By Meagan Bess
Photos by: Dominique Oliveto
Founder and CEO of Black Monarch Entertainment Olivia Charmaine is making a name for herself. She has worked with Kerry Washington’s Production Company and has been an executive at TBS, TNT, and TruTV while also managing shows such as The Last OG starring Tracy Morgan and Tiffany Haddish. And now she’s finally turning the camera on herself with her new weekly live stream show, “The Tea” currently on IGTV. Embracing her melanin, queerness, and womxn power after making her mark in the TV & film industry as one of Hollywood’s best-kept secrets, Olivia Charmaine is paving the way for other black women and young girls to one day follow in her footsteps.
What enabled you to earn your degree and successfully pursue the career opportunities you have fulfilled?
I was able to attend NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts to study Film. I was able to go on an MLK scholarship which is awarded to high school students who did exemplary work, community service and social justice activations in their community. I started a nonprofit in high school and I was able to travel and do social work.
What can you share about working with Kerry Washington’s production company?
I would say that I really loved working for a strong powerful black woman, in particular. As a black woman, having someone that looks like you and inspires you is life changing.
Why did you start Black Monarch Entertainment?
Black Monarch Entertainment is a Production Company. At the heart of it, it is all about representation. I am able to give a voice to those who are underrepresented, specifically women and people of color. I want to be able to give marginalized groups direct access to the business and have a shot at accessibility and success.
Who do you want to reach with your company?
It’s a multimedia company and I want to reach large audiences on big screens and small screens alike. Mass media has the opportunity to impact social change. Whether it’s pushing cultural conversation or allowing people to open their minds and open their hearts to think of someone differently or think of something differently. That’s why I love working with marginalized communities, because their stories are often unseen or underrepresented and allows people to open their minds and hearts and react with empathy.
What do you like most about your livestream show “The Tea?”
It’s a moment of shared reflection and shared self-care. It’s a moment to pause, drink your cup of tea, and let your hair down. I love that it’s an intimate setting that my guests can feel comfortable in as well.
What do you like most about interviewing stars like Janelle Monae and Jidenna?
I love being able to talk to artists about their journeys, specifically multihyphenates. People who are actors, writers and directors or are performers and editors or whatever their multihyphenate careers may be. I really love digging in and finding out how they get where they are. Also, what aspired them or what they’re inspired by in using their platform or voice to stir social change. I’m really inspired by artists who are activist as well.
What is one notable thing you can share about your career so far that has transformed how you think about your field/industry?
I would say being able to work with notable figures such as Kerry Washington at her production company. She is a producer who is extremely intelligent, is a champion for diversity and inclusion and is open to new ideas. Working with her I was able to adopt some of the same practices as well.
How has international exploration opened your eyes to communities that some people may not know exist?
I consider myself as a constant traveler. I’ve been to places like Nicaragua and Ghana. I’ve spent time in Mexico, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Cuba and places all over the world. One of the favorite places I went to was Ghana in West Africa, where I traced my roots and lineage. I am representative of several communities. I am black, I’m a woman, I’m queer. I can’t be a voice for all communities. Being able to meet people where they are is very critical and being able to hear their stories correctly and experience their culture so that I can better represent them in a larger way.
Who has inspired you along the way and what would you say to them as a thank you?
I would say there are so many people that have inspired me along the way. All the guests I’ve had on “The Tea” are incredibly inspirational. Some of them are old friends and that’s why I wanted to bring them on the show. They have inspired me, and I wanted them to share that wisdom with others. One particularly notable figure that I would call out and that I call out all the time is Whoopi Goldberg. As a dark skin performer, I looked up to her when I was young; she was my direct representation for what I wanted to be doing. She was so poised and so kind and generous and successful to her field. So, to her I would say thank you for being fearless and for paving the way for so many other dark skin actresses in this field; and now there are so many and she has really paved the way.
What is to come that you want your audience to know about even if it’s just the smallest details?
I would love my audience to know more of me outside of “The Tea.” I am going to be producing a feature film and the goal is to have a theatrical release and to take it to different film festivals as well.
A final message from Olivia Charmaine is, “For those who want to get into the entertainment industry and learn more and don’t feel there’s a place for them or feel too different or don’t know how to get started, or don’t have enough money, no voice is too small, every voice is important and celebrate your differences because that is really what Hollywood is, to celebrate your differences on a grand scale. So don’t be afraid to lean in, to learn and reach out to other people for advice and to really get started.”
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