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An Emerging Hollywood Powerhouse

September 3, 2013 by  
Filed under Extra, Feature

Rochelle Brown and Sonia Armstead are helping broaden the way African-Americans are depicted on television


Rochelle Brown and Sonia Armstead of Powerhouse Productions.

Rochelle Brown and Sonia Armstead own and operate the award-winning Powerhouse Productions, a fullservice production company based in Hollywood. This talented pair is known for nimbly producing a variety of series, with their shows appearing on such networks as TBS, Food Network, TV One, Cooking Channel, HGTV, Fine Living, BET, BET J and Disney.

“We like to call ourselves the Dynamic Duo,” said Armstead. “Rochelle and I both worked in the television industry for many, many years. The business of television is a growing business that is ever changing. We worked together at Fox Television and helped launch the Food Network. We realized one day that we were in key positions with great ideas that we gave to our bosses — (and they) rose to the top. We saw that there was an opportunity to take our great ideas and put our own brand and signature on them, so we started Powerhouse Productions in 2003.”

Some of the duo’s most popular television shows include “Living It Up with Patti Labelle,” “Turn up the Heat with G. Garvin,” “The Ford HBCU Business Classic,” “Fresh Food Fast with Emeril Lagasse” and “Road Trip with G. Garvin.”

One of their proudest moments: the success of the hit TV One series “Save My Son,” hosted by Dr. Steve Perry and nominated for a 2012 NAACP Image Award.

“It was great to utilize the vehicle of television to save lives with ‘Save My Son.’ It was very personal to me, because I lost my own brother to the streets,” said Brown. “He is still alive, but my family and I lost him to a life on the street. Something happened. I came from a two-parent home, and most of my family members all graduated from college. But my brother went in the opposite direction.”

The diversity in their programming portfolio has won the Powerhouse partners increasing notice among executives in the competitive entertainment industry. Having worked hard to reach that level of influence and respect in Hollywood, Armstead said she and Brown “are thriving and flourishing at Powerhouse Productions with a great staff, family support and most of all, each other.”

Together, they are setting out to shift prevailing paradigms that too often rule how African-Americans are depicted in media.

“We sought to create a company we could be proud of — and tell our stories, about our people,” said Armstead. “From our backgrounds, we can appreciate it and not distort it. We, as African-Americans, have wonderful stories — African-Americans that are very successful, that were not being featured in television the proper way.”

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