Jacqui Pitman, CEO of Pitman Casting and PartyPit Productions Inc., is the executive producer of a reality TV docu-series that she created and cast, in partnership with Asylum Entertainment for the Bravo Television Network, called “To Rome for Love.” “To Rome for Love” focuses on five single, African American women as they head to Italy with relationship expert Diann Valentine, to find themselves while searching for “the one.”
Widely known throughout Hollywood as the “casting director with an executive producer’s eye,” Pitman began her casting career in the late ’80s for the hit dating show, “Love Connection,” and Fox’s hit show “STUDS.” She quickly moved up the ladder and became a casting director on multiple shows.
Why is it important for Black women to operate in leadership roles and decision-making capacities?
I believe its important of all women to be seen in a leadership role in all things so that we can be role models for our children and so that we are represented and have a voice in society. However, as a woman of color, the importance is triplicate because many of our ancestors gave their lives so that we could speak and for that reason, we must make sure their suffering was not in vain. … I learned early on that it was my responsibility to be strong, accountable and reliable, that way if I weren’t leading from the beginning, I would always be looked at as one who could take the reins at any given moment.
How did you determine your career path?
Though introverted I was always extremely outgoing and active as a child. I loved living in the fantasy world of the visual arts because my personal life was so traumatizing … I knew I always wanted to work in entertainment whether it was to become an entertainment lawyer or producer. While in college getting my bachelors in radio, TV [and] film, I realized law school was out of reach financially, however, I also learned while in school that I had a very creative mind. I did a myriad of jobs and internships in radio and TV, and upon graduation, left a full-time job in import and export with an $1100 a week pay cut, took my first TV job which was on the show “Love Connection.”
If you could thank any Black woman history maker for her contributions to society, who would it be and why?
There are so many, however, for me in my generation with no apologies, I thank Oprah and Whoopi Goldberg. Both of these women opened doors in the Entertainment industry for black women that look like me. Both of them have always had a voice of activism, they make sure that they have been seen, heard and not dismissed because of the color of their skin, the texture of their hair or the size of their waist. I loved that. They prove that content of character goes far beyond the color of our skin.
How do you feel about the hashtag #CollaborationOverCompetition?
I have always lived my life by helping and collaborating with others in life and in business. No man is an island and no one person knows everything. You need the knowledge, relationship and perspective of others —particularly in my industry — to excel. I work in a visual media and regardless of what I may think, my work has to have mass appeal and I find establishing relationships with partners who come from all walks of life enhances who I am and the quality of work I present.
How did you grow from failure?
I successfully have grown from failure many times over because I don’t view it as failing. I view it as a forever living, breathing life experience that I will from time to time need to learn from. It truly fuels my drive to succeed.
What inspires you to show up at work every day?
The loyalty of my staff inspires me the most.
What are the do’s and don’ts for young women in business?
Do find someone that you respect in business to mentor you.
Do as many internships as you can while in college so you have a sense of what you like and don’t like.
Do look at failure as a negative look at it as a learning tool.
Never compare yourself to other’s success.
And more importantly, remember it’s never just who you know, it’s the impression you made on them during your first meeting that will last forever. I cannot tell how many times people and friends have their first meeting with me embedded in their minds even after 20 years of knowing one another.