A Conversation With TV Producer Alana Blaylock
It’s Easter Sunday at my cousin Blair’s house and TV/documentary producer Alana Blaylock and I are enjoying girl chat with a handful of good friends before dinner.
The conversation shifted from boy problems and our latest international vacays, to the slayage of Beyonce’s “Formation” video, to after work wine suggestions, and to, of course, work.
Alana told us about her upcoming shoot in Phoenix, Arizona. She’d be an integral part of the production of the show, “Deadline: Crime with Tamron Hall,” for ID Channel.
Alana Blaylock is not your typical millennial woman. Yes, she resides in Brooklyn, is a huge fan of chokers and super fly OTK boots, and occasionally attends a fashion show or two, but in addition to all that, she also moonlights as an everyday superwoman. In her current role as a field producer, Alana is responsible for going on set or on location, producing interviews and content, and making sure sh*t gets done the way it’s supposed to. She’s also responsible for showing young women in the entertainment industry the ropes, by accomplishing her own professional goals and milestones, one step at a time.
In order to brace herself for the impending southwestern heat, and due to the lack of time she’d have to dedicate to hair care maintenance, Alana roped her blond locks into waist length, robust braids, styled with an impressive top knot. Her dynamic flair for beauty and fashion, and self-described, “classy/glamorous/bohemian style”, has followed her throughout her career and life. I ask about her take on style and she explained, “I mix it up, and I have fun. That’s my approach to work and fashion. Both should be fun, but classy and tactful at the same time.”
Before getting her start in T.V., Alana kicked off her career in fashion PR, until realizing her true love for production. I asked how she knew she was destined for a life in production.
“I did not always know I wanted to go into television,” she said. “I started out in PR working for fashion magazines and fashion corporations. After college, I decided to start in production, and I thought that it really entailed a lot of my interests, such as management, creativity, talking to people, and traveling. That’s how I knew production was for me. I knew that this was the path I wanted to be on.”
With years of production experience under her chic, designer belt, Alana is no stranger to giving her all in the name of television, or her overall girl boss status. Her incredible resume includes credits from powerhouse networks like Nat Geo, HBO, TLC, and MTV. In recent years, she has produced a range of documentaries and films, such as a tribute on Nelson Mandela’s death, film festivals for NYU, and a number of crime shows with Today Show anchor Tamron Hall.
Most recently, Alana has been working on a new project surrounding police brutality for MSNBC. “The project speaks a lot about the controversy of the current time with policemen and black men and women. We covered a few recent, high profile cases, and I got to speak with family members. I really felt that it was the most substantive work that I have been involved in,” she explained. “It was a great learning experience, and that’s what I look for in every production. Every production should make you grow and you should want to feel like a better person. This documentary has definitely made me feel like one.”
Alana’s day-to-day work in entertainment is a larger reflection of who she is at her core. “I got into documentary production because I believe in sharing life with other people. What better way to do that than to be on different series where you’re meeting different interviewees, and people with different types of experience?” she asked. “You’re always making a personal connection, whether it’s a new team you work with, or whether it’s a new show you work on. That’s how my work expresses my values.” She credits her experience in fashion as one of the driving forces behind why she is as successful as she is today. “I took a lot of the skills I learned in fashion PR to production with me. I’m grateful that I was able to be around high-end clients, interview celebrities, and be involved in press kits and writing. All of that enhanced my overall production know-how.”
Like many 20-something professional women, Alana is always willing and able to take things up a notch. She fits into a category of fierce women who are strong, determined, and won’t take no for an answer — and she thinks you shouldn’t either. “I’m aiming to live a life where I really fulfill my full potential,” Alana said. “I do strive for greatness, I think that everyone should — they should define what that means for themselves. I think people should aim high. I’m one of those people who knows that nothing is impossible. I live my life that way, going after what I want, and really taking charge of my destiny.”
Navigating the industry as an African-American female has never been easy, but with iconic examples, like Ava DuVernay and Kerry Washington, Alana knows she’s in good company. Because of their cultural contributions in entertainment, the path to breaking through the “glass ceiling” is clearer for every woman following in their footsteps, Alana included. She described how the success seen in her role models’ careers have shaped what reaching the other side means to her.
“I’m lucky to have people — black women specifically — in the industry, like the Shonda Rhimeses, the Ava DuVernays, who have cracked it a bit,” she said. “I’m blessed to have that, and have those examples in front of me. But what I think it means to break the glass ceiling is to really get to a point in a moment where you can sit back and say, ‘I’m happy with the way my work life looks, I’m proud of myself, and I’m stable.’ That’s breaking the glass ceiling.”
Just as these strong women have inspired her, Alana wants to offer the same type of encouragement to up and coming females in the industry. “When people tell you no, keep going,” she said of working in entertainment, “find a way to make a no, a yes, and encourage yourself when you encounter small wins. It’s not always going to be easy, especially starting off, but persistence and a positive attitude are key.” Alana’s advice is drawn from life experiences she’s learned both on and off set. She explained, “what I have encountered is that when you’re a young female, you can get boxed into certain roles. You have to be your own change agent in this industry. You have to create the opportunities that you want. It’s simple for people to box you in, but you have to know when to say “no” to something that’s not right for you.”
As far as “girl boss” status? Alana knows that she’s got it on lock. “A girl boss is someone that owns her voice, doesn’t let people walk all over her, is confident, and feels good about the decision she makes,” she says. “I am a girl boss. I’ve come to a point where I’m comfortable going after the things I want for myself, and aiming for the life that I envision for myself. All in all, I encompass the definition of a girl boss.”