Attorney, Author, Actress, & Creative Producer Juanita Ingram Breaks Barriers with Expat Docuseries Tuesday, July 13th 2021, 1:38 PM EDT
By Dendy Media Today we’d like to introduce you to Juanita Ingram, Esq. It’s an honor to speak with you today. Why don’t you give us some details about you and your story. How did you get to where you are today? My name is Juanita Ingram, Esq. and I am a multi-hyphenate attorney, author, actress, creative producer, and fashion philanthropist. I started out as in theatre as a child at the insistence of my mother who is a professional musician. Originally, from Chattanooga, Tennessee, I am a licensed attorney with a JD/MBA from the University of Memphis and an BA in Accounting from Tennessee, State University. I have been an Expat since 2011; living in London for almost five years, Taiwan for the last two years, and I am relocating to Singapore this summer. I always love performing and once we moved to London, I took a break from the traditional practice of law and decided to go back into the field of performing arts. I auditioned in London, was signed by an agency, and was eventually casted in an independent feature film where I later received a nomination Best Actress award by the British Urban Film Festival. This led me to pursue opportunities in front of, and later behind, the camera. In 2018, I started Purpose Productions Inc, a 501(c)3 black women-founded and led production company with a mission of empowering women and putting forth narratives of marginalized and underrepresented people of colour. I now have a show that I independently created and produced, which is currently distributed on Amazon Prime Video, that showcases positive images of black people living abroad. I’m sure your success has not come easily. What challenges have you had to overcome along the way? My background is that of a corporate and entertainment lawyer and after having clients in the unscripted genre, I saw that there was a niche that needed to be filled. Expat life has never been shown, explored, or depicted. There was also the need for a new narrative that set forth positive images of blackness and redefined how people of color appeared in global spaces. We are currently on the voting ballot for the Primetime Emmy nomination and we are hopeful to receive this external validation of the quality of our work. It is rare that programs which are completely black-owned/produced and self-funded make it onto the Emmy nomination ballot. We underwent an extensive vetting process by the Television Academy to earn the right to be an Emmy- eligible program; so regardless of whether we receive it or not, I am encouraged by the numerous film festival and industry awards that our series has accumulated since debuting this year which includes two Telly Awards, The Webby Awards 2021 Honoree, International Black Diversity & Inclusion Film Festival Best Series Award, and the Christian Film Festival Best Series/ Best Series for Families Awards. Let’s talk about the work you do. What do you specialize in and why should someone work with you over the competition? Being African-American and choosing to live abroad is always steeped in changes, but today the racial and viral pandemics have placed the topic of living as an expat front and center. This series tackles tough and relatable issues in an educational yet entertaining way all while breaking stereotypes and increasing a more inclusive representation of expats of color. Our show is strategically breaking into a new category within unscripted television. So often African-Americans are narrowly portrayed in a one dimensional and talent-limiting manner. We are not a monolith, yet the majority of unscripted shows portrays us as hostile, dysfunctional, angry, violent, and stereotyped by repetitive storylines. Our innovative show seeks to not only shed light on a new lifestyle that has never been showcased, but also seeks to break the numerous negative stereotypes while utilizing edutainment as the foundation of our program being both educational and entertaining (a phrase coined by the Black Panthers in the 1970s). The show covers everything from navigating new cultures, Black Lives Matter abroad, and COVID-19 in Asia. Season 2 of the show is currently in production. The intention of THE EXPATS is to shed light on the dynamic, dramatic, beautiful, and unpredictable life of EXPAT families; as well as educate and introduce new places and experiences to families. It is also vitally important that we control our own narrative as depicted in professional and entertainment matters. I wanted to ensure that we gave a genuine and authentic depiction of the experiences shared. What’s your best piece of advice for readers who desire to find success in their life? My greatest advice is to follow your dreams no matter the obstacles no matter the challenges. Have the courage to dream and dream big! We film the show in the middle of a COVID pandemic, in a country that I was fairly new to the language and cultural barriers. There are many times that as a woman executive producer and director, I dealt with chauvinism and internal conflicts that required me to reject and overcome on my own in order to bring this program to a competitive reality, while working within a very male-dominated industry. I had to overcome numerous challenging situations that were influenced both by me being female and being an African-American. You must believe in yourself, your vision, and your project when others do not. I met with one group in Taiwan and the male leader of the organization that told me to my face that there was no audience for a show like mine that no one wanted to see black people in Asia on their TV screens. Needless to say, he was wrong and with over 3 million streams and hundreds of positive reviews, I am glad that I did not get discouraged and stayed the course in pursuing my dreams. Overcoming these challenges has undoubtedly made me a better leader and a better producer. I have been strengthened and empowered by the struggles and the complexity of the work. Speaking of success, what does the word mean to you? Success means doing what God has purposed you to uniquely accomplish; while leaving a legacy/impact for generations to come. As the Founder & CEO of Purpose Productions, Inc. (a 501(c)3 black women-led production company), I wanted to create a new subcategory within the genre of “smart reality docuseries” that utilizes the philosophy of edutainment to provide content that was not only extremely entertaining, educational and empowering; offering a positive, family-friendly, and immensely entertaining depiction of black expats. I also sought to directly combat the often negative and distorted representation of the lives and reality of black people and black families. The series challenges dangerous stereotypes by setting forth an alternative paradigm by moving forward a positive, informative, and entertaining depiction of the black family and those who are electing to live abroad. The series will open up a world of opportunities for viewers seeking to explore options of living aboard in this new post-covid19 norm. It has been such a humbling and amazing honor to have our Indie series recognized, qualified, and awarded from such esteemed industry professionals it was worth every challenging moment to produce as we are seeking to break stereotypes and have a positive impact on our communities everywhere. We are beyond appreciative of how this program has been so well received and supported! What’s next for you? Due to the growing international demand for the show, we are expanding our distribution of Season 1 of The Expats International Ingram in order to reach a broader global audience (beyond the US and UK) and generate more streaming proceeds to empower women. On Juneteenth weekend, I launched my own streaming platform (www.purpose-streaming.com) making our show content accessible anywhere in the world including Asia, Europe, Australia, and Africa! Portions of the show’s proceeds will be donated to fight poverty and empower women through Dress for Success Greater London and Dress for Success Chattanooga. We are committed to creating opportunities through film and visual content that will change the established systemic discriminatory paradigm and the marginalization of women and people of color worldwide that is ever-present in media. Film and the arts have always been and remain powerful tools to help bring about social change. Finally, how can people connect with you if they want to learn more. Follow us on all social media platforms @iamjuanitaingram @expatsshow @purpose.productions www.pourposeproduction.org www.iamjuanitaingram.com www.expatsshow.com You can also stream the show on Amazon Prime Video US and UK; or stream it in other locations on www.purpose-streaming.com Purpose Productions is also a conduit for sharing a balanced depiction of diverse cultures and powerful under-represented narratives while serving to foster educational and cross-cultural exposure for global audiences. We use our content to cultivate a broader and deeper perspective on pressing global issues through our past, present, and future projects. With our current and future pipeline of projects, we create job opportunities for local film industry talent in various global settings. Our goal is to create media by women, about women, but for everyone. Our vision is a massive presence of powerful projects that drive audiences to make the world a better place through purposeful action and understanding.