Fast Forward Friday with Bronwyn Berry

For this week’s Fast Forward Friday, we interviewed award-winning producer Bronwyn Berry who relocated to New York from Johannesburg three years ago. She is currently working on the docu-reality series Durban Beach Rescue for the Travel Channel and the kids’ show Wonderama for national syndication. To learn more about Bronwyn go to http://rubyrocket.tv/

Q: What are you currently working on? Tell us about it.

I’m in the final days of post production on season two of the docu-reality show Durban Beach Rescue for the Travel Channel International. This show is the real life Baywatch! It was shot in Durban, South Africa in December 2016 —  the show is located 100% on a beach — which means I get to spend five weeks in the African sunshine while NYC freezes over. But there’s a catch — we work 12 hour days, seven days a week over Christmas and New Year’s so there’s little time for family festivities and New Year’s celebrations. Season one just won the Simon Sabela Award for Best Documentary series — so grateful to the team who made this show as good as it is.

Q: What was the inspiration and impetus for doing this project?

Firstly, an emotional connection — My family is from Durban and I was born there.  And then, the story world, the phenomenon that
is Durban during the holiday season is what appealed to me. It’s a 
character-driven show following a team of elite lifeguards who deal with massive crowds, dramatic sea rescues, shark attacks, strange ocean rituals, missing people, lost children … Special mention in season two goes to lifeguards Sue and Tammy who had the challenging task of working in a “male-only” profession, going up against notions of what a female lifeguard should be and came out shining and smiling.
  

Q: Who are your artistic heroes – who have had an impact on you and your work?

Showrunners inspire me — Jenji Kohan (Orange is the New Black) created a self-generating story world that remains fresh every season. Hope there’s a big pay-off for the sacrifice of beloved Poussey in S4. Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner (Girls). Ann Biderman (Ray Donovan) and Damon Lindelof (The Leftovers).

Q: What keeps you motivated and inspired as an artist?

Knowing people are watching my work — the main reason for going into television. I produced long running soaps in South Africa and was obsessed with daily audience ratings, tracking responses to storylines and characters. The quarterly audience focus groups were thrilling — I would avidly watch the audience through one-way glass as they passionately discussed the characters and storylines. These findings were analyzed in the writers room, and we generated storylines and character arcs from there. It made me realize the impact TV has on an audience, how it shapes people’s opinions and how they view their world. It’s a powerful medium, to be used responsibility.

Q: What other projects would you like to tell us about?

I’m working with Lisa D’Apolito on the Gilda Radner documentary LOVE Gilda, a partnership which came about as a result of Joanne’s
career development workshop. Thanks, Joanne, for being instrumental in 
forging new and flourishing working relationships. I’m in production on the next season of
Wonderama, a reboot of the kids’ shows that many New Yorkers watched in​ the 1960’s & ’70s. I have several projects in development, difficult to talk about until green light, but hopefully will be working on a beach again soon.

Q: What is one instance of knowing you are living in your vision?

When I know people are watching my shows and discussing them on social media. 

Q: If there were no barriers to entry, what is one thing you would be doing?

Producing my next drama series — there’s one in development, watch this space.

Q: What has been big your biggest obstacle in achieving your vision?

Though I have had 15 years in South Africa as a producer then executive producer-showrunner on scripted and unscripted shows, relocating to the U.S. was in some ways like starting over in terms of making contacts and building a new network. After three years I am now at a point where I’m making inroads into the industry, thanks in part to the support of the PGA (Producers Guild) and NYWIFT.

Q: What do you do to stay connected to your creative self?

Running. Long distance walking. Being in nature.

Q: If you could let go of something that has held you back, what would it be?

My high heels!

Q: What is your favorite piece of art?

The mesmerizing architecture of NYC.  Follow me on Instagram at rubyrocket100!

Q: What person do you most admire, living or dead?

Nelson Mandela. Leaders of today could learn a lot from him.

Q: If you could be known and celebrated for one thing, what would it be?

Making shows that inspire and entertain.

Q: If you could describe yourself in one word what would it be?

Sunny.

Q: What is your guilty pleasure?

Trawling consignment stores.

Q: If you could sit down with yourself 15 years ago, what would you say?

Go live in New York today!

Q: Where would you most like to live?

I love living in Brooklyn, even walking to the subway in the morning fills me with joy. However, I would like to live near the ocean someday.

Q: What is your idea of success?

Identifying and then accomplishing your dreams.

Q: What is your idea of happiness?

Being with the people I love.

Q: Final Thoughts?

Thank you to all the people I have met over the last three years who have supported and encouraged me on this journey in a new land. You are greatly valued and appreciated!
 

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