Q. You started in the entertainment industry long before diversity was a thing, how did you stay in the game?  

A. It’s been a long road with plenty of potholes, and every day the journey humbles me. I’ve had to hang in there at times when I wanted to produce a project, but the timing or money weren’t right. But that shaped my character, making me more persistent and determined. It also shaped my value system: I never want to put a show or product out there just for the sake of keeping my name in circulation. Everything has to be right and, as they say, “If you don’t get out of line, your turn will come.”

Q. What led to you working in TV as an executive producer?

A. It’s been a natural progression. I started out as an assistant to a director of development. I took on one project, and then the next and the next, slowly moving away from things that were just jobs, to projects I could believe in. The Blend aligns so well with what I want to say in the world, which is that Black Women are taking the steps to heal and find fulfillment in every area of their lives. 

Q. What is your favorite part of being an executive producer?  

A. Although the EP role is associated with being the boss, I enjoy collaborating with other talents who are at the top of their game. That’s why I named my company Collaborative Effort Entertainment. The EP is also charged with securing investors; moving the project from concept to fruition; and putting together the team. I love being in a position to hire talented black people who are right for the job.

Q. You had several ideas, why did you choose to develop The Blend.  

A. The Blend chose me! I’m always working on several projects simultaneously. In an earlier incarnation, The Blend was The Lady Doctors. I came up with that idea because I’d once had a serious health issue, and back then I prayed: “Lord I want an African American woman doctor to perform my surgery.” I realized that many women wanted a physician with that cultural competency I was seeking. That’s when I knew I needed to create a show with a format that was a mix between The Doctors and The View, but with black women doctors as hosts so they could expertly deal with issues germane to us. We need particular support to resolve the trauma we have faced, get on solid ground and, from there begin to soar. I wrote out my thoughts, assembled the elements, and sought funding.  In 2016, I shot the pilot, and in 2018 changed the name to The Blend, for the mix of spirit, mind and body. 

Q. It took you years to make it happen, how did you stay encouraged?

A. I know the value of holding a vision, so I don’t rush my projects. They naturally unfold and mature; I trust that God works everything out in the fullness of time.  Even when it looked like nothing was happening, I kept inching towards the goal, talking to potential collaborators, until I had everything in place. In the interim, I submitted my film Heart & Soul to some investors. They liked it. Then I asked them to take a look at The Lady Doctors, by then renamed The Blend. They liked that too, and backed it. As the show evolved I realized I didn’t need all the hosts to be conventional medical doctors. In fact, it was better that they be experts in their fields and represent spirit, mind, and body—a naturopathic doctor, a Doctor of Psychology, a psychologist, and a spiritual life coach. 

I needed to bring black women to the forefront because we’ve been conditioned in American society to see everyone as an authority but black women. If we are not in top positions, not visible, and don’t have a voice that can be heard, we get lost. Twice I remember reading about flights in which flight attendants faced an emergency with a passenger, and called for a doctor. Twice black women doctors answered that call, but when they stood and offered their services, they were looked at askance, as if they didn’t fit the description of a medical doctor, and thus were impostors. That needs to change. Black women are everywhere, doing everything, and doing it well. The Blend will contribute to reconditioning the world to see us in a positive light, so that we are acknowledged for the powerful gift we bring to the world. 

Q. Why digital TV vs. network or cable?  

A. I always knew I wanted this to be a web-based show because it made the series highly accessible. I didn’t have to wait for a network executive to see the value in The Blend and greenlight it. It also allowed me to maintain creative control and retain my rights.  At the end of the day, I wanted to own my ideas and projects. 

Q. How will The Blend improve the quality of digital TV?  

A. There’s already some quality programming on the web, so The Blend will be in good company. However, the series will bring to the fore an aspect of black women’s lives that we don’t often see with engaging content and quality production values. 

Q. Although “diversity” gets a lot of lip service in Hollywood, do you think The Blend could face a backlash for being unapologetically black? 

A. Anytime it feels like you’re excluding anyone, you may face a backlash. Though we’re focusing on black women, anyone can learn from the various segments we do. They are about healing, growing and living a powerful life. Viewers will be entertained, and at that same it’s programming with a purpose.

Q. What inspires you?  

A. The opportunity to fill a need. As I observe people, I see that sometimes they are crying out for more support and more information. I intend to always be a part of the solution, while avoiding anything that compromises my faith or values. God leads me to create content, seek funding, and express His love for humanity through my art. 

Q. How do you define success?  

A. Success is being obedient to God.  I’m doing what He has called me to do: Helping others heal through television is my ministry.

LaVonda's Q&A

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