Producer Alicia Haywood has stepped in as one of the executive producers on Fusion TV’s “The A.V. Club,” hosted by John Teti. An easy find online (http://fusion.net/show/a-v-club-on-fusion/). The show get it’s spark because of Teti and his swift sense of humor. The show centers on movies, music, and television with a comedic point of view and commentary. Fusion TV is part of FMG, a division of Univision Communications Inc., aimed at serving young and diverse audiences with content that reflects their shared values and passions across platforms and languages.
FMG’s English-language properties include the aforementioned cable network, FUSION TV, along with UCI’s interest in El Rey Network, as well as a collection of leading digital brands that span a range of categories: technology (Gizmodo), comedy and satire (The Onion, Clickhole), sports (Deadspin), pop culture (The AV Club), music (TrackRecord), lifestyle (Lifehacker), women’s interests (Jezebel), news and social justice (Fusion), African American news and culture (The Root), gaming (Kotaku) and car culture (Jalopnik).
Producer Haywood was born and raised in Milwaukee and received her Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a Master of Arts in Media Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Film, Television and Digital Entertainment Media from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA-extension).
Although the Ebony-hued beauty might have the youthful appearance of a blushing teenager, she has 23 years of experience in the entertainment industry, having worked behind-the-scenes in a myriad of key departments. Her producing credits include work with ABC Radio and she also held a senior producer position at Harpo Productions. Haywood’s other producing credits include, In the Land of Canaan, Judah vs. The Machines, Dad, Inc., Beneath the Headset, Vows to Our Men and Women in Uniform, Inspired Living with Lisa Oz, Satellite Sisters, The Lisa Oz Show, The Dr. Laura Berman Show, Wright on the Edge, The Gayle King Show, Clean House, Mega Movers and Naturally Savvy Radio, to name a few.
Extremely skilled in budgets, Haywood also worked in the production accounting department, learning the ins-and-outs of union rates – per department -on 28 theatrically released feature films and over a dozen made-for-television movies and series, including such titles as: American Beauty, Toy Story 2, The West Wing and If These Walls Could Talk II, produced by Warner Bros., Disney, DreamWorks, HBO, and more.
The quick definition of a producers’ role – in film and television – is simple: they produce, and Alicia Haywood’s reputation stretches pass the glittering halls of Hollywood. In fact, one of Haywood’s proudest achievements, outside of the industry, is being an instrumental part of the launching of Media Literacy Week in the United States (2015). A role she did not anticipate as she climbed the producers’ rank.
Here is what Alicia Haywood had to share about being one of the executive producers on Fusion TV’s The A.V. Club, hosted by John Teti and how virtual reality opened that door.
Los Angeles Sentinel (LAS): Alicia, you have a very diverse and extensive background in the entertainment industry. How did you get involved with Fusion TV’s “The A.V. Club,” hosted by John Teti?
Alicia Haywood (AH): That’s easy, it was because of John Teti! He and I had the opportunity to work on a documentary about virtual reality and that was our first taste of what it was like to be in production together. Fusion [The A.V. Club] project was in development so I was brought into the mix when all of the elements were in place to go into production. I would probably do almost any project with John [Teti] because he’s really fantastic to work with on many levels. John Teti is the short answer to that question, Lapacazo.
LAS: I have a passion for virtual reality – what’s your take and how can African American creatives fit? Are we in the market place, creating content for the future? I will make that the last question, the Fusion TV publicist is getting nervous.
AH: Gosh, do we have to make that the last question?
LAS: No, go for it!
AH: So, this is what happened … when I started researching [virtual reality], I did not know much about virtual reality, beyond the basics of what we all see and read. I had not really experienced it; I had not really dug into it and I certainly didn’t have any experience on the production end of it. So when this project came about, I thought, well this is a project that I’ve not done but let me dive in – and it completely opened me up, completely opened up my perspective from a production stand point because I got it.
The thing about it – for me – I’ve been working in the professional media industry for 23 years now. I went through this season where I felt like it’s not what it used to be.
There was so much time and energy and resources being put into what’s the newest smallest, coolest, digital gadget – and/or thing – that we can get our hands on to shift away [inaudible] approaching media production and it was becoming more and more about the gadgets and far less about the content.
Content is what it’s really all about. I want to dig into the stories and the people. I want to use my work to connect with people. I want to use this immersive experience [that virtual reality creates] to create projects for purpose. Having people experience something different than what they are use to, so when that clicked for me, something really opened up for me on the producer level of my brain!
LAS: This is exciting because the African American creator must be a part of this new way of connecting and storytelling, do you agree?
AH: I agree completely. Now I get to have my audiences experience what I am trying to bring to them, not just see it, not just watch it, but really feel it … to be in it! So when I did that documentary [on Virtual Reality] with [Teti], I knew that, now, I have to produce something in VR because I want to take my relationship with an audience to that level.
LAS: Hooray, another sister stepping into the VR space. Count me in when you start those projects: I am intrigued. Ok the big and final question … what is media literacy to you?
AH: That is a great question and thank you for asking me about this. My involvement with Media Literacy Week in the United States is new because the initiative was just started in 2015.
Let me think … My own approach to media literacy education primarily focuses on media’s role in racial identity development among African-American adolescents. I teach my students how to recognize and understand the media’s calculation, and then how to separate themselves from it, in order to empower them to reach their greatest potential. To jump into Fusion TV’s “The A.V. Club” hosted by John Teti go too: http://fusion.net/show/a-v-club-on-fusion/