We had the good fortune of connecting with Jillian King and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jillian, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
“Work-life balance” has never been a popular concept in the entertainment industry. When I first started in the industry was expected that you would always be available; long hours for little pay were “paying your dues,” and the infamous phrase, “there is no ‘no,'” was introduced to me. Because of this, I spent over 15 years married to my job.
Since finding therapy, I have learned the phrase “generational trauma.” It is defined as a family member suffering traumatic events and then passing it down to the younger generation, and so on. I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “well, I had to do it, so you do too.” Or the blanket statement, “this is just how it is.” As I zoom out on my workplace experience and have spent many years reading articles and talking to friends about their experiences in entertainment, I believe that generational trauma exists in the workplace.
I think the pandemic has shed light on mental health and the way we do our jobs. It’s now more than proven that we don’t need to be in an office for 10+ hours a day to make great entertainment for the masses. What’s wrong with going home and having dinner with your family and answering emails from there if needed? Why can’t you take a day to work from home and make that doctor’s appointment you’ve been putting off because you’ve felt chained to your desk for years?
I think balance starts with self-love and self-respect. When you have a deadline for work or need to be at a meeting at a particular time, you prioritize making those things happen because you respect your job (or you need a paycheck, either one). We also need to respect ourselves. Make appointments for yourself, whether waking up an hour early to meditate or work out. Or set a boundary at work that you need to leave at a specific time to pick up your child from school, or attend a doctor’s appointment, with the intention that you will be available over email/phone if an emergency happens. Let’s be honest, if you’re in the entertainment industry, how many doctor appointments have you put off because you felt like you could not leave to take care of yourself? How many of you have missed bedtime stories with your kids, dinner with your mom, and didn’t take that phone call from your grandmother, all because you were “too busy?” (Or made to feel like you couldn’t do those things)
And for what.? To make that unrealistic deadline, take on two jobs because the budget was cut again? I know I’ve started respecting myself more and finding workplaces that also appreciate me and my time and talents. I urge everyone reading this to do the same. And if you’re in a position of power, I encourage you to help change this narrative and end the generational trauma of working in the entertainment industry.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’ve had the pleasure of working in the entertainment industry for over 20 years. I started in radio, booking bands and artists to perform at my college, and working on Emmy-winning shows such as Rachael Ray, The Real, Steve Harvey, and Red Table Talk.
Nothing about the entertainment industry is easy. The saying, “who you know” is very true. But I will say this, I’m most proud of the fact that I did all of this without a parent who was already in the industry. I had no connections. I was just a girl from Southern Maryland who just wouldn’t take no for an answer.
I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned throughout the years would be the saying, “you have to go to grow.” I knew that if I wanted to be in entertainment, I would have to go to where they make entertainment happen. I started in NYC, and when I gave all I had there, I knew it was time to move to LA and continue to grow. If you stay comfortable, you aren’t growing. Being uncomfortable isn’t always fun, but when you look back at the moments you learned a lot, I bet you were at your most uncomfortable.
The other big lesson I learned but to set boundaries. Too often are we consumed with our jobs. It’s ok to say no, it’s ok to take time for yourself, because at the end of the day if you were to die tomorrow, your job would replace you in a week. Take care of you.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My favorite place to take anyone visiting LA from out of town is Geoffrey’s in Malibu. The view is unbeatable, the sunsets are the best. The food is always good. Every time I bring someone there, they always understand why I moved to California. I also take friends for drinks at Soho West Hollywood. It’s also a nice place for a sunset view.
Most of my friends are Disney lovers like me so I trip to Disneyland will always be on the itinerary. I still say the best Manhattan you will ever have is at Carthy Circle restaurant in California Adventure.
The PCH drive from Malibu to Ventura county highway is unbeatable as well. It’s a great detour if you want to go up to Santa Barbara. And if you go to Santa Barbara, I always think the wineries up there are just as good as going to Napa. Sunstone Winery is a favorite of mine.
Nothing beats a trip down to La Jolla cove. George’s on the Cove is a must-eat restaurant and also The Marine Room is one of the most unique dining experiences you can have.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are so many people that I could mention that have helped me get to where I am. But, will just highlight a few standouts here.
I have to start with my “OG” mentor in this game and that is the one and only, Deb Damato. She was my first boss in TV when I started out as the travel coordinator on Season 1 of the “The Rachael Ray Show.” I will always cherish her wisdom, humor, and guidance. I was new to the TV industry and to NYC, and she took me under to wing and taught me everything I still use today. I called her “details Damato” because she taught me the importance of details, and double-checking everything. A skill that I still use to this day. And if she ever reads this, “Deb, there is still a car in Queens.”
Next, I have to shout out my girl, Sunny Anderson. She has been such an incredible friend, mentor, and support system for me throughout the years. I met her back at my time with “The Rachael Ray Show.” From the moment we met, we just clicked, she’s kept in touch with me ever since I left the show to move to LA. We talk often about everything in life including my career, and she always gives me the best advice and believes in me even when I’m having a down moment, she’s always there to pick me up.
Next, I thank this guy privately all the time, and now I get to do it publicly! Shane Farley has been my go-to mentor in this industry for many years. In fact, when Deb Damato was helping me figure out my next move in TV (I was trying to decide if I wanted to be on the creative side or the production side), she asked me, “Who’s job do you look up to?” And I said, “I want to be Shane Farley.”
When I first moved to LA, I was working on a show that I loved, but when he called and asked me to go over to “Steve Harvey,” I just had to say yes. And I’m very glad I did. Shane was a great leader. He celebrated my strengths and highlighted them whenever he could. I’ve worked for bosses that have felt threatened by me or wanted to push me down so I didn’t know how good I was. Shane was never like that and did the opposite in fact. I’m constantly inspired by his creativity, passion, and business savvy. Now, I not only consider him a mentor but also, a great friend.
Finally, if you notice, I met all of these amazing people working at “The Rachael Ray Show.” So… To Rachael Ray herself, I am eternally grateful to you. You have the biggest heart, you’re an incredible host, and it was an honor to work alongside you for 10 years. I love you for infinity. Thank you.
DJ Khalid photo with me: Ivan Berrios https://www.instagram.com/ivanberrios/ Photo with Michelle Obama: Credit, The White House