18 Jan pamela robinson.
los angeles, california. | reality tv producer. jokester. daughter. sister. aunt.
There are very few people who can keep up with the Stepleton family on a dance floor. Our large crew tends to get swept up in each other’s energy and we dance until dawn in our family’s swaying circle of trust. I knew Pamela Robinson was a mover and shaker from the tales told by my three brothers. They said Pammy was one of us—and they were right. This lovely lady is a dancing queen with the energy of five people.
Pamela Robinson is known for her kindness, strong work ethic, witty banter, creativity, and serious dance moves. She is a successful television producer who took some time out of her busy schedule to share some advice on how to get into the business of show. Enjoy!
How did you choose your career and was it a conscious decision?
I didn’t choose to become a reality TV producer per se, but I certainly chose to be in the film and TV industry. Ever since I was a small child I wanted to be in the entertainment business. Watching loads of “I Love Lucy” thrust me into the comic world and instilled a burning desire to make people laugh and connect to others on a broad scope. I focused that energy into acting classes as a kid and then soon realized I HATE memorizing lines. I HATE IT! Improv no problem, but using my voice for someone else’s words to memory was totally not my thing. Not long after, I realized that I should be behind the camera and not in front. I put myself through film school and it was the first time in my life that I completely fit in. This was my path and there was no other thing I could imagine doing. But as they say in the business, “you have to pay your dues.” And boy, did I! After graduating in four years (no small feat there either), I struggled to find work and finally after three years not even really working in the business, I moved from Chicago to LA. I had to start all over and was a production assistant. I did features, spec commercials, web content, short films, and reality. The only place that consistently hired me for long-term gigs was reality TV, so I ended up focusing my energy there and moved up the ranks fairly quickly. I needed to pay the bills and was happy it was still in the entertainment industry so I took a leap of faith and continued that path.
Describe a typical day at the office. What is the most enjoyable part of your day? Is there anything about your work you dread?
The best part about my job is that there is no typical day. One day I could be in northern Minnesota in the dead of winter riding on a snowmobile while it’s negative 40 out prepping before we have to start shooting, and then I could be Hawaii running crew to capture a veterinarian saving a horse whose rear end was completely gashed open. To put it simply, if my job sucks, I know it’ll end anywhere from a month to six months. I’m freelance so every day is different and every job is different. What I dread most is jumping onto a show and realizing some of the colleagues are incompetent, making my workload that much more.
Can you share a few projects that you have worked on?
I got my start in reality TV working on “Giuliana and Bill.” I worked on that since its inception and they kept me on for five seasons until I decided to part ways and move onto other shows like, “Wild West Alaska” and “Sons of Guns.” My last two shows I’ve worked on are called “Hacking The System” and “Aloha Vet.” They will be airing in January 2015 and spring 2015 respectively.
Was there a fork in the road that distinctly determined your lifestyle and/ or career?
There are forks in the road all the time that could change my life forever. Each job opportunity does that to me if it’s a big job that I really want but if we’re talking major forks, I’m actually at a pretty big fork in the road right now. Reality TV has never been my end game, just the starting point for me. I’d like to make meaningful content that I personally enjoy and that means me moving out of reality TV and getting into the scripted world and/or feature length films. That is no easy task. The problem I face, and many other colleagues of mine, is making that transition. The TV and film world is so compartmentalized, once you get into a genre, it’s hard to move out of that into something else. It’s like being type casted. Even in the reality TV world it breaks down into genres. Anyone looking at my resume wouldn’t hire me to do a competition show like “Top Chef.” They look at my body of work and see that I mainly do male-skewed action/adventure shows and figure that’s all I can do. I’m happy with the genre I do. It’s a lot of fun but it doesn’t soothe my soul and it’s not what I hoped for when I was a little kid. So I need to take some big risks and that comes into the form of turning down jobs and working on my own projects and reconnecting with folks in different genres of the industry. It’s a scary thought to leave a comfortable lifestyle and sort of start over again but not taking that chance is even scarier. So, I leap …
If you could tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?
Screw college. Move to LA as soon as you graduate high school, start PAing on anything you can get and do everything you can to get on a scripted TV show or on feature length films.
What is the best advice you can give to someone who wishes to go into the television industry?
Screw college. Move to LA as soon as you graduate high school, start PAing on anything you can until you land yourself on a TV show. Network like crazy and always tell the people you work with what you would like to be and show that you are capable and hardworking enough to be able to get there. No one can read your mind so if you want to be a director of photography or a producer or a director you need to let the people that are doing those things that you also want to do that. Ask them for advice on how they got there. If you’re not an asshole and get things done, and they’re not an asshole and get things done, they’ll be more than happy to give you some tips. Maybe not a job but at least enough to learn from them.
What is your best advice on how to live a graceful life?
I don’t think it’s possible for me to offer advice on living life gracefully. I think I’ve done quite the opposite and lived life really, really hard with two left feet. I’ve fumbled and stumbled all the way through it and will most likely continue to do so but I guess the point is I’ve kept moving forward. It may not look pretty but hey, life can be some real shit. So screw it, just keep picking yourself up moving those feet along. Without a doubt, you better soak up the scenery and enjoy the hell out of your moments. You’d be foolish not to.
j. jane side note:
This photograph features Pamela with my sweet baby brother John Paul, aka Tex, aka Sweet Baby J.