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Dr. Holly Carter prepares to debut ‘Preachers of Atlanta’ and Merge Symposium

Photo courtesy of Dr. Holly Carter
Photo courtesy of Dr. Holly Carter

Musical talents such as Usher and Master P are just a couple of clients Dr. Holly Carter helped transition into film and television. The president and CEO of Relevé Entertainment soon gained nationally renowned gospel clients such as Deitrick Haddon, Mali Music, Kierra Sheard and Michelle Williams. Thanks to Carter’s innovative ideas, Relevé has become one of the leading management, development and production companies for faith and family-based artists and content.

Carter and her firm were instrumental in developing “Preachers of L.A.” and “Preachers of Detroit,” the widely discussed Oxygen reality shows that follow the lives of influential church leaders. A new addition to the franchise, “Preachers of Atlanta,” is expected to premiere next February. Oxygen’s “Fix My Choir” and BET’s “The Sheards” were also developed with the help of Carter.

As she prepares for the new “Preachers of” installment, Carter is also anticipating her upcoming class, the Merge Symposium. Generally offered as a three-day summit in Los Angeles, the Nov. 21 master class in Atlanta will treat the promising next generation of leaders in entertainment to a faith-based education in empowerment and the ins and outs of the music, television and film industries Hosted by Bishop William Murphy III of The Dream Center Church of Atlanta, the symposium will also feature networking opportunities, workshops, and panel discussions from some of entertainment’s top personalities.

Rolling out spoke with Carter about what we can expect from “Preachers of Atlanta” and why Merge is so important for upcoming leaders in show business.

How did you get started in family oriented media?

I knew that I wanted to be a part of the entertainment business that impacted culture in a way that would uplift, inspire, and cause others to want to do the same. I started in television casting — casting for shows like “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “Roc,” and “In Living Color.”

Why did you move into religion-based media?

I was working with Usher, who I represented at the time, managing all his television and film. I wanted to take the relationship I built in Hollywood representing him and transform those relationships into inspirational content and artists in a way to uplift the Kingdom.

'Preachers of L.A.' cast (Photo credit: Oxygen Media)
‘Preachers of L.A.’ cast (Photo credit: Oxygen Media)

What inspired you to become a part of the “Preachers of” franchise?

In making the transition from Usher and Master P to representing more of a gospel personality — the Mary Marys, the Donnie McClurkins, the Cece Winans — spending time with Kirk Franklin and getting introduced to these pastors that had lives outside of the pulpit, I knew that we as a body of parishioners tended to put them on a pedestal and not give them a chance to live. So, I wanted to take them from behind the pulpit and give them an opportunity to be seen as human beings with their own challenges, aspirations, [and] their journey through delivering.

Was it your brainchild?

Well, I also represent Deitrick Haddon, and he had an idea that included himself, Tye Tribbett, and I think it was Noel Jones, and it was based on personalities in the gospel space who had fallen. The idea was called “Truth.” And he wanted to get these people together to tell the truth and follow their lives recovering from the fall. My idea separate of that was, how do we document their lives? So we ended up combining the two and we delivered something we created as a concept, and at the end of the day, it was all about truth.

What made you think Merge was really important?

It gave an opportunity to leaders who were sitting at the pew of churches and wanted to be in Hollywood but had no access. So, my job was to give them access to Hollywood to share their gift.

There’s about to be a third “Preachers of” series in Atlanta. We’ve seen L.A. and Detroit play out. Has the franchise been everything you wanted it to be so far?

I feel blessed for the stories I’ve been able to tell with the franchise, and I’m excited about the new stories I want to tell.

Who’s going to be part of the cast in Atlanta, and what will be different from this series compared to the others?

I can’t say [who’s been cast] yet. [But] it’s a younger crowd — a younger, more alternative group of preachers, more in the Deitrick Haddon phase, that we’re representing in Atlanta.

Will there be a lot of unknown figures in the cast?

Some will be unknown, some will be known.

Merge is coming soon, correct?

We’re doing a symposium. This year has been the Merge Symposium tour. We targeted Chicago, Baltimore, and Atlanta, so Atlanta is Nov. 21, and we’ll go back to the three-day summit in Los Angeles next year.

For more information on Merge, visit the Relevé Entertainment Youtube channel here. Follow Dr. Holly Carter @DrHollyCarter.

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