EXCLUSIVE: Joye Chin, an executive producer on The Real Housewives of Atlanta, has been quietly giving young Black trainees an opportunity to work on the Bravo reality series for a number of years.
Chin, who has worked for producer Truly Original for 14 years and runs the company’s Atlanta production office, has been giving minority candidates the chance in a bid to make the unscripted business more diverse.
The production company is now formalizing these opportunities with a producer training program, loosely modeled on the DGA Trainee Program.
It will hire one trainee per season of the show, giving these trainees the opportunity to be paired with a story producer to mentor them and give them real-world, hands-on producing experience, rather than fetching coffee and photocopying.
Steven Weinstock and Glenda Hersh, who run Truly Original, had noticed what Chin had been doing and were so impressed that they added resources to make it an official program.
It also tallied with what the cast of The Real Housewives were saying, wanting more Black people behind-the-scenes. The cast, which includes Kandi Burruss, Cynthia Bailey, Porsha Williams, Drew Sidora and Kenya Moore, were becoming more passionate and more vocal about the platform their series could and should have in providing enhanced opportunities in television to African Americans.
The formalized program, which will be paid, will launch in 2021 for season 14 of the show.
Chin will oversee it with a pool of candidates from her alma mater, Clark Atlanta University, her personal life as well as those she met through work.
She is one of a number of pioneering women in the unscripted business helping to create opportunities for people that have long not had them. Earlier this year, Diona Vaughan Mankowitz, who has worked as a casting executive on shows such as Netflix’s Love Is Blind and Skin Decision, launched a collective of casting executives and producers to improve the diversity of non-scripted shows.
Chin said, “What’s so impactful about what we’re now doing is that it’s not a traditional ‘internship’ program; to my mind, those jobs don’t typically offer the critical access to the inner circle of influence, which is what really helps people rise in this industry.”
The hope is that Truly Original, which also produces shows such as Bravo’s Family Karma and The Real Housewives of Potomac, can roll it out across its other shows and in other areas.
“Hopefully soon we can do it on other shows we shoot out of Atlanta. Our hope is also to expand this beyond producers and include other key production positions like editors and directors,” she added.
Chin added that it’s not enough to just create these jobs, the key is to find senior executives that are willing to make the effort to mentor and teach. “It’s that combination – access and mentorship – that has eluded black people in the entertainment business for so long. That’s what our program is designed to address. We’re offering a recipe for real-world, pragmatic opportunity – the rest is up to the trainees. We hope to find some amazing people who can become part of the next generation of unscripted.”
Co-CEO Hersh said that Chin’s moves have led to the recruitment of some “exceptional” people. “We really credit Joye with the inspiration and implementation of this program. It’s been through her own conviction and personal efforts over the life of the series so far that she’s recruited some exceptional people. Many have gone on to rise within the show and the industry, as producers, DPs and directors,” she added.
Co-CEO Weinstock added that the pair were grateful to both Chin and the Housewives cast for everything they’ve done to raise their voices. “It is our goal to try and offer real-world opportunities for success in this business and we’re sincerely hopeful that this effort will help increase inclusion and equity in unscripted, and that the program will expand over time,” he said.