Sarah Randall Hunt of 3TW Productions: “Transparency is key”

I think we haven’t yet fully explored how a feminine leadership style could be good business, and that kind of change and culture has to start with its founder. Fewer women in the role of founder mean the loss of potential gains. More women should become founders because I can’t wait to see what new […]

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I think we haven’t yet fully explored how a feminine leadership style could be good business, and that kind of change and culture has to start with its founder. Fewer women in the role of founder mean the loss of potential gains. More women should become founders because I can’t wait to see what new angles we could access creative solutions.

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Sarah Randall Hunt.

Sarah Randall Hunt is a producer, writer, and actress originally hailing from Kansas City. She’s acted in TV, commercials, and film, including Unfinished Business, Black-ish, Chronic, etc., as well as performed on stage in New York and across the country. She has been nominated for BWW West Best Featured Actress. As a producer, her main focus is creating playful stories with heart that brings to the forefront women, BIPOC, and the LGBTQIA+ community. Her projects have made it to the KCFF, First Friday Film Festival, LA Film Festival’s Danny Elfman Film Competition, and more.

It’s not just film she’s produced; it’s also stage productions, including two shorts: a happening short play festivals and Imagining Brad, directed by Clare Carey. Her new web series, Stupid Cupid, is a recipient of the 2019 New York Women in Film, TV, and Theatre Fund Grant. You can find the show on YouTube and Dunn Vision Media. She currently resides in Los Angeles with her screenwriter/director partner-in-crime in life and onset. They have a failed foster kitty called Zoey.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Only too glad to! Thanks for having me. From a little girl, I’ve always had a flair for the dramatic. My grandmother called me Sarah Bernhardt. My dad said I’d either be a lawyer or a performer. Sorry pops! 🙂

Growing up in Kansas City, I was lucky to have people who encouraged and inspired my creative and overly expressive side by taking me to live performances and art museums. A quirky family is the greatest blessing for building a sense of humor, which I find necessary for navigating any business. Something I was born with and reared to crave is a hunger for the truth. This and all the rest of me fell into my groove with acting. As I grew in the professions, I wanted more agency. I wanted to take action, have more input, and carve out new stories I hadn’t seen yet. So now I’ve added writer and producer to the list.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I had the great fortune of chatting with the incomparable Ed Asner on the phone for over 2 hours. He is originally from Kansas City, and a family friend connected us. He is hilarious, and it was a delight hearing his stories. He gave me lots of great advice, insight and was so patient to take the time for a budding entertainment industry professional and Mary Tyler Moore fangirl. One of my favorite moments was when someone knocked on the door, and he yelled, “who is it?” In perfect Mr. Grant fashion. He grumbled, said, “hang on a sec,” put down the phone, then had a whole hilarious conversation with the delivery person. The whole time I was giggling on the other end of the phone. He came back and said, “Hey you, are you’re still here?”

He was so wholly who he was, honest, vulnerable, and owned it. He told me about his upbringing, being the only Jewish kid in his school, and getting teased for this and his height. It was the tough stuff that built his strength and sense of humor to get through it. His commitment and fortitude forever inspire me. I’ve since seen him perform onstage 2 more times, and he continues to blow me away. What an honor to have chatted with him.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The only thing I can think of was my first day as a producer. It was like me trying to play basketball for the first time. Picture an awkward kid with asthma and whose only athletic ability came from ballet. I was scrawny. I get thrown the ball. Only I didn’t know that you have to dribble to move in basketball; I just sprinted to the wrong side of the court and throws the ball and hits the basket thingy. That was me on set my first day. While my basketball career never took off, I see a strong overlap between the two days; I picked myself back up, remembered to dribble, and kept my eyes on the correct basket. If you’re new at something and leading the charge, always make sure you have enough food and snacks. If people are fed well, they’re less cranky when something happens. Because something inevitably always happens. As Napoleon said, “An army marches on its stomach.”

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?

Susan Shopmaker is a casting director in New York who I interned for one summer. She’s an incredible talent and cast tons of stuff, including the recent fantastic Oscar-nominated film, Sound of Metal (highly recommend, if you haven’t seen it yet.) I’m so grateful she allowed me to see behind the scenes. But she also allowed me space to advocate for myself. At the time, I had experienced casting from a narrow-minded viewpoint that typecasts actors and keeps people in a box. One time I asked if she really meant to bring in this guy not typically right for the role, and she said, “well, why the hell not?” I’ll never forget all the lessons I learned by watching her, both creatively and business-wise.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

A Wrinkle in Time was a childhood favorite. I remember being blown away by the story, how imaginative it was, how it used science and creativity in conjunction to tell a really great story. I think it was the only reason I liked math class as a kid. It really taught me that your imagination is a powerful thing and that creativity is a valuable tool in all aspects of life.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?

My grandpa always said, “Everyone puts their pants on one leg at a time.” But it wasn’t until I heard Anne Lamott’s quote, “A hundred years from now? All new people” that I really understood what he meant. I’m a mildly (and sometimes more than mildly) anxious, introverted extrovert. The times I’ve taken the most risks are when I can strip away my nervousness and deal with the person or situation in front of me. I also love this about Lamott’s quote: in 100 years, what does all this matter? You should do whatever the heck you want now and don’t delay.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

I sure hope I have, but it’s hard to see the effect our actions have on the big picture. I think it’s important to make things that have something to say about the time. My goal is always to make something that creates awareness around something we may not be talking about and inspiring the audience to learn more, ask questions and sympathize in a way they would never have expected.

A darkly comedic play about interpersonal violence I produced tied in a fundraiser for a wonderful organization called Peace Over Violence. During talk-backs after the show, we had some astounding conversations with the audience. This was even before the ‘Me Too” movement. I learned so much from that show and from the people who came to see it. It felt like a communal experience.

I think that along the road, it’s important to lift others in your community rather than stay so singularly self-focused. If I have a win, it’s not mine. It’s ours. Many people have helped me along the way that it would be foolish to think a win is mine alone. It’s ours, It belongs to my community, and I want to share in that.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience, what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

Because I am not in the tech industry myself and am looking at it as an outside observer and curious researcher, I can only speculate from my experiences. What I think is generally prevents gender equity is the markers by which we measure success. Even if you do a whole lot of work to get women seated at the table, if you hold their ideas to a standard built by a sexist system, that woman won’t “succeed,” is that really progress? I think the lack of overall diversity, equity, and inclusion in investors and the entire tech sector feeds into a system too comfortable living by an old standard. That old standard may not work with an equitable workforce. The tech industry will have to do what they do best and invent a new way of doing things.

I’m a big fan of the work done by Project Include, which outlines step-by-step what actions the tech industry can take to move collectively toward a more equitable future. I’d definitely suggest people check out their site; there’s so much good stuff on there:

Can you share with our readers what you are doing to help empower women to become founders?

This is my favorite part! I’m so jazzed to share this with you.

First, the bummer part: The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media found in 2020 that “Among characters in STEM professions, male characters outnumber female characters two-to-one (70.2% compared with 29.8%).” The most likely reason for this is that’s what the world looks like right now. How do we create change? Do what A Wrinkle in Time did, use our imaginations.

My team and I have created Stupid Cupid, a comedy web series about 4 people who are least represented in tech: two women (one of them an immigrant,) a black man, and a trans man. These four create a dating app to fix modern love, yet when the app takes on a mind of itself, these heroes are forced back into the dating world to figure out why the app is working and better than before. Along the way, the team discovers their own failures in love and how to fix them.

The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media suggests that “if {they} see it, {they} can be it.” Our first purpose for creating this show is, of course, to make people laugh and relate to the horrible hilarious cringe-worthy dates. We all have bad dates in common. But most importantly, to rewrite the code on how things look today.

It’s important to show women and minorities in tech and also show them in positions of authority.

This might be intuitive to you, but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

Betty White has a crude quote I won’t include here about how tough women are. I’ll let you google that. But the point of it is that women are tough. They have to be resilient, turn on a dime. They get the job done, despite challenges presented on their path.

I think we haven’t yet fully explored how a feminine leadership style could be good business, and that kind of change and culture has to start with its founder. Fewer women in the role of founder mean the loss of potential gains. More women should become founders because I can’t wait to see what new angles we could access creative solutions.

I’m a big fan of the podcast “How I Built This” by Guy Raz. In it, he interviews tons of founders and innovators who built incredible companies from the ground up. I’m amazed at all the female founders’ journeys, the number of no’s they had to hear, how they kept going. If men were the only ones to drive market decisions, there would be no Barbara Corcoran, no Bobbi Brown, no Arianna Huffington, and more. Think of all the opportunities that lie within granting women an equal fighting chance at bringing their vision to light.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Can you please share 5 things that can be done or should be done to help empower more women to become founders? If you can, please share an example or story for each.

  1. Use media & entertainment to show female founders are real and inspire future female founders.
  2. Invest in not just mentorship but sponsorship of up-and-coming female leadership. It’s not enough to give advice. Go to the next step. Share your contacts with potential female founders. Introduce them to untapped potential and possibilities and watch them thrive!
  3. Before rejecting an idea, ask more questions to see if you really understand the potential market for it, especially if that market is outside your personal experience. We always see things from the lens of our own experience. But if we don’t take those lenses off, we could be missing out on a bigger opportunity.
  4. It starts with how you phrase things. Ask yourself, is your company’s internal language really inclusive? If it isn’t, change that immediately. Your daily attention will start to shift for the better. The words we use matter.
  5. Transparency is key. It’s uncomfortable to talk about inequity. However, you have to take a deep dive to make lasting change within an organization. When organizations are transparent about their inclusion stats & efforts, their people feel acknowledged. Their people can share feedback on what is and isn’t working to move the needle forward.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I would love to encourage greater cross-pollination of ideas across industries somehow.

I’m very inspired, for example, with Tesla’s sharing of their patents and the surge of energy-efficient vehicles that are happening because of it. I see so many opportunities for different organizations to cross-collaborate for creative goals. The workaround vaccines for COVID illustrate the same. I think power is in the numbers, and I’m so encouraged to see what’s possible if we work together for a common goal. I haven’t the remotest interest in pursuing this idea, so someone, please take it and run with it if they haven’t already. I used to work in health insurance, and there were so many issues when communicating with health insurance companies, providers, and patients. If there were just a little more coordination between each segment of this industry and government, I think we could make huge strides towards simplifying and making healthcare more affordable here in the USA.

In my own industry, I’m constantly seeking partners in alignment with my common goal. Are you a producer also excited by underrepresented groups? Let’s talk! Are you curious about making change through art? Virtual coffee time! Our show is currently doing a fundraiser for the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. We’re hosting a Clubhouse event on 4/1/21 at 3 PM with GDIGM’s CEO, Madeline Di Nonno. So excited to chat with other female filmmakers and shakers to talk about the state of the industry, where it’s headed, and what we can do to be a part of a more inclusive Hollywood of tomorrow.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Ryan Murphy is an incredible force to be reckoned with; I love everything he touches. He ranges from colorful, broad comedies to dark network dramas. That versatility! I’m floored. It would be an honor to pick his brain. I want to know what the heck time he wakes up to get all that done anyway!

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Why, thanks for asking. I’m on social media at @sarahrandallhunt, and you can follow Stupid Cupid Season One on YouTube and Dunn Vision and social media @stupidcupidus. The show’s website is

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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