Tammy Reese is an influential media personality and an award-winning content creator, producer, writer, and celebrity interviewer. She is also the founder of Visionary Minds Media and Tammy Reese Media. Reese’s career began when she joined The Media Unit TV and Stage production company at 12 years old.
For eight years, she traveled and performed over 60 live stage show a year and hosted a public access TV program, “Rough Times Live.” She then moved into theatre, starring in many classic musicals like “Dream Girls” before venturing into video and indie film acting.
Tammy Reese has also covered an array of international film festivals such as the Sundance Film Festival 2021, 93rd Academy Awards 2021, Black Music Honors Press, and more.
Tammy Reese has also written and directed short films Writing and Directing short films on social issues to spread awareness through the arts gained Tammy the Makers: Women Who Make America Award honor on International Women’s Day 2019. Tammy currently serves on the Communications Committee for New York Women In Film and Television.
This week, we had the privilege of interviewing Tammy Reese, as we spoke about her career journey so far, what she aspires to pursue in the upcoming years, and how her childhood impacted her to be the person that she is today.
Eman: How has your childhood impacted you to become the person you are today?
Tammy Reese: Growing up on the South Side of Syracuse I grew up in an area where the Rico law came down hard on violence and drugs. I was one of the few in the neighborhood whose parents were together and owned their home.
Many people I grew up with dying too young from violence are what shaped me into who I am today. As the mother of a young black male, I refuse for my child to get caught up in a life of gangs, violence, or drugs. Losing friends so young was a wake-up call to want better in life and not put myself in any situation that is not good for me.
Also, being raised by my dad (an Army veteran) and my mom who was a civil rights advocate and activist shaped me into who I am today. My parents showed me a path to have empathy, mindfulness, and respect for others because life is too short and we all should treat others the way we would like to be treated. I was raised by amazing parents who always encouraged me to not let anyone or anything stop me from following my dreams and to be selfless and be the best I can be during this human experience.
Eman: Being a woman of color working in the media industry, have you ever faced any hurdles or setbacks? If yes, then how did you overcome them?
Tammy Reese: Absolutely, I’ve dealt with rebranding, starting over, leaving business partners, losing friends. I’ve dealt with opportunities not going as planned. I’ve dealt with hearing a lot of no’s. The hardest hurdle was losing my mother in January 2020 and literally wanting to quit the industry and live a normal and quiet life without being bothered by the outside world. The pain almost took me out.
How I overcame it was with my faith, my fiance, my family, my true tribe, and remembering how strong and accomplished my mom was. I remembered how much she supported me and believed in me and all she had overcome. I know in my soul, she would not want me to give up or quit. After I was ready I began to thrive in the digital media world. I think to myself every day that I know how proud my mom is of me.
Eman: Did you always wanted to become a media professional or did you stumble upon this career pursuit by accident?
Tammy Reese: Yes! I’ve always wanted to be in this industry. Anything having to do with entertainment and media I was always so here for it since I was a kid. I hosted the school morning news in elementary school. Then I joined a company in Syracuse, NY called The Media Unit. I was in the company for eight years before I became a member of the Board of Directors.
I would act in over 60 live stage shows a year and host and direct a live TV Show called “Rough Times Live” out of our public access tv station. Eventually, I went to Empire State College and obtained my degree in media and the rest is history. The Media Unit was the stepping stone to allow me to be the multimedia powerhouse that I am today.
Eman: Is there something or someone you look up to? If yes, then who or what is it?
Tammy Reese: My parents will always be who I look up to, but if I have to list folks within the media and entertainment industry I would say, Tamron Hall, Courtney Kemp, Taraji P Henson, and Nia DaCosta. All these amazing women of color have broken barriers and are such an inspiration to so many women today.
Eman: Any future projects you’re working on that you’d like to announce or are they confidential until further notice?
Tammy Reese: Thanks so much for asking. I am a podcast co-host for New York Women In Film and Television. Stay tuned for new episodes of our podcast coming this fall. Also, I am a podcast co-host for a brand new podcast called Digital Media Insights With Tammy and Imran we are a few episodes in.
As Founder and Lead Publicist at Visionary Minds Public Relations and Media, I will continue to give my clients the ultimate multimedia experience to enhance their brand and media portfolios. Stay tuned for more celebrity and influencer interviews, digital media content, and soon enough I will be back to filming my own content that is geared toward social awareness and people of color.
Eman: What is the best thing about being a media professional?
Tammy Reese: The obvious answer to so many on the outside looking in would be the access I have to celebrities and industry events. Which honestly is a major honor and dream come true. However, I love interviewing small business owners, upcoming talents, and everyday people making a social change or doing positive work in the world on so many levels that inspire and empower so many people.
I love telling stories. I think interviewing and writing is such a powerful art form. We can educate, inspire, change the world and make a difference. My calling and purpose are to be a storyteller. Being a media professional allows me to do so much and conquer some of my wildest dreams.
Eman: What has been the best memory of your career so far?
Tammy Reese: There are way too many epic moments for me to name, but when Megan Good-Franklin shouted me twice on her Facebook page to her over 5million followers after I interviewed her, hands down is my best memory.
There are so many people I watched growing up and adored their talent and then having the blessing to interview them are lifelong memories I will never forget. Such as interviewing Leon, Slim, and Mike from 112, Christopher “Play” Martin, Donell Jones, Geena Davis, Ginuwine, Omar Epps, Carmen Electra, Giancarlo Esposito, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Claudia Wells, Heather Langenkamp, Miko Hughes, Marion Ramsey, Tony Todd, Terry Kiser, and so many more.
Also, covering industry events and conferences as press for The Academy Awards, Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, Black Music Honors, Urban One Honors, NJ Horror Con, NYC Horror Film Festival, HBO /Cinemax Urban Action Showcase Expo, TV One, Lifetime Networks, and Starz to name a few.
Lastly but not least I would say being honored on International Women’s Day at the Women’s Rights National Historical Park with the WCNY/PBS Makers: Women Who Make America Award was an honor that is indescribable to explain being honored for my work in such a profound way that moved me beyond words.
Tammy Reese: This is an amazing question. I would go back in time and tell my past self, you’re stronger than you think you are. You are braver than anyone thinks you are and you always adapt to everything. Even at the moment during the sad times, you always get through it all because you are your mother’s daughter and you are so special and magnificent.
Eman: What is the one piece of advice you’d like to give to aspiring media professionals out there?
Tammy Reese: Remember that the media industry is so universal. You can be a media pro in the digital media space, you can have a podcast, you can have a blog, a newsletter, magazine, radio or tv show, and more. There are so many platforms to tap into if you want to be a media pro.
Live in your truth and remember to always tell the truth. Being a media professional comes with a lot of responsibility because you are amplifying the voices of others, not only yourself. Dream big and enjoy every moment. Every wins no matter how big or small is a win. Go for it!
Eman: What does true urban culture mean to you?
Tammy Reese: When I think of True Urban Culture, I think about where I grew up..in the hood. Not being embarrassed at all by saying that either. Even if I was a middle-class family who owned our house in the hood.
I still grew up in the hood. The environment taught me to be aware of everything which has helped me be safe in life so far these past 35 years. I learned life lessons that I feel only true urban culture could have taught me and I am thankful.