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Tracey Edmonds to Lead Our Stories Films


Tracey Edmonds to Lead Our Stories Films
Appointment marks 1st black to head a studio

By Joyce Jones

Aug. 31, 2006 -- Tracey Edmonds, whose credits include producing films such as Soul Food and the first African American reality series, BET’s College Hill , was named president and chief operating officer of Our Stories Films.

In July, BET founder Robert L. Johnson, owner of RLJ Cos., and veteran filmmakers Bob and Harvey Weinstein, announced the creation of the studio, which will make family friendly, African American comedies. Edmonds’ appointment marks the first time that an African American has headed a film studio.
“It’s easy to be first when the system has prevented other African Americans from pursuing opportunities,” Johnson says.

Several talented candidates were interviewed, but only Edmonds had the three most important qualifications Johnson and the Weinstein’s sought.

“First, Edmonds stood out because she has such a strong creative background, which has allowed her to build her company into a very significant producer of original material for cable and movie studios. Second, she’s run her own business so she knows how to manage a bottom line. And third, she has a very extensive Rolodex, which gives her access to the top creative people in the industry,” says Johnson. “So, she basically has the full package we were looking for and is an eloquent spokesperson for the concept of Our Stories.”

For 10 years, Edmonds has been president and CEO of Edmonds Entertainment Group and owns an independent film production company, e2 filmworks. She serves on the Producers Guild of America’s board of governors and has been one of two African Americans to sit on the board of the Recording Industry Association of America.

Edmonds may be best known for Soul Food, her first feature film, which was produced for just $7 million and grossed more than $43 million, and was adapted by Showtime for a cable series. Producing similarly low-budget, high grossing films will be her mandate at Our Stories Films. Edmonds also created and produced Lil Kim: Countdown to Lockdown and is currently producing Good Luck Chuck , a Lions Gate romantic comedy starring Jessica Alba.

“I think she’s a great choice on a lot of levels,” says Jannette Dates, dean of Howard University’s John H. Johnson School of Communications. “No. 1, she and her husband did Soul Food and did a really excellent job. It was one of the most in-depth portrayals of African Americans that I’ve seen. Being the person who was in charge of that gives a lot of credibility to her ability to tell our stories in other situations beyond what she did with Soul Food .”

Although its doors have yet to formally open, Our Stories has already received several scripts says Johnson whose diverse portfolio of businesses includes the NBA Charlotte Bobcats, hotels, and a bank.

“I’ll bet Edmonds will read every script that has some remote potential,” says Johnson, who will have the final say on what gets produced. But first, she has to hire a staff of approximately eight to 10 executives who will help her manage the company. Directors, producers, writers and others on the talent side of the business will be brought on as needed. Johnson anticipates that Our Stories will release its first film in 2007. Edmonds was traveling and wasn’t immediately available to comment for this story.

“My role in most businesses I start is to provide the vision or concept, put together the capital structure and I usually want to have a strategic partner in the deal. We have the Weinsteins,” Johnson says. “I’ve done that, so now my job is to help Edmonds in every way I can to make the right movies with the right budget, and oversee distribution with the Weinsteins.”

Copyright © 2006 Earl G. Graves, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

I remember when she and her husband first started with Hav Plenty, and she has come a long way since then. Go head sister


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