Nkechi Okoro Carroll On Pitching Projects In Hollywood: 'You've Earned Your Spot In The Room, Now It's About Being YOU'

The All-American: Homecoming creator offered sound advice for film & television creatives at ESSENCE Hollywood House.

For new and rising creatives climbing the ladder to success in Hollywood, knowing the right moves to make when pitching a television or film project is a crucial step towards realizing the dream of taking your content from the page to the screen for the first time.

To see more of what you missed from ESSENCE Hollywood House, watch the entire show HERE.

During the 2022 ESSENCE Hollywood House, All-American showrunner and All-American: Homecoming creator Nkechi Okoro Carroll joined Executive Producer and Content Creator Steve Jones in a refreshingly enlightening conversation presented by WB about key things to keep in mind when the opportunity to preparing to package and pitch your projects.

Photo by Phylicia J. Munn

Kicking the panel off on a high note with an encouraging word of song that had the entire Hollywood House audience singing along, Steve offered solid advice to the crowd: never give up. “If I could give you one piece of advice, do not quit” he said. “Understand your “why,” and when you understand your why, there will be not a door that will close in your face that will stop you from pursuing your goals.”

After sharing a little of her personal and “non-traditional” career journey into film & television, Nkechi revealed that All American: Homecoming was the ninth pilot that she’d sold to a network, but the first to actually be green lit and make it on air.

Photo by Phylicia J. Munn

“There came a point where I had to bet on myself. And I suddenly realized that as successful as I’d become at pitching shows and selling them in the room, I wasn’t getting to the next level because maybe I wasn’t at the right place. Which meant, I would have to leave a deal I was on—that means regular pay, that means electricity, car note, food—I would have to leave that to take a chance somewhere else that I felt was a better fit for me and the content I wanted to create. And that was when I left Twentieth Century Fox and joined Warner Brothers.”

She later credited her village with keeping her going in the midst of rejection and self-doubt.

“I always say it takes a village to raise a writer and, that is the truth,” Nkechi noted. “Full disclosure, there have been times where I was literally fully dressed in the fetal position in my empty bathtub like, “I’m not supposed to be doing this. What is happening?” Am I just supposed to be this soldier that can make other people’s ideas a reality? Am I that person that’s just really good at executing? Am I just a producer and not a writer? Of course, all those thoughts enter your head, rejection after rejection. It’s moments like that when you lose faith that the people around you need to be able to hold that faith for you. My husband held that faith for me, my best friends held that faith for me, my agents, my manager. This is an industry that will try your faith, your patience…all of it. But, if you’re surrounded by people that can hold you up at those moments, that’s how you survive.”

Photo by Phylicia J, Munn

Later in the discussion, Steve noted the importance of having points of differentiation in your pitch process to allow you to stand out from other creatives. Responding to an audience question about tips for transitioning from creating on the indie circuit to pitching in Hollywood, Nkechi also encouraged the audience to stay true to what makes them unique.

“You’ve landed in the room because something about your content, something about your writing, something about your reel, has attracted them,” she said. “You’ve earned your spot in the room. Now it’s about being you. It’s about what’s so unique and fantastic about you that they want to be in the business of you. Because once they want to be in the business of you, I promise you, they’ll find the opportunity. Even if you don’t have the right one, they’ll be like, ‘Ok, but WE have the right one.'”

The pair also spoke on not being afraid to bet on yourself, putting in the work to perfect your craft while you maintain a full-time job to pay your bills, and much more. Check out the full conversation in the video above. To see more of what you missed from ESSENCE Hollywood House, watch the entire show HERE.