Women In Film and Television Spotlight: Okema T. Moore
Okema T. Moore is a passionate multi-hyphenate who never thought she’d be here! Starting as an actor/singer, she found the roles for Black women stereotypical and monolithic and vowed to figure out ways to change that by both writing and producing…having no real clue how! In 2015 she left her cushy finance job at 36 to start all over, working her a** off to become an Emmy Nominated, PGA producer and now director, who has created content for the culture with OWN, Netflix, FOX, BET, TLC and more. From writing, producing and directing branded work, to indie shorts, to digital projects, to regional TV; Okema puts her whole self into every nook and cranny of the work. She is committed to proving that good stories come from all corners of life and that they deserve to be told by the most unlikely people! As development and directing beckon to her more and more, she works to bring the ideas of these unlikely people to the masses, all the while lifting while she climbs.
What have been some of the most memorable moments in your career so far?
Okema: My career has been incredible so far and also…HARD. But a few things that stand out are playing a hologram in Brian Stevenson’s Legacy Museum in Montgomery, AL. Alfre Woodard walked up to me on opening night and thanked me for my work! Another was a full-circle moment in 2020. I was the office PA on Oprah’s Master Class in 2017 and in a month I’d been bumped up to Coordinator, but I was still making a small weekly salary. However, it was worth it, as I learned so much and acquired one of my favorite mentors and sponsors, our director Annetta Marion. Fast Forward to 2020, I worked with an amazing EMMY winning and Oscar nominated Director as the Field Producer on a doc for OWN. As a Field Producer, you are also directing your shoots.I was given a team to go with to the deep south and I was producing and directing for OWN, making per DAY, what only three years ago I had been making per week!
The last major moment was during the pandemic as I got my Covid Compliance Certification to sustain myself while physical productions were moving back onto the grid. I had been working for a Black agency as their CCO, but expressed that I was also a producer and director. In January of 2021 a new project was on the table, but it was virtual. Their Creative Director was not able to do the job and the agency gave me a shot to step up. I went from CCO to Director/Producer overnight and did two awesome series for BET Digital for Women’s History Month. Since then I’ve directed both remote and in-person shoots for this agency consistently. God is amazing I tell you!
What do you enjoy most about the work that you do?
Okema: I think what I enjoy most about my work is being in the place to hire others and creating work that amplifies and celebrates Black people. As producer and/or director, I am usually referring department heads and contractors to work on my shows, both above and below the line. The ability to bring BIPOC creatives to the table makes me so happy, as lifting while I climb is essential. And it doesn’t have to be a Black show to “do it for the culture,” even though I do direct and produce a score of Black shows. Ushering in a series of Black chefs on Beat Bobby Flay to be cast, hiring a Black writer into the writer’s room when I ran Netflix is a Joke and using Black vendors on a predominately white comedy Pilot I produced all allowed people that look like me to be seated at the table and flourish.
What are you currently working on and have coming up?
Okema: I am presently Creative Producing a campaign for a major streaming network. While I can’t say who or what at this time, I can’t wait til I can share as I’m super geeked and it’s an IP that I think little Black girls will SWOON for! Other than that, I am in post for the beautiful short film Six Sixteen Richmond that I directed in Augusta, GA this past December. But there are lots of projects in the pipeline for 2022, so stay tuned. I’m also using this year to apply to a host of programs and grants, along with taking Directing and Acting workshops and classes. I miss acting a lot and getting back into my acting space is a major goal for me this year.
Who would you like to shout out?
Okema: I want to shout out the dreamers that are also doing the work for those dreams to become full reality. It is not easy and it’s not without its compromises, etc. But it’s so worth it. I want to shout out those of us that are in our 40’s and older, too. This business has long coveted youth as a mandate for success and it’s just not true! It’s also NEVER TOO LATE! I also want to shout out to my family, my siblings, my Mom, my (step) Dad, my Father and my manager. They all cheer me on so loudly! And of course my BFF Squad. LOL All five of my besties (Khalila, Claressa, Madi, Christine & Mel) hold me down and love on me whether I’m doing it big or falling on my butt. We all need that.
What are you looking forward to in 2022?
Okema: This year I am looking forward to forging stronger bonds with my true TRIBE. The folks that were pulling for me when I had no credits on my IMDB and was doing chitlin’ circuit plays up and down the east coast. I am looking forward to booking a Christmas movie (bonus points if I get to sing in it), booking at least two national commercials and some Co-Star/Guest Star roles on TV this year as well. I plan to get the greenlight to direct my first feature film and to be the lead producer on my first million dollar feature. I have the audacity to dream HUGE this year and I do it with a smile, with the idea that I am determined to do the work and completely unapologetically!
Check out Okema’s latest branded work published in Variety Magazine for The Harder They Fall’s For Your Consideration Oscar Campaign! (Creative Producer)
And if you’re looking for laughs to binge for the New Year, check out the hilarious late-night talk/variety show Hella Late! with Hollie Harper on BRIC TV! (Showrunner/ Series Director)
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