Viola Davis and Julius Tennon on Work-Life Balance in Hollywood – The Hollywood Reporter


At the annual Produced By conference in Los Angeles on Saturday morning, Viola Davis and Julius Tennon spoke about their work under their JuVee Productions banner and the need for better work-life balance in the industry.

The extensive conversation, sponsored by The Hollywood Reporter, was hosted by Yvette Nicole Brown who introduced the duo. Both received a standing ovation from the Commissioner’s Room on Fox Field in Century City.

Davis and Tennon began their JuVee shingle in 2011 with a mandate to produce high-profile projects, across film, television and beyond, from underrepresented voices.

“The talent is there but the hardware isn’t and after a while you have to be the change you wanted to see,” Davis said of the decision to cast JuVee. She added: “I didn’t want to see another story where I mourn over the body of my dead son after he died in a drive-by shooting.”

“Over the past five years, things have started to skyrocket,” said Tennon, who presented his slate of film, television, non-fiction and digital titles. JuVee has a first deal with Amazon Studios for film and TV with a slate of upcoming projects that includes The Woman King. TriStar Pictures’ historical epic, which Davis called her “magnum opus,” sees the Oscar-winning actress play a general in the Kingdom of Dahomey, one of Africa’s most powerful states in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Regarding the state of production, Tennon spoke of a need for more kindness, compassion, and understanding in the entertainment industry, including on sets and in the workplace. “It’s time for us to think more about these things,” Tennon said. “We need to find a way to reduce those hours to increase productivity.”

Asked about creating a personal work-life balance, Davis replied, “I haven’t figured it out yet,” adding, “We live in a culture where our ideology is based on work. We find ourselves exhausted.

Davis applied the thinking to Hollywood, noting that work doesn’t need to include a “135-hour week” and that the industry needs to foster a space where talent, both above and below line, can express their wants and needs in the workplace. .

She said, “This is my biggest complaint about the business as an artist: there is no sacred space to share. We are not creating a sacred space.

The Produced By conference runs June 11-12, featuring speakers like Eva Longoria, Chris Miller, and Dan Lin.


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