We had the good fortune of connecting with Shayla Hudson Riggle and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shayla, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I definitely did not start The Hudson Sterling Firm & Genre TV on my own. My partner Narlyia Sterling has been integral to the success of the company. The thought process behind starting the company was service. We wanted to come from a place of servitude to our community. We saw that there was a need for access and film business education particularly among filmmakers of marginalized communities. When Narlyia and I would speak to filmmakers, we noticed that there was a major knowledge gap which we believe is one of the leading causes of opportunity gaps within the entertainment industry. So, we wanted to help filmmakers and provide education, opportunity, but most importantly provide help in building their own companies. With that said, the thought process is to help independent filmmakers of color, women, and marginalized communities get their content packaged, financed, produced, and sold. As a follow up to that mission, The Hudson Sterling Firm also provides a platform called GENRE TV on the ROKU app for those voices to be heard.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I am a CEO Partner at The Hudson Sterling Firm. We help filmmakers of Color, women, and marginalized communities get their content packaged, financed, produced, and sold. As a follow up to our mission, we have started a channel on the ROKU app called GENRE TV. Hudson Sterling also provides separate packaging levels where we put together business plans, sales projections, pitch decks, investment decks, line item budgets, script notes, and action plans to get project financing. Those packages come with consultation meetings that serve as an educational piece to help filmmakers understand all that goes into packaging. We do this so that they are able to package their next projects.
Another amazing accomplishment we are proud of is our first feature length film “Trimester.” Its the brain child of Narlyia Sterling. We wrote the script together and it will be shot in Australia fall of 2021. We have a great team we are working with Hafedh Dakhlaoui, Lucinda Bruce, and Dion Williams. Finally we have a game and book coming out this summer called “Kingdom of Gods: War of the gods of light and darkness.” It’s my brain child that has gone through so many changes its crazy to even think about. I have gone through so much with that project, and now to see it gain steam in a much different way than I anticipated is magical!
The challenges of being two black females in a white male dominated space of the entertainment industry has been the thrill of a lifetime. It has also been extremely tough. We get questions and comments that inquire to our intellect opposed to the actual work itself. Lots of mansplaining or questions that we otherwise wouldn’t receive if we were white males or males. I hate to admit it but even males of color at times have been dismissive of our knowledge and talent. The reason why our photos are not on our website and we named our company The Hudson Sterling Firm is because we want to have a fair exchange in business. It’s entertaining when we show up on a zoom call and we are not what the caller expects. Yet, they always leave with a new perspective and motivation for their project. Narlyia and I have had to overcome quite a bit and still fight racism, sexism, and colorism within our own community. Regardless of the obstacles and challenges, Narlyia and I are lions. We stick together and take pride in our strength. Most importantly no matter how hard it gets, we never back down even in the face of insurmountable odds.
I have made many mistakes and those mistakes have taught me the following valuable lessons. One: in any partnership make sure you are all Givers, and clearly define what giving 100% means to you. When you are in a partnership with a Taker, they will devote most of their time and energy making you believe they are matching your 100% efforts, rather than actually matching it. They will even make you feel bad for questioning their work ethic. You will find yourself covering for them by pulling most of the weight thus taking on a majority of the workload. But, when its time to reap any kind of reward or credit, the Taker will have no problem demanding equal or more than what they have put in. If that is a partnership you are in, I encourage you to ask yourself if that partnership is truly serving you personally and professionally? I am speaking 100% from personal experience. A partnership like that will effect you. It has taken me years to get over. If I can help one person with my story to avoid the pit falls of unevenly yoked partnerships then I will have done my job. Which leads me to Lesson Two: Sometimes the best reaction, is no reaction. People are going to do and say crazy things, especially if they believe they are justified. At the end of the day, no one is worth you loosing your cool. So, stick to your mission & treat everyone fairly. Lesson Three: Not everyone is going to understand your vision, and that’s ok. As you gain more clarity about your goals you may have to change course in order to be more in alignment with them. That may go against what your friends, family, agents, or managers may want for you. But, remember its your life and career. No has the right to dictate that but you. So, don’t be afraid to make the necessary adjustments even though it may be difficult. Find a mentor that is actively doing or has achieved what you want to achieve. But remember, these mentors have worked really hard for the knowledge that they have. So, be humble and respectful of their time.
I would like people to know that The Hudson Sterling Firm is really one of a kind. We are here to genuinely help filmmakers of color, women and marginalized communities get their content packaged, financed, produced and sold. Narlyia and I are here to help filmmakers build their production companies. The more companies out there like ours the more opportunities their will be for everyone. Be sure to download the Roku App and then GENRE TV. You will get a look at the content of the talented filmmakers we have the privilege of working with.
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?
If my best friend were visiting I would take them to the following places:
Huntington Gardens for Tea and Exhibits. I also love going to the Broad, The Getty Villas, Old Town Pasadena Antique Mall, All the Amusement Parks, and catching a good show.
My favorite restaurants are La Fiesta Grande, Toi Thai, Fogo de Chao, Dukes, Scarantino’s, Conrads, Everest, and good Taco Trucks.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There a couple of people that deserve a shout out. First, I want to shout out Eric Louzil and Sandro Gohoho from Echelon Studios. It is very rare when people in this industry genuinely care and teach you, then allow you to grow. To say I am grateful is an understatement. If you are a filmmaker and you want content distributed, Echelon Studios is a great company! Next, my business partner Narlyia Sterling deserves a HUGE shout out. I have never had a partnership in business where I have felt 100% supported, valued, and challenged. Narlyia is one of the most talented hard working human beings on the planet. Our partnership is truly balanced, yin and yang. Last but not least, I have the shout out my husband Toby Riggle. He is the most supportive, kind, loving, inspiring man. He is someone that I aspire to be like because he is a genuine light to everyone that has the privilege to meet him and call him friend. There is no way I would be where I am today without him and his support.