Everyone else can complain about the state of reality television. Kaira Akita is busy working to transform the genre into a medium of empowerment. After seven years of working as a professional actress, Akita has taken her first big step as a producer, launching her production company, Reality Revolution.
If Akita looks familiar, you may have caught her work in TV series and films including: Drop Dead Diva, Meet the Browns, The Family That Preys, and Why Did I Get Married? Entrepreneurship was the natural next step for the spirited talent. She’s been running small businesses since the age of 17, and always approached her creative career with the mindset of a CEO.
Turning away from the opportunities offered by the explosion of reality television wasn’t an option for her. But, neither was following the model of exploitive drama the genre is known for. I asked Akita about her plans to leverage the platform to bring healing and empowerment to at-risk communities.
Madame Noire (MN): Some Hollywood actresses turn their nose up at reality television. Why did you want to get involved in this genre?
Kaira Akita: Seventy percent of primetime TV watchers are watching reality TV programming, so it is a huge platform that’s here to stay. Instead of complaining about it, I want to be a part of the shift to take the medium in a new direction. Entertainment works in cycles. Audiences will eventually grow weary of the “train wreck” reality and want content with more substance. More importantly, reality TV is shaping an entire generation of women, minorities, and young people — teaching them they can become famous and profit from pure dysfunction. This has such dangerous personal and social implications, especially to black culture, and I want to add more alternatives to show a different type of reality — still entertaining, but with integrity and the power to transform.
MN: Tell me about Reality Revolution. What falls under the umbrella of this brand?
KA: Reality Revolution is a production company and social movement based in Los Angeles and Atlanta. We create entertaining, inspiring, and life-changing reality TV and social action campaigns for women, minorities, teens, and other exploited and at-risk demographics. Reality Revolution shows what reality TV can be – a platform for personal, social, and cultural change. For us, it’s more than just entertainment. We also create ongoing social action campaigns that address the topics we explore in our shows through special events, partnerships, celebrity ambassadors, and more.
MN: Why was it important to include a social action component?
KA: Entertainment is such a powerful platform. It’s not only reflecting what’s going on in society, it’s shaping it too. As a producer, I personally feel a social and spiritual responsibility to use reality TV as a medium for social awareness and change. It’s simply who I am and so it had to be a part of my brand.
MN: What projects do you have in the works? When are they scheduled to debut?
KA: Our first project in development, Raising Roses, follows a team of fabulous, self-made women who, after overcoming their own challenges, join forces with a celebrity host to transform out-of-control teen bad girls on all levels. We are currently shopping the project to networks and are hoping to sell and debut the show later this year.
MN: What’s your opinion on the current lineup of reality TV?
KA: I mean this in love: It’s not a network problem, it’s an audience problem. Audiences are driving the current slate and blaming the networks for what they see. Unfortunately, TV is a business. You watch, they air. You don’t watch, they don’t air. If we want to see more variety in the lineup, particularly for black reality TV, we have to be just as vocal about what we want to see as what we “say” we don’t want to see. And let’s be real. A lot of what’s on is really entertaining. But at some point we have to diversify because it impacts the black community differently than it does the white community. Our community is in crisis, whether we want to admit it or not. And reality TV is such a huge part of our culture now, we need more options to tell diverse stories and realities.