Changing Lives Through Positive Media
changing lives and helping others in need. Monica: Would you mind talking about Janee Harrell and what her life’s purpose is?
She has an infectious, positive attitude that uplifts every person that she comes in contact with. Janeé Harrell, a seasoned television producer thrives on delivering programming that is positive and authentic. She is determined to help change the world of television by producing and promoting innovative shows that have a powerful impact on viewers and the guests that she interviews. Through her production company, mHe3 Productions, Harrell is constantly developing programs that inspire others to change their lives and give back to their communities. Prior to her television production career, Harrell worked in senior positions at various corporations including Southwest Airlines and Option One Mortgage. Some other positions have included motivational speaking and working as a public relations and performance consultant. She is currently an actress and model. Harrell shared with Exceptional People Magazine, her commitment to having a positive influence on television viewers, while simultaneously
Janeé: I am a woman on an international media mission -- really to transform the face of media. What I mean by that is we are committed to authentic positive programming. Many naysayers in Los Angeles say that it can't be done; that we will never make any money. I started this mission around the age of five or six when I got my first microphone and I would go around the neighborhood reporting my neighbors' stories and wrote my first little newspaper. So, I've always wanted to do that. Unfortunately, some things happened in my life, and my gift of performing was really used to cover up some of the pain. And during those tough times, I really was looking for media to make me. I lived in Los Angeles in the 1990s. I did a lot of great things but really struggled with self-esteem and ended up struggling with anorexia. I got out of the entertainment industry and went into motivational speaking and after 10-plus years of doing that, I realized that I still had a passion for media, but now I wanted to do it to make a difference. Monica: Do you think that being in the media or entertainment industry had something to do with some of the problems that you were experiencing at that time?
open yourself up to more criticism. I remember being 87 pounds and having an agent in LA tell me that I didn't look that thin. Well, I'm 5'4". That's very underweight. So it was that kind of scrutiny that, at the time, I didn't feel strong enough to say, “You know what? This is too thin.” Now I'm very comfortable with who I am and I have my own voice. But I think that public scrutiny plays a role for sure. I realized about four years ago that I still had this passion for media but I wanted to use it to make a difference. When I was going through those rough times, I didn't see a whole lot of positive, thought-provoking programs. There are talk shows that help people. You can see people who have made it to the other side of their journey, but there was nothing to really walk people through life's journey in a meaningful way. So that's when we shot a 30-second promo, not even a pilot, for our first show, Tour of Giving, where we highlight people making a difference through giving. That show is now in its seventh or eighth run. Then I did our next show, which is Revelations of Authentic Women where women share their secret struggles using video cameras to open the door to freedom and healing. Now we're really working on our signature project, which will really highlight how the small things in life really make a big difference, so that's kind of where we are today and who I am. Monica: That sounds wonderful. You come up with a unique underlying story idea and then you center a show or series of shows around that.
Janeé: Monica, I think any time you put yourself in the public eye you November-December 2011 | Exceptional People Magazine | 13
Janeé: Absolutely. And it really is, 9 times out of 10, true with a lot of producers and motivational speakers -the topics they're covering are what they need help with because when we teach, we learn. With Revelations of Authentic Women, that was created to inspire a community of mentorship and women walking each other
prayers, but I needed pals and a plan. I was so grateful for the people who really took me through that very difficult time and led me to great resources and really got me through it.
through life's journey. It was really because that was what I needed at that time in my life. It's just amazing to see women collaborating versus competing once we start taking down those walls of perceived perfection.
the show, we ended up getting a lot of people who really just wanted to be on television. So we recast the show and we ended up with six women ranging in age from 19 to 46 when we started the project.
Monica: Can you talk about Revelations of Authentic Women?
We really had a wide range of women who were willing to pick up a video camera and share their dark moments. They came on set with me and we would look at some of those dark moments.
Janeé: I think it's important for me to be transparent with how that project got started. I was a victim of domestic violence. And what I found through my own journey is that there were a lot of people who said they would pray for me, but I needed more than that. I certainly needed the
It was in my heart to give back and to help other women who were struggling. When we did the casting for
I'm no counselor, but I've certainly been through a number of things in my life that I feel I'm able to now
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share some of my experiences and what worked for me. We had a young lady who struggled with an eating disorder, so the focus for her was getting resources to help her. Another young lady told her parents for the first time that she was sexually abused for years by a friend.
So it was those kinds of things -- people coming out with really personal stories. I'm so honored to have been a part of these women's lives and we still have that sense of community. Now they've started their own little community groups of women sharing their stories and helping each other grow and move to the next level in their lives. Monica: It becomes a ripple effect. Janeé: Yes, absolutely. We had one of the young ladies, Miss Texas who actually dropped out. She said that being transparent was too hard for her because in the pageant world you're
always ‘on’. So to ask her to share some of those ‘not-so-on’ moments was very difficult. I never push any of them to stay, I simply welcome them back if they have a desire to return. After about two months she came back and now she's doing tremendous things and has actually made that part of her platform.
hearts over the course of the season, and then we gave back to them. I think what you're going to see in our next project is a combination of all of the work that we've done to date in an incredible hybrid.
“Who is doing it,” and, “I'm sure it's a big name.” And so it's really been fun to see the underdogs and, truthfully, even for my team to get to experience some of that. The hard work is paying off after a couple of years.
I believe we're reaching a time in our society when people are getting tired
Monica: Where can people see some of your shows or all of them?
Monica: That is excellent. Can you talk about Tour of Giving?
of the negativity and the negative role models for our children they see on television. They are looking for new things. So we are really looking to become a pioneer and a renegade in that arena.
Janeé: Currently Tour of Giving and Revelations of Authentic Women are on FamilyNet, which is a network dedicated to family-friendly programming. With the new project, we're looking to launch that on FamilyNet but also on some local ABC affiliates.
Janeé: Yes, Monica. With Tour of Giving, we wanted to show that anybody could make a difference. It doesn't take a whole lot of money. It just takes a whole lot of heart. What we did on that project is we found ordinary people doing extraordinary things and interviewed them as well as people like Mikoski from Top Shoes. And it really was designed to reignite that human spirit that we can all make a difference. It was great fun because at the season finale we went back to individuals and organizations that had really touched our
Monica: It certainly sounds like you have been proving the Hollywood naysayers wrong so far. Janeé: We have been able to prove them wrong. And the other thing is, we're a small production house, but it's great. It's been interesting because when people didn't know it was my production company, they were saying, “This is a great production,” and
Monica: How have some of the women that you've featured affected your life both on a personal and professional level? Janeé: Oh gosh, I am on the board for an organization called Mentor Connect, which does a lot of virtual mentorship. So I mentor anywhere from five to seven women a week.
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And what I’ve learned from them is really a lot of grace. I teach them not to expect perfection but it’s important to make progress and as I hear myself telling them that, then I look at what I'm doing for myself. And that has really changed my leadership style.
Monica: What is your overall view of the affect that you are having on people's lives in general and where do you see your company in the next two or three years?
I'm not proud to say this, but I used to be a Type ‘A’ perfectionist. I used to be very critical, and instead of looking at the 80 percent we were doing well, I was looking at the 20 percent area that we had to grow. It completely shifted my leadership approach. It's also shifted my personal relationships. I truly look to always bring out the positive and build on what is working well. We'll address the areas that need to be addressed, but it's really about starting from a place of strength and love. And I really learned that through the ladies that I have worked with.
fact that people have begun to embrace positive, authentic programming and there's a demand for our programs, that's where I see us growing.
Janeé: We are network-approved producers for major networks. The
When I get letters from people that I don't even remember touching their lives or an email from a woman that I mentored years ago and she's now expecting a baby and she's in a happy marriage, you just can't put a price on that. I know that I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing which is helping others.
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Monica: To whom do you attribute your passion for helping others? Janeé: My parents are incredible people. And my dad is like a tiny version of Santa Claus. He's just so lovable and people-focused. He's turning 70 this year, so we're doing a
tribute and collecting best memories and what we admire the most about him. He's always so interested in others. But I think greater than my earthly father is my heavenly father. God has done so many things in my life and taken me truly from the pit of destruction that there's no way I can't share that message of love and hope with others. Monica: What advice can you offer to young ladies to inspire them to be able to use the gifts, talents and skills that they already have to help change someone else's life?
Janeé: I think opportunities exist as long as we're looking for them. When you lead your life with a mindset of how can I help others, how can I serve others, opportunities just arrive. Even if it's just an older lady at the bank who wants to strike up a conversation -- you don't know, that might
be the only conversation she has that day.
road; take the road you know you were meant to take. Monica: You have to have a set of principles that you live by, and live by them no matter what.
Janeé: Absolutely. They're your little internal compass. ♦
With young ladies, I would say, first, look for the opportunity. Second, surround yourself with people who see your gifts and strengths and who want to nurture those gifts and strengths. And then third, anything is possible if you truly believe and never quit. Monica: The key words that you mentioned were to never quit. Janeé: I would also say that your low-lying fruits are not always the best fruit. So don't take the easiest November-December 2011 | Exceptional People Magazine | 17