Olivia Charmaine Morris of Black Monarch Entertainment on building a safe space for content creation that drives social impact

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Describe your business in a few words?

Black Monarch Entertainment, at its core, is an inclusive artist collective.

What made you take the leap to start your own business?

For me, it’s always been about representation. As someone who is a queer, black woman, I’m a champion for artists that sit at intersections of “otherness.” I’m honored to be able to build a safe space for content creation that drives social impact.

What was your background prior to starting your own business?

I’ve worked in Hollywood for years as a development executive specializing in original scripted programming.

Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

Whether working at big companies or smaller startups, I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, so it’s quite natural that I would eventually pour that energy into my own creative endeavors.

Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?

I spent most of my early days connecting directly with my network and letting everyone know about my latest endeavor through word-of-mouth. So much of the entertainment industry is predicated on relationships and who you know.

We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?

I used to try and remember everything myself, but I’ve learned to have systems in place for project management. It helps keep everyone organized and on the same page.

What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?

I’m coming up on my first year anniversary of starting my first business!

When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?

Because we’re working in entertainment, I always ask questions about what the candidate watches and reads, and any trends that they might see emerging.

How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Covid halted production and cinematic releases in the entertainment industry, and although production has slowly started back up again, movie theaters are still recovering. On the other hand, the business has flourished from being able to make more connections in the online environment. 

What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?

The goal of the business is to develop, sell, and produce film and television projects, and over the next few years, you should see our shows up on the big screen!

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?

In person events fuel my industry, and I had to learn to engage with online seminars, meetings, and speaking engagements, and learn how to conduct business virtually in order to survive.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?

I think the most important piece of advice is to remember to stay in the moment. It’s so easy to start to worry about the future but it does little to help you manage what’s at hand. It’s also important to be kind and gracious to myself and others through tough times.

How have you managed to stay grounded this year?

I have a strong community of other industry executives, particularly black women, and I have leaned on my tribe for constant support throughout the year. I also practice yoga, which is active meditation, and it helps me stay grounded in my day-to-day life.

Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?

I’m very self-aware and know that balance is the key to life. As much as I value my hard-earned role in the entertainment industry, I appreciate self-care just as much or more. Consciously carving out moments to take care of your emotional, physical, and psychological well-being is critical, and you don’t have to spend a lot of money on fancy spa packages to achieve results. These days, I think naps, long walks, and drinking tea are my favorite forms of self-care.

What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?

I used to be an actor as a kid, and my first job, outside of babysitting and dog sitting, was as a stage performer in live shows at the amusement park.

What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?

I go to bed early, allow myself breaks in my schedule, and do something physically active, even if it’s just going for a walk around the neighborhood, each day

What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?

Women are fierce, resilient, and creative, and to me, being an Entreprenista means celebrating the dynamic intersectionality of being a self-starting, female leader.

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