Bravo TV's Deirdre Connolly is Executive Producer of Bravo’s popular late night show Watch What Happens Live, Deirdre Connolly is a proud Irish American with fond memories of visiting Castlegregory in County Kerry growing up. She even had her Kerry cousins on the show for St. Patrick’s Day.
Connolly works for Sony Pictures Entertainment owned production company, Embassy Row. The company specializes in the genres of games, comedy, reality, factual, and sports and have done some pioneering work with brand-supported and digital content. Some of the shows developed and produced by the company include The Glee Project, Watch What Happens Live, Bates Motel and Fashion Queen.
How did your career in TV start?
“I have a mother who’s really direct, she asked a woman she knew from her gallery who worked in MTV (coincidentially whose parents happened to be from County Clare) if she could get me an interview in MTV. So I got an interview, moved to New York and 15 years later I am still here working in television.” “I’m not going to be shy about this. My mom is a connector.” Connolly’s mother Maureen is one half of the well known Irish American couple, owners of the Aisling Gallery.
Have your Irish roots helped you get where you are?
My Irishness got me started. It’s a great icebreaker I grew up in a very supportive community that helped each other out. The Irish here bonded together to become successful. I actually used my Irish passport to move to the UK for two years to work for MTV to help launch Total Request Live UK.
How did you land a job on MTV?
I watched a lot of TV and loved MTV. But I didn’t know that it could be a career. I was a political science major out of Boston College. I had interned for Ted Kennedy in my final college year and was planning to move to DC. I remember one of my first jobs as an assistant at MTV was to go to Nobu, at the time one of the hottest restaurants in New York to do a special pick up of food for Mariah Carey and she didn’t touch one morsel! It was just so beyond my frame of experience. I was working in the production events department which was a dream job for any 22 year old.
How did your TV career develop?
It really connected with me as a real career path though in 2001 when I was working on Total Request Live. I loved the live TV aspect. It really suits my personality. I am a procrastinator by nature, it has to happen right now if it’s going to happen. I really excelled at that.
Then I guess I just outgrew MTV as a viewer. I found I was watching Bravo. So five years ago I was the first producer on Watch What Happens Live show. I started the show. We were broadcasting one night per week, then two and then five nights per week. I also produce Fashion Queens.
I work for Embassy Row, the production company behind a number of shows on Bravo. Embassy Row is a New York City-based global format and digital production company that develops original concepts and adapts international formats for television networks, online and wireless distribution in the U.S. and around the world. The company is run by Michael Davies, who has been a real mentor to me in my career.
What does the future hold for TV?
TV is on demand and is taking cues from the music industry and how that has evolved. One thing I would say is that the TV industry needs to stop resisting change so hard and not to feel threatened. This is not the death of TV. There will always be a need for content, how people consume content might change. With Bravo and Watch What Happens Live we have seen a real resurgence in live TV. Social media allows us to really engage in a deep and immediate way with live events. This has led to increased audiences.
What advice would you have for other managers or business leaders?
Create an environment that is fun and where people can take pride in their work. Make people feel important and valued. Learn to trust in other people’s abilities and empower them to be successful. There is a lot of strength in admitting you have shortcomings. I take my mentoring responsibilities very seriously. I don’t have an ego about recognizing other people’s skills. I want to provide opportunities for my team to grow and learn. I can watch TV shows and know that’s a fun place to work and vice versa.
Deirdre Connolly is a member of the Senior Board of the IIBN and will be participating in OpportUnity this November in New York.
OpportUnity is a one day sympsosium, bringing together the most successful leaders of the Irish business and political community, harnessing the collective power of our international network, identifying ways to work together,
Together we can change the world in ways that are not achievable alone.
OpportUnity is one day of engaging presentations by prominent speakers, thought leaders in areas of common interest.
OpportUnity will connect you with like-minded professionals who share a commitment to building the strongest business network in the world.
OpportUnity to show the world that the Irish culture of today is one that Unites—not divides.
Get your tickets here.