant. She pairs up capable PA’s with real Hollywood opportunities.
Tell us about you and your background.
– I was born and grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and attended Southern University and A&M College where I majored in English and Liberal Arts. My mom was a cosmetologist and I would spend afternoons and weekends in her salon watching tv and movies to occupy myself and to not be in grown folks business. I recall always waiting for the credits and watching behind the scenes. I also would tag along to hair shows in the southeast region and that in itself was an entire production. I knew I wanted to have something to do with film and television I just did not know what my options were or even what the first steps were. It wasn’t until high school and after taking a video production elective that I started to see working in film as a reality. Our teacher Mr.Kyle really pushed us and exposed us to various aspects of productions. We made two feature length films that premiered at one of the AMC’s and actually gained some local and youtube buzz. I loved the collaborative process and being apart of something that brought joy to so many people.
Tell us about your profession and how you got into your line of work.
– While in college I worked at a restaurant and for the Bureau of Community Preparedness part-time, which I genuinely enjoyed but did not feel completely fulfilled. So, I applied for a security position at the local film studio in Baton Rouge. I didn’t get the position but the receptionist told me to look into an organization called NOVAC if I wanted to get some production experience. I did some research and saw that NOVAC had a tone of resources for individuals interested in film and tv. I signed up for the free cinematography workshop. Shortly after the workshop I reached out to the NOVAC Baton Rouge program manager Jillian Godshall to inquire about internship opportunities and a week later I was interviewed and hired. The opportunity was paid so I left my state job and took a leave from my restaurant job and worked the organization’s membership system. I was later promoted to membership coordinator.
Following my roles with membership, I started to help out with workforce development every chance I got and in 2017 I was assigned to manage our partnership program with HBO and a month later we garnered an additional partnership (PA pipelining program) with Warner Bros. The thing I love the most about working for the state was the community outreach and connecting the right people with the right situation and with these programs I get to do that but in a field that I am passionate about.
What professional accomplishment has given you the most satisfaction ?
– This year has been a big one for alum of the various programs I manage. We advocate that these opportunities will lead to sustainable careers in the industry but I did not expect to see such tangible impact so soon. There are a number of people in the union or on the union track, working director’s assistants, location managers, costumers, script supervisors, associate producers, staff writers that all came from these programs in the last 3 years. I’m proud of that, I’m proud of them.
What does it mean for you to have a commitment to Equality/Diversity ?
How have you demonstrated that commitment ?
– Having a true commitment to equality/diversity means actively recruiting storytellers and crew from different backgrounds through every stage. Not looking for black and brown faces at the very last minute for the bottom line. Another thing we tend to abandon is the environment that we place people in…Yes, it may be a chance of a lifetime to work on a big budget production but what does this “dream job” come at the expense of? Is it their comfort? Their peace of mind? If so, it’s not the right opportunity and it’s not worth it. When I started out I use to think the chance was enough. It is not. We also have to ensure that all involved are truly invested and supportive of facilitating more inclusive hiring processes.
Tell us how you work with brands to create or foster equity in the workplace ?
– Because I am a consultant through a non-profit and work under the social responsibility umbrella, I work with other non-profits and productions rather than brands. One thing I do love with working Warner Media (HBO, Warner. Bros, Turner) productions is the privilege to engage with a number of nonprofit groups and community based organizations around numerous social issues – many of which are addressed naturally in the content. For instance, the series BARRY is centered around a veteran, so I recruit exclusively from organizations that serve veterans for that show. That is one of my favorite things about this work, making authentic connections.
How would you advocate for equality and inclusion initiatives with individuals who don’t see its value ?
– I am really not in the business of changing people’s hearts. Because the people who are admitly against the type of pipelining programs I manage are usually those who have greatly benefited from the system that so often excludes the people that we serve. I am more focused on bridging the gap and setting the tone for the emerging creatives and industry leaders. One thing I do emphasize is that things are not the way they are by chance, it was intentionally set up to not be accessible to all, so our efforts for change have to be done with intention and care.
What experiences have you had with recruiting, hiring, training, and/or supervising a diverse workforce ?
Some of the recent productions I have recruited and placed PAs or interns for include; JOKER, QUEEN & SLIM, LUCIFER, DAVID MAKES MAN, JUST MERCY, YOU, QUEEN SUGAR, CHERISH THE DAY, IN THE HEIGHTS, CLAWS, ALL AMERICAN, LEGACIES, BLACK LIGHTNING, WATCHMEN, EUPHORIA, BALLERS, INSECURE, SILICON VALLEY, DEADWOOD, THE RIGHTEOUS GEMSTONES, DIVORCE, LOVECRAFT COUNTRY, WESTWORLD, THE LOVEBIRDS, PARADISE LOST, FILTHY RICH, and THE WALKING DEAD.
As more women of color enter and strive in the workplace, how will that affect the future of diversity and inclusion ?
Women hire more women, Black people, and people of color. Point, blank, period.
Any advice or tips for women trying to get into your line of work ?
– For women, specifically black women, a tip that I can offer about working in this industry, is that, it is possible to simultaneously be grateful and to stand up for yourself. I think a lot of us retract in these spaces because we are in fear of conforming to stereotypes or we are in fear of losing the opportunity. But it is so important to know who you are and advocate for yourself in this world because you better believe your counterparts are doing so.
Be sure that you are focused and attached to your personal purpose and walk and not a company, brand, or other individuals. I ask myself often, “what is the goal? why did I start this? Is what I am doing in fulfilment of my purpose?.” If so, I keep pushing. If not, I stop evaluate and readjust.
Whenever I am unsure or not feeling confident, I always think about a quote by Audre Lorde, “When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” I have this up in my house and office and these are truly words to live by.
What do you see as the greatest leadership strength ?
– I believe the greatest leadership strengths are empathy, emotional intelligence, and empowerment. The best leaders are those who are understanding and supportive.