Reality TV executive Carlos King knows his way around the reality TV scene. In part two of the interview, the producer discusses fighting for ‘Love & Hip Hop Atlanta’s’ Karlie Redd, how reality TV has changed and working with Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry. Peep the excerpts and interview below.
On Casting Karlie Redd For ‘Love & Hip Hop Atlanta':
I met with Mona and she offered me the job and she was like, well come meet with the other cast members and some are potentials we haven’t really solidified yet. So we met with Erica and she grew on me. And then when it came to Karlie, we were missing one person. Again, I worked on other shows prior to ‘Love & Hip Hop Atlanta’ so I know when a cast member is excellent. So one of the AP’s [Assistant Producers] named Brian Jones, he suggested Karlie Redd to us and I did her green screen interview the first time and I fell in love with her. I thought,’ Karlie Redd is so delicious to me. She’s reality gold.’ Karlie Redd was born to be on reality TV. She is so real, she’s messy but that’s who she is. She’s like, ‘This is me I don’t care.’ Unapologetic. I love that about her.
So me and Mona used to go back and forth…. She’s like, ‘You like Karlie?’ and I was like, ‘I live for Karlie Redd.I love her.’ I’m like, ‘Trust me trust me she’s going to be fantastic.’ And I think the first season you saw that. She integrated herself with the cast and she said things that you’re like, ‘Girl I can’t believe you said that to K. Michelle but okay.’ You know what I mean? Like she didn’t care. And she’s so real and the situation with Benzino and how she’s like, ‘Well, I’m going to try and date this guy Roscoe Dash’ who’s like years younger than her–I’m not going to tell her age.
On how he sees the ‘It’ factor and a potential reality star:
It’s like beauty is in the eye of the beholder but you have to be a producer. So it’s something that I can’t explain, but what I can say is you have to just be yourself. And I know that’s like okay whatever but I know instantly when someone’s trying too hard to impress me. People watch other reality shows and they’re like, ‘Oh, I’m going to be that person. I’m gonna be Tamar Braxton, I’m gonna be NeNe Leakes, I’m gonna be Evelyn Lozada.’
But Evelyn, NeNe and Tamar they’re themselves and people just happen to connect with them–they didn’t try to be anybody. So I know instantly when someone is trying too hard; but I know instantly when someone is themselves and they have a great story and not everybody’s meant to be on TV. It is what it is. When it comes to reality TV you have to have some sort of honesty and authenticity about who you are and you have to have a compelling story that people want to watch on a weekly basis.
On if he’s ever been wrong in casting:
I haven’t. I can honestly say I have not.No. Yes, absolutely I know I fought for Karlie Redd. I knew she was somebody that would be able to integrate herself with the cast and with the amazing stories that she had to bring to the table. Karlie Redd is beyond fantastic.
On who he feels is the most slept on member of ‘Love & Hip Hop Atlanta':
Erica. I think people see that she’s beautiful. I think people see that she’s the girl next door but what I don’t think people see when it comes to Erica Dixon is that she’s so genuine. And she is not a punk at all. I think people will see this season that she is magnificent and I want people to really see how amazing Erica Dixon is this season. She’s the most improved star of the show.
On how reality TV has changed since, five years ago:
I think the unfortunate part of reality TV is it’s over saturated. I think there’s too many reality shows that people just put on because they think, ‘I’m good TV this is a good idea’, but the unfortunate part of it is reality TV works because again you’re dealing with (an) amazing story. You’re dealing with authentic people and there are so many shows that’s on the air that should be on the Internet, if you will. It should be on YouTube–it shouldn’t be on network television, because it’s just not that compelling to watch because everybody thinks they could have a show. And what people don’t understand is it’s a gem to be on reality TV; like not everybody can be Beyoncé. There are a lot of singers who can sing but can you sing well enough and can you connect to an audience that want to invest in you to buy your record?
So when you’re a reality star–are you compelling enough that people will be invested in watching you every week and subsequently purchase the product you’re promoting and follow your career after? Nene Leakes is somebody who has went beyond reality TV to be on network shows. Glee, The New Normal and people follow her so they’re invested in this woman. They buy her books. They buy her shoes from Shoedazzle because they’re invested in this product. So unfortunately reality TV is over saturated ’cause people think again–they have a story to tell and it’s not interesting that’s why they get cancelled after a few months.
On his production company Kingdom Reign Entertainment:
I started it officially a year ago because I’m somebody who’s fortunate enough to be in a position that I’m able to develop shows on my own merit. So I’m in the process of developing a few shows. I signed Latavia Roberson from Destiny’s Child to my company and we’re in the process of pitching a reality show that will follow this pregnancy.
And the show is great because she’s pregnant by a well-known producer in Atlanta–it’s a big secret. And she has an amazing story to tell because a lot of people don’t know what happened to her after she was disbanded from the group, so you get a chance to really see that side of her.
On how he became involved with ‘Tyler Perry Comes to OWN':
I got a phone call from my agent over at CAA and he said, ‘You know they want you to executive produce Tyler Perry comes to OWN. It’s a special for OWN about Tyler Perry being behind the scenes.’ So I was like, ‘Okay that will be cool.’ You know he’s very private a lot of people don’t know that side of him. So when I first met him he was guarded and I remember being in his big office and it was me and the OWN executives and it was him and his right-hand men. And he made it very clear what he wanted the show to be like and I respected that. And I also said, ‘This is what I want the show to be like too.’ So I asserted myself. To watch this mogul run his business and to see a lot of African-Americans be employed because of his studio was amazing to watch.
I adore Mr. Perry. I think he is a fantastic mogul. He’s a role model of mine. You know it’s rare to see a black man run a million dollar company and to do it so effectively. He’s somebody who gets up at 5 o’clock in the morning to work out, he writes, he produces, he directs, he does it all. I got a chance to watch him do all of those things. And he’s so smart–again a lot of people were meant to do some things. He was meant to do what he’s doing because he does it so effectively; he’s a genius. So it was great to document the process of him putting on two shows for the OWN network it was great it was a wonderful life changing experience.
What Doesn’t The Public Know About Tyler Perry:
He’s very funny. He jokes with his crew and he’s very passionate about his team members and he’s very passionate about mentoring them. Again he has a lot of young African-American people working for him and he mentors them by telling them something. He’s somebody that likes to teach. He’s funny he’s passionate and he prides himself on employing a lot of African-American people in Atlanta. A lot of people are employed because of him and because of that studio.”
On the best piece of advice he’s ever received:
It was from my mentor named Joi Chen. She told me, ‘Your name means everything in this business.’ So every small thing you do, just know it can shape who you become and it can shape people’s perceptions of you. I try to always think about that. By me being a television executive who manages a lot of people, I always think about, ‘Okay, I gotta make sure that this is done correctly because my name is everything,’ and that’s why I’m so passionate about my shows. Like when people praise me on, you know Atlanta Housewives, ‘Love and Hip Hop Atlanta’, all these shows I’ve done, it’s because I take so much passion into the project because my name is on it. And when your name is on something, it’s important that you see it through. So that’s the best advice, and I think about that every day.
On the biggest lesson he learned from working with Oprah Winfrey:
You should never shy away from your success. Oprah Winfrey knows she’s Oprah Winfrey. Oprah Winfrey does not apologize for being Oprah Winfrey. Oprah Winfrey worked hard to be Oprah Winfrey and she taught me three years ago by watching her that it’s okay to own who you are. And I think unfortunately a lot of people like to shy away from the success. ‘I don’t want people to think I’m cocky, I have an ego’, you know what I mean and I was like that. Not anymore cause I don’t care.
So, she taught me that–own it. It’s one thing to me if you were an heir or an heiress to your parents fortune and you were given this opportunity, but it’s a different mindset when you worked hard for it and you want people to respect you. So every once in a while, you have to remind people ‘Honey, I am Oprah Winfrey.’ And I remind people, I am Carlos King. I will never forget she told somebody ‘Whose show is this?’ and they said ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show,’ and she was like ‘And don’t you ever forget it.’ And I was like ‘Yaaassss’.
On the best compliment he’s ever received:
I love to receive compliments about my work. Like, I’m not superficial when it comes to my look and all this other like, you know. I appreciate, you have no idea what it means to me when I am at a social event and somebody comes up to me, and they say, ‘I love what you do,’ because I don’t walk around thinking people know who I am. I’m not that person. I promise you I’m not. I get up. I know I’m Carlos King. But I don’t think a lot of people know that. So, I’m always impressed when people come up to me. They’re like, ‘Oh my gosh Carlos, uhmm I love your work. I wanna work with your company. Can I be your intern?’ And I be like ‘Who? Me?’ So I appreciate that people follow my career because there’s not a lot of black people who do what I do. So I love that there’s young kids who’s watching me, saying, ‘I want to be a producer.’ Versus saying ‘I want to be on reality TV. I want to produce reality TV.’ So that means a lot to me.
On the one thing in life he can always count on:
God. I can always count on Him to lead me in the right direction. And no matter what I’m going through in my life, it could be an adversity or something successful, I can always count that He’s putting me in this position for a reason. So every single moment of my existence, I always think, ‘God put me in this situation for a reason.’ I went through something horrible a few months and I was devastated. Like beyond devastated. I kept telling myself, ‘You’re going through this because God wants you to and you, this is your testimony, and one day, not today, one day you’re going to share that to people and you’re going to help others’. So, I’ll share my story one day, but it was devastating for me to go through that. But, I’m, I’m thankful that I went through it because I’m here today.
On what motto he lives by:
Live your best life.
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