How publisher and filmmaker Tressa Smallwood saved $100K

Tressa Smallwood (Courtesy)
Tressa Smallwood (Courtesy)

Tressa Azarel Smallwood is a class act. A businesswoman, she is an award-winning publisher and the executive producer of the film Secrets, which sold out its screening during the 20th American Black Film Festival. Directed by Juwan Lee and starring Harold House Moore (“Single Ladies”), Secrets is a novel-to-film adaptation and has an edgy storyline.

Read what Smallwood, the founder of the Best Sellers Project and Mega Mind Media, has to say about branching into filmmaking.

How did you arrive at this career choice of being an executive producer? Was it a deliberate decision or a gradual and natural evolution?
Becoming an EP was well thought out. Although a natural evolution, I was in pre-production for nearly two years on my movie Secrets. I’ve also been in pre-production on my upcoming film, Born in The Game, for an equal amount of time.

What separates you from others in your field? What is unique to the experience that you create?
I run all of seven of my companies like a family. I think it’s that “close knit”, “I got your back” type of environment that keeps the best of the best in the industry wanting to be on my team. My content for my movie company, Mega Mind Media is unique because it’s all created to change the lives for the better in the African American community. You get real, raw [and] gritty stories that impact us all daily.

For those considering entering this arena, what skill sets do you recommend mastering? What traits are most conducive to success?
Mastering how to work well with others is key. The film industry is all about relationships and dealing with problems. Trust me. Issues will show up but how you deal with the issues will determine your success. Develop tough skin, humility, and an incredible level of fearlessness … and you got this.

How do you stay at the leading edge of your craft?
Constantly learning keeps me ahead of the game. It’s okay to be new to something. The question becomes how far are you willing to go to become the best? I’m ready.

Do you think that there are any widely held misconceptions about being an executive producer? If so, what are they and how do you work to dispel them?
Most [people] think executive producers do not do any hard work. I’m here to tell you, I, @CEOAZAREL, work extremely hard. I am responsible for budgeting, submitting my projects to SAG [Screen Actors Guild]; and I oversee my producers on every project.

Name three books, works, performances or exhibits that changed how you view life and/or yourself.
Ooh … because I love and read so many books this is difficult. I’ll take a stab at it.

The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach has changed my life the most. I used to spend money wildly in my 20s until I learned to contribute automatic payments toward my future. I was able to save over $100K within four years after learning this principle.

Before You Do by TD Jakes is a huge knowledge booster when thinking about my spiritual journey. Learning to pray before you do things, before you find yourself in trouble, or before things spiral out of control is an amazing skill to have. I was able to learn this after reading this book.

Becoming a Person of Influence by John Maxwell made me realize how to connect with others in a way where I’m always pouring into them. Whatever your vocation or aspiration is, you can increase your impact with Maxwell’s simple, insightful ways to interact more positively with others. You should read it.

What affirmations do you repeat to yourself that contribute to your success?
I absolutely adore affirmations. They get me through each and everyday. My two favorites:

  • Be fearless and watch every goal you work for manifests its way to you.
  • Invest in yourself daily…it will soon pay off.

What role does technology play in your day-to-day life? How do you utilize it?
The realization has hit me that technology runs my life. Yikes! I utilize apps to schedule my consultation clients and of course as a writer, I have all sorts of devices on deck at all times. I’m an Apple girl, so you’ll catch me with a few iPads, my laptop, and two iPhones wherever you see me.

What keeps you inspired?
I keep myself inspired. My dreams are huge so to reach them I must stay self-motivated. Also, my vision board and the constant written goals and reminders I put in place for myself keep me inspired.

What scripture(s) are you leaning on?
James 1:2-4

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have it’s full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Yvette Caslin
Yvette Caslin

I'm a writer, image architect & significance marketer. Love photojournalism, creative expression & originality.

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