My personal experience as a woman in this business, with so few seats at the table available, has been that that there was no room to fail. When I had the opportunity, I hired as many women as possible to bring them forward and up in the world. However, what I missed was that this was so deeply engrained, that I was passing that mentality down, versus providing them with what they really deserved, which was opportunity + grace and breathing room.
As a part of our series about Inspirational Women In Hollywood, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Casey Patterson.
Casey heads Casey Patterson Entertainment, a full-service production company producing premium content, live events, and talent-driven series and specials with offices in New York City and Los Angeles. Most recently, Patterson served as lead executive producer of “VAX Live” which was co-chaired by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. She and her company also produced and directed legendary country singer-songwriter Loretta Lynn’s star-studded tribute celebration in Nashville, and helmed the breakout hit-series Lip Sync Battle, the highest-rated series in Spike history (now Paramount Network), and Nickelodeon’s series Lip Sync Battle Shorties. Additional credits include such high-profile events Netflix’s A Very Murray Christmas, Rock the Troops with Dwayne Johnson’s Seven Bucks Productions, Time and Punishment: A Town Hall Discussion With Jay Z , MTV Movie & TV Awards, Alec Baldwin: One Night Only, Taraji’s White Hot Holidays on Fox, The Comedy Awards on Comedy Central, Lip Sync Battle LIVE: A Michael Jackson Celebration, Guys Choice, The Concert for New York City, The Concert of the Century at the White House, Saturday Night Live 25th Anniversary Special, Between Two Ferns — A Fairy Tale of New York, SCREAM Awards, VH1’s Vogue Fashion Awards, VH1’s Divas Live, and NBC’s Concert for America. For more information check out — http://caseypattersonent.com/
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Non-traditionally, which I’m thankful for. I grew up with a very young single mom who worked hard to support us. My paternal grandparents were our support system and were a significant part of my upbringing — my grandfather was a heroic figure in my life. My mom married an English gentleman when I was young, and I was raised between St. Croix and London. I’m grateful that my upbringing was across multiple countries and cultures. I’m comfortable anywhere in the world, and learned early on, to make wherever I am, even temporarily, home. It’s a skill that has served me well, living on location for so much of my adult life.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I was the ‘I want my MTV’ generation. I would come home from school with my friends to watch it, and I felt like it was the first time a network was really speaking directly to me. I was drawn to the pop culture, but more, so the connection they had developed with the audience — via pop culture — to move the needle on the most important issues of the time. Rock The Vote, Live Aid, Choose or Lose…I felt like just by watching, I was part of something bigger than myself and just knew I wanted to be a part of that culture one day. John Sykes gave me my first job as an assistant in the talent department, and that was all I needed. The culture and mentality at that time was ‘grab the band, make some noise, change the world.’ I stayed for 20 years and worked across all of the networks. When I started a production company, they backed me, housed me, and became my biggest client. I’m proud of that run, that chapter, it was a great first act.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I cannot because my most interesting stories have to do with famous people and first rule of fight club is….
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting?
I can share that I have never done anything halfway, so my mistakes have historically been big and disastrous, more than they have been humorous.
Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Humility and contrition. I’ve also perfected the apology and I’m world’s best gift-giver out of necessity.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There were so few opportunities for women in leadership at the start of my career, but Judy McGrath and Beth McCarthy Miller were two leading ladies in the business that I was fortunate enough to have in my life for guidance and inspiration. Judy was the most soulful leader I’ve ever encountered to this day, so focused on inclusivity and individuality. She valued unique voices and encouraged me to find mine. Beth McCarthy Miller, a rare female director and one of my best friends, was my director of choice on most, because she’s brilliant, but also because I was safe with her in the male dominated world of live events — to be a student, to ask questions, to learn, to be vulnerable and curious, and to make mistakes. I’m indebted to these women and I treasure them. Most recently, when I decided to spend more time away from our standard fare to work on issue and cause driven projects, I fully expected everyone to jump ship and many did. But Brittany Mehmedovic, who was my assistant many years ago, and is now a fantastic producer on staff, raised her hand in a true Jerry Maguire / Renee Zellweger / Grab The Goldfish moment and said, ‘I’ll go with you!’ We’ve now spent two years working for the greater good, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
You have been blessed with great success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?
Failure is my favorite topic. I believe that it needs a serious re-branding. The only way to find out what you’re really made of is to bring every bit of your life experience — the very personal things that make you, you — to your work, every time out. Take the risk, bet on yourself and win or lose on your own terms. We all fail more often that we succeed, so, be the very best at failure. Take the lessons, claim victory, and move on fast — stronger and emboldened. We need failure.
What drives you to get up every day and work in TV and Film?
The possibility of working with great storytellers from all genres — writers, directors, filmmakers, musicians, comedians, actors — the world needs them. I’m always honored and inspired when an artist trusts me to help them tell a story of any kind. It’s a gift, these are my people.
What change do you want to see in the industry going forward?
Accountability. Misogyny and inequality are alive and well in entertainment. Decades into my career and in what is supposed to be a more ‘enlightened’ moment in time, three of the most blatant and egregious cases of this for me personally, happened in the last 18 months. The lesson I’ve learned is that if your instinct is to rise above, be elegant and accommodating for the greater good of a project ‘to just get it done’… resist the feminine urge to be graceful and be an immovable force on this issue. It’s our obligation to soften the ground and provide safe passage for the next generation of girls and young women coming into our industry.
You have such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Thank you, that’s very nice of you to say. Two years ago, I decided to take a one-year sabbatical from pop culture to work with purpose — not for profit — on what was most important to me personally. I’d previously worked myself into an unsustainable place, and had to reevaluate what ‘success’ really meant to me. I decided that I would work on behalf of women leading into the Women’s Centennial, heading into such an important election. I focused our efforts in DC to lobby for the country’s first Nation Celebration of Women on The National Mall in honor of the 100th Anniversary of Women’s Right to Vote. We were working alongside extraordinary women — Anthea Hartig, the first woman head of The National Museum of American History, Sylvia Acevedo former Rocket Scientist and CEO Girl Scouts USA, Virginia Case, CEO League of Women Voters, Speaker Pelosi, so many like-minded incredible “firsts.” We were in DC when the pandemic hit and lockdown was beginning. We came back and immediately pivoted to dedicate our full-time services to charitable organizations who were doing God’s work on relief efforts.
This leads us to Robin Hood and Tina Fey’s Rise Up New York relief efforts when the city was the epicenter. It featured Mrs. Obama, Aaron Sorkin and The Cast of the West Wing, and was in partnership with When All Vote for voter protection in unprecedented times. This month, we partnered with Global Citizen on VAX LIVE, Concert to Reunite The World. We called upon world leaders and with the help of The Pope, President Biden, Vice President Harris, The Duke of Sussex, President Macron, Prime Minister Trudeau, and more. We raised 320M for the equitable distribution of the vaccine, for the most vulnerable parts of the world. In total, the show’s we’ve produced have just surpassed half a billion dollars raised during the pandemic.
Where do you see yourself heading from here?
First stop will be the UK. We’re producing the 20th Anniversary Celebration of the Harry Potter Films with Warner Brothers and JK Rowling’s Blair Group — some much needed magic at just the right time. Overall strategically, we’ll continue to diversify into docs, scripted series and film, if that world will have us.
We are very interested in looking at diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture and our youth growing up today?
All people need to see themselves in the content, and that means they need to be represented properly behind the scenes as well. As much as I appreciate talking about this in the context of Hollywood, and it is desperately needed — it’s the education system that concerns me most. Our history books and the tools we use to teach children need to be re-written with less bias. We need to be more honest about the contributions of women and all minorities, so that all children see themselves reflected in the most important story of all.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
1. That you will never be the best at anything other than being yourself. The most important thing we can bring to our work is the full range of our life experiences, and to let the good and bad, dark and light, inform a unique point of view that sets you apart.
2. My personal experience as a woman in this business, with so few seats at the table available, has been that that there was no room to fail. When I had the opportunity, I hired as many women as possible to bring them forward and up in the world. However, what I missed was that this was so deeply engrained, that I was passing that mentality down, versus providing them with what they really deserved, which was opportunity + grace and breathing room.
3. I had always assumed that as I worked my way up the ladder, I would eventually be given the keys to the secret room where they keep all the smart people. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone but…
4. You can be monetarily ‘successful’ by playing a volume game or just by being good, and charge a premium for being good. The rest takes care of itself.
5. Fight the urge to feel “lucky” to be in the business. Earn it, and then own that you’ve earned it forevermore.
Can you share with our readers any selfcare routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body, mind or heart to thrive? Please share a story for each one if you can.
The most significant change I made in my life was to learn about how the brain really functions, and to stop being so hard on myself when I can’t bend it to my will. I also took time to lay the heavy armor down in one arena, to move into another, more vulnerable, and to be of service. There is no form of self-care more powerful than that.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Sure, two come to mind off the top:
- ‘A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a change to get it’s pants on.’ — Winston Churchill. The modern lesson of this classic is about the true danger of social media right now.
2. ‘Casey, I wish to win the opportunity, like at auction, to hunt and kill you for sport’ — Aaron Sorkin. This one is a lesson about brilliant writers, and notes.
You are a person of huge influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I’m not an influential person. What’s inspiring about that is that you don’t have to be to start a movement and bring about change. Change comes from ordinary people, doing extraordinary things from wherever they are. It’s about picking up the mantle where you are and carrying it forward just enough. That’s all it takes.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
Yep — @champagnepapi for the normal reasons.
Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?
Cautiously and intermittently @caseypattersontv — though I have to tell you, it’s not worth the price of admission. It’s the one place I have no desire to entertain 🙂
This was so informative, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!