The new brainchild from entertainment executive LaVonda P. Rouse is The Blend, an inspirational talk show debuting in Fall 2018. The series seeks to heal spirit, mind and body by bringing together a panel of four African-American health & wellness experts for a lively hour that helps viewers live more empowered lives.
Rouse came up with the idea for the show after she faced her own health crisis. On an intuitive level, she felt there was a component to her healing that went beyond her surgeon’s routine skills set:
“For the best outcome, I felt that I needed someone who had the cultural competency to relate to me, so I prayed to God for an African-American woman doctor.” And as she interviewed health professionals, a black female surgeon emerged whom she clicked with, and she went on to have a successful operation.
Back to full strength, Rouse realized that her life was not the only one in need of healing. Ideas began to percolate: She became determined to help remove barriers black women often face as they seek to live fully realized lives.
“I created The Blend because there’s a need to bring black women to the forefront,” she said. “American culture has conditioned us to receive information from everyone but black women.
“Twice I remember reading about situations in which flight attendants faced an emergency with a passenger, called for a doctor, but when black women doctors volunteered, they were looked askance. It was as if they didn’t fit the profile of a physician, so it took everyone a minute to move past their biases, and that needs to change.”
Rouse has witnessed seedlings of this change with the #blackgirlmagic movement. The rise of Black women with the new Miss America, tennis’ Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka, Issa Rae’s vision on HBO, singer Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty make up line, and even politicians Stacey Abrams and Ayanna Pressley who’ve stepped on a national stage, eager to lead.
This has a financial component as well: Black women entrepreneurs enjoyed the highest rate of growth (67 percent) “in the number of firms they held primary ownership over from 2007 to 2015 … with more than $42 billion in sales,” according to Nielsen analytics.
Rouse tapping into her own entrepreneurial Black Girl Magic, first came up with a show called The Lady Doctors two years ago. She shot a pilot, distributed it online, and got respectable notices, but she has continued to tweak the idea. Her most recent creation, The Blend—referring to the mix of spirit, mind and body—is now well positioned to deal with a wider range of issues germane to Black women’s growth.
A person of faith, Rouse sees this as her ministry. She leads a God-driven life, which is why faith is the first ingredient in The Blend. In this, she’s on trend, as several faith-focused shows are slated in the 2018 TV line-up: Series such as Andi Mack, Living Biblically, and God Friended Me, all on either Disney or CBS this fall.
Rather than shop The Blend around and wait for a network executive to see the value in it, Rouse chose a web-based show.
“That also allowed me to maintain creative control, retain my rights, and make the series highly accessible.”
She hopes that means more Black women will tune in.
“With The Blend,” says Rouse, “we have the opportunity to heal together.”