RED CARPET ROYALTY: TANYA HART
RED CARPET ROYALTY: TANYA HART
By Teryl Warren
It’s time for the Academy Awards again, and when the biggest stars in Tinsel Town make their way down the red carpet, there’ll be another star already there – ready to greet them.
Over the course of 4 decades, TV Host, Producer and On-Air Personality Tanya Hart has made a career of being able to spot great talent. In 1982, while working at WILD in Boston, MA, Tanya was the first to feature a little known local group called New Edition on her show at the behest of their then-producer Maurice Starr.
“Boston was bursting with raw talent and getting national play with groups like The Cars and Aerosmith, so when five black kids from Roxbury appeared on my TV show everyone took notice. And the rest, as they say, is history.”
The exposure she gave them helped launch New Edition into a 30+ year career which yielded the spinoff group Bell Biv DeVoe, hit records, numerous awards and the recent BET biopic The New Edition Story. A few years later, Tanya would play a pivotal role in introducing another homegrown group to the mainstream that would go on to enjoy phenomenal success: a group called New Kids on the Block.
“The first time people ever saw them was on my show,” she told us.
Tanya’s storied career has been punctuated by the personal stories of some of the most fascinating people in recent memory. She’ll share intimate details of countless celebrity interviews in her upcoming book, but she did recall two career moments that stand out a bit more than the rest.
Tanya cites her 1992 BET interview with the late rapper/actor Tupac Shakur – which would later be used in the 2003 Academy Award®-nominated documentary film Tupac: Resurrection – as one of her career highlights because, two decades after his untimely death, “His voice still resonates today.”
“Another great moment was literally scooping all of the other networks when Nelson Mandela was released from prison,” she told us. After being incarcerated for 27 years in South Africa, Mandela and his wife came to Boston and, she recalls, “My crew and I literally camped out overnight at the Mandelas’ hotel; and we got the one and only interview with [his wife] Winnie Mandela.”
Tanya’s producing career began while she was a student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education under the tutelage of Sesame Street creator Gerald Lesser. She was instrumental in creating the PBS program Infinity Factory, and she went on to produce several documentaries for PBS, as well as syndicated children’s programs Call It Macaroni (NBC) and Rebop (PBS).
For the past 42 years in Network Television (and now in Cable and Satellite Television as well), The Caucus for Producers, Writers, Directors has provided a forum for the best and the brightest creative talent in Hollywood to network together as the ‘creative conscience’ of the Television industry. In her capacity as the first woman Co-Chair of the Caucus, Tanya now works to foster more opportunities for women and people of color behind the scenes. This year, Tanya is proud to announce that, for the first time, ever, an African American woman received the Caucus’ largest endowment – a $60,000 prize package from Panavision.
Beyond her current hosting gig on “Hollywood Live with Tanya Hart” – a daily syndicated radio and online program distributed by American Urban Radio Networks (AURN) on more than 300 affiliate stations nationwide – Tanya has made guest appearances on ABC, CNN, HLN, BBC, and “Inside Edition as an expert on diversity-related issues and current trends in the entertainment industry.
Tanya predicts that, within the next 5 years, most content will be provided via some sort of streaming. One only needs to look at the challenges The Recording Academy faced this year with multiple GRAMMY ® Award Nominee Chance the Rapper for evidence of the changing tide.
But, while technology may advance, Tanya assures us that, “One thing that will never change is the importance of being able to tell a good story. Anyone who can tell a good story will always rule.”
Speaking of telling a good story, Tanya recently produced the national awareness campaign “Act against HIV/AIDS” for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) through her a multi-media content company Tanya Hart Consulting, Inc. And Tanya and her husband Phillip are actively prepping a movie about aviation pioneer Bessie Coleman based upon Philip’s source material. The Harts are planning for a 2019 release of the film Flying Free with Bessie Coleman on which their daughter, Ayanna Hart, is also a producer.
And for the next generation of multicultural women hoping to pursue careers behind the scenes, she stresses the importance of professionalism, presentation integrity and skill.
“Sexism is always going to be worse than racism, and women of color are going to get both,” she said. To combat these dreaded isms, Tanya advises women to excel at their craft. But she also shared that a woman’s wardrobe can be quite a handy weapon – if used properly.
“Not to sound like an old fuddy duddy,” she laughed, “But you want to dress appropriately for whatever job you’re doing. I always say, ‘There’s no such thing as being too smart or overdressed’ because, either way, you’re going to stand out.”
For more information about Tanya Hart and her upcoming projects, please visit: http://www.tanya-hart.com.
For additional information on The Caucus visit: www.caucus.org