Those of us who follow entertainment and leadership trends know all too well that the entertainment and media fields are still heavily male-dominated in terms of leadership and influence at the top. This gender imbalance is detrimental to the field, and to the world.
From my view, however, it’s critical to highlight too that things are changing, and that powerful and influential women are positively shaping how things are being done and perceived in the entertainment world, and beyond.
Dany Garcia is a great example. Dany is the cofounder of Seven Bucks Productions alongside Dwayne Johnson whom she also manages through her company, The Garcia Companies, a talent and media management holding company. Seven Bucks Productions is focused on creating innovative content rooted in authenticity, strong storytelling, and passion. Dany executive produces HBO’s record-breaking comedic hit series Ballers, Paramount’s anticipated feature film Baywatch, and HBO’s upcoming documentary Rock and a Hard Place to name a few.
Garcia has also served as executive producer for acclaimed projects such as Theater of War, starring Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline, Lovely, Still, starring Martin Landau and Ellen Burstyn, Racing Dreams, with Academy Award nominee Marshall Curry, and Which Way Home, a 2010 Oscar Nominee for Best Feature Documentary.
Outside of her work in the entertainment field, Garcia is a wife, mother, and lifelong philanthropist and social advocate, as well as a professional body builder.
Garcia shares her vision and insights on positively shaping entertainment, and pursuing her personal mission and passions.
Kathy Caprino: Dany, how are you able to balance your career as a professional bodybuilder while maintaining your career as founder of The Garcia Companies and cofounder of Seven Bucks Productions with Dwayne Johnson?
Dany Garcia: Balancing a professional bodybuilding career as well as a thriving enterprise career, coupled with being a wife and mother definitely requires me to seek innovative processes that are most supportive to how I want to live my life.
While it may appear I wear many hats, I think of it as wearing one gloriously large hat. To that effect, I have worked hard to foster a very high level of discipline. Not the traditional discipline of working longer or harder, but the discipline to stay true to the aspects of my life that are most important to me and be patient and resourceful enough to find solutions and processes that support them. For example, one of the logistical advantages I utilize is having my home base and Garcia Company offices located on the east coast while the majority of my extended team members are on the west coast. This allows me to effectively cut my day into segments.
From 6 am to noon, I will focus on the fundamentals of my bodybuilding career such as my fasted cardio sessions, strength training, posing and insuring that my nutritional requirements are correctly formulated for the day’s non-training activities. By the time this is complete, my team on the west coast is up and active so from noon on I’m focusing on enterprise development. Intertwined throughout the day are activities with my family. They touch every aspect of my professional life including brand and creative decisions as well as my bodybuilding career. We don’t limit our time to just family dinners, instead we are actively involved in many aspects of each other’s lives.
Caprino: I’ve read that you were originally in the finance field. What motivated you to make the move from finance to entertainment, and how has your background in finance helped you succeed in your current roles?
Garcia: When I was at University of Miami, I was offered the opportunity to work at Merrill Lynch. The structure at Merrill Lynch didn’t create glass ceilings, and that was very attractive to me. I could see the bigger picture and knew whatever I learned at Merrill Lynch could be carried over to benefit my future endeavors.
Entertainment was always an aspect of my career even during my Merrill Lynch days. I was very close to my then boyfriend’s career who was supportive in creating space for my voice and opinions. Additionally, as I transitioned from Merrill Lynch, I had already begun to explore independent film production, transitioning from there into a greater manager/producer role was a very organic process.
Through the entire experience my finance background has been invaluable. It allows me to not only sit with studio heads and understand their budgetary and ROI objectives for film/TV properties, but also to model out individualized enterprise organizations around each of the talent and brands I work with. I believe that it’s vital to have an equitable and mutually beneficial relationship with my partners and studios as well as to take a business perspective with every project I explore.
It places everyone on the same side of the table and fosters longevity and trust. Both vital elements for a successful entertainment career and very much the reason we have been fortunate enough to launch so many successful properties such as HBO’s Ballers, Warner Bros’ San Andreas and most recently Dwayne’s lifestyle brand, Project Rock.
Caprino: What are your thoughts on the lack of diversity in Hollywood and how do you use your position, power of influence and work to encourage other women in this field?
Garcia: My thoughts on diversity are very straightforward: Quite simply, there is greater opportunity for more and the lack of it is a detriment to creativity, global reach, expansive thinking and the audience experience. The encouragement and advancement of other women in this field is part of my daily practice and a passion , from the all-female team of The Garcia Companies, to my personal relationships with the women I come in contact with on a daily basis.
I feel it’s very important for successful women to have a continuous voice and share their experiences. Whether through social media or more formal platforms, a continuous example of female leadership on a daily basis encourages the important mindset that success in greater measures is absolutely obtainable for today’s woman and the women of the future.
Caprino: How have you maintained your success in such a male dominated field?
Garcia: My first career began in then very male dominated field of finance. Additionally, as a collegiate athlete and woman who was continuously training with or either around men, I developed an insensitivity to being the only female in the room. All of this helped me to develop a very strong fundamental belief that conversations inclusive of a feminine POV are inherently richer and potentially more expansive.
Whether it’s in a board room, an editing room, a production pitch, my opinion is every table needs a female voice. With that perspective firmly in place, my strategy is then simply to be the absolute best at what I do. I spend a good portion of my work days expanding my thought process, researching, exploring new philosophies. Anything that fosters my ability to be an expansive thinker which ultimately leads to better decisions, smarter solutions and the ability to be more effective. Throw on top of that the fact that I’m a competitive professional bodybuilder and I say the cards are stacked in my favor!
Caprino: What can someone in your position do to help more women achieve higher standing positions in the film and TV industry?
Garcia: Empowering and elevating other women toward successful careers in this field is one of my passions. I feel that sharing my experiences and personal philosophies can inspire other women to seek solutions for navigating the entertainment industry in ways that are most reflective of who they are. I’m excited to have a greater connection to the community through speaking forums and panels and I encourage all successful women to take a portion of their time to reinvest in our community of women professionals. Ultimately, women should be hearing from other women as to examples and methodologies that will potentially resonate with them and the careers they want to build. It’s about taking a moment to be invested in their advancement and personal goals, mentor when appropriate, lead by example and be a supporter.
Caprino: Finally, Dany, what advice do you have for women who want to become successful producers in their own right?
Garcia: One of the major keys to success is abandoning the conventional how-to’s and developing a greater comfort in who you are. When you begin to respect your passions and develop faith in your own voice, you will successfully construct processes that are inherently most effective for you.
For me personally one of those processes is to always ask the question, “Am I taking care of my audience?”
As a producer, that audience actually becomes more than just the viewing audience. It’s your talent, your production team and your studio/networks. Many producers will focus solely on the creative project. No creative project lives in a vacuum; its success is dependent on how it resonates with all members who will touch the project.
Keeping that in mind and cultivating broad perspectives is a valuable skill in the development of a successful career. Additionally, developing a POV and being comfortable with its expression is just as invaluable. Know who you are and have the confidence to appreciate that your voice is contributing to advancement of everything you touch. Most importantly, stay committed to your own personal growth.
For more information, visit sevenbucks.com.
This article originally appeared in Forbes.
photo courtesy of Twitter