The Come Up

Interviews with entrepreneurs and executives who are shaking things up and building exciting new companies. In industries like new Hollywood, podcasting, ecommerce, and the metaverse. Entertaining you with stories you won't hear anywhere else, from the next generation of leaders that are going to change the world. Brought to you by Chris Erwin, the founder of RockWater and 15-year veteran operator, seller, and investor of media, commerce, and technology companies.

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episode 16: Alison Eakle — EVP at Shondaland on Being 1st to Netflix, Bridgerton, Promotions After 30, and Motherhood


Alison Eakle is the EVP and Head of Creative Development at Shondaland. We discuss how imagining movie posters makes her a better creative exec, being a co-EP on Netflix’s #1 show Bridgerton, why she’s racked up so many recent promotions, and being part of new Hollywood’s most groundbreaking streamer partnerships. 

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Email us: tcupod@wearerockwater.com

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EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:

 

Chris Erwin:

Hi, I'm Chris Erwin. Welcome to The Come Up, a podcast that interviews entrepreneurs and leaders.

 

Alison Eakle:

I'll never forget there was... The current assistant had put out a job posting. And how this works in Hollywood is you'll see jobs on things called tracking boards or emailed chains, but they always say, "No phone calls, please. Just email your resume." Right? And I was like, "I'm going to call him." And I did. And I just called him and I was like, "Look, I did not come up through the agency feed. I don't have the required experience, but I swear to God the desk I'm on is harder than any agency desk you can imagine. And I'll tell you why if you meet me for like 15 minutes." So we did. We literally met in the middle of the lot at Paramount. He was like, "You know what? I think my boss would like you."

 

Chris Erwin:

This week's episode features Alison Eakle, the EVP and Head of Creative Development at Shondaland. Alison grew up on the Jersey shore, actually my same hometown. She loved the arts since an early age, traveling to New York City for auditions as a young teenager, but she was planning to give it all up at Georgetown for career in politics until she had a breakthrough moment in her screenwriting class. Alison went on to get her MFA at UT Austin and then had roles in some of the most exciting production houses in Hollywood, from Paramount Vantage to Columbia Pictures and working for Ellen DeGeneres. Then a serendipitous moment took her to Shondaland where her career has been on fire. Some highlights of our chat include how imagining movie posters makes her a better creative exec, being a co EP and Netflix is number one show bridging that where she's racked up so many recent promotions and being part of new Hollywood's most groundbreaking streamer partnerships. All right, let's get into it. Alison, thanks for being on the podcast.

 

Alison Eakle:

Thanks for having me, Chris Erwin

 

Chris Erwin:

Very well, Alison Eakle. We got some history between us.

 

Alison Eakle:

That's right.

 

Chris Erwin:

So let's go back a bit. Where did you grow up? What was your household like?

 

Alison Eakle:

So I grew up in Rumson, New Jersey, which is a bit of a towny suburb, as they say, in the Northern part of the Jersey shore obviously. Well, I grew up the only child of Wall Street parents. Parents who had met kind of working at Wall Street in the '70s at a time that I've heard many incredible stories about. And it's interesting because when I was eight, there was a big stock market crash. And my dad was all for Morgan Stanley and my mom inspired him to start their own company, a financial investment advisory firm called Eakle and Associates. And so it's interesting I haven't really thought about that a lot, but I did watch my dad face what is one of my worst fears, that idea of just suddenly everything kind of pulled out from underneath you and I watched them together kind of build something new.

 

Chris Erwin:

Did your parents both work for the company?

 

Alison Eakle:

Oh yeah. My mom was VP, he was president and basically it was just a three person operation. And my dad, he had clients that he would manage their portfolios, but he put out something called the Eakle Report every week and would have to find really creative ways to talk about the stock market, which Godspeed to him because I wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole. I have no idea how to talk about the stock market. My mom ran all the logistics, taught herself computers at that time and really brought her up to speed fast. And they had that company for a long time until their divorce, which I have no idea what role the company played in that, but they definitely had it for, it was over 10 years, really successful. So that's kind of like what I grew up in. And I was very privileged. I came from a place of a lot of privilege where I went to private school.

 

Chris Erwin:

RCDS?

 

Alison Eakle:

RCDS, Rumson Country Day School, big shout outs, still very loyal to that school, that little short brown stone church on the corner.

 

Chris Erwin:

Are you still involved with the RCDS community? Like I have the friends from school I'm still in touch with, but I'm not giving back or anything like that. Well, maybe I should rethink it.

 

Alison Eakle:

No, I am not as involved as I want to be. I did have like a strange fantasy that one summer I'd go back or one year I'd go back to my 20s and substitute teach there. I don't know where that came from but-

 

Chris Erwin:

On the theatrical program?

 

Alison Eakle:

Yeah, why not? I'll do so. I love a school play. I love that. I love something roughly adapted from children's literature into strange costumes and children sputtering around on a stage, but it was just such a surreal experience because it was so safe, so incredible. I feel like that experience really formed me even from kindergarten on. And it was across the street from Bruce Springsteen's house. So what a quintessential New Jersey experience really?

 

Chris Erwin:

Yeah. I remember walking down Bruce's driveway on Halloween. He always would give out like the supersize snicker bars.

 

Alison Eakle:

Yeah. And [inaudible 00:04:44].

 

Chris Erwin:

It was always like, we got to go to Bruce's house then we'd go to Bon Jovi's house. That was like such a fun thing.

 

Alison Eakle:

Yeah. That's very dead on. I grew up there riding bikes to the beach, just walking around the neighborhood. They're a very arcade fire of the suburbs kind of existence, but with the modicum of real safety that I so appreciate now and also again realize how lucky I was in a lot of ways.

 

Chris Erwin:

So I have to ask, your parents are to business, it's just funny to hear that. I just recorded a podcast last week with Naomi Shah, the Founder of Meet Cute, it's a new romcom podcast network. And her parents started a technology business based out of Portland, Oregon. And so it's just funny that now like a week later I'm interviewing you and your parents started a business together as well. There is an entrepreneurship vein in your family. So was there a theme though about your interest in the arts that came from your parents or did that come separately?

 

Alison Eakle:

That was from really my aunt and uncle. And look, my mom was one of those people who did leave her job when she had me, but continued to have that kind of type A excel at anything she put her mind to it personality. She was somebody who played the organ. We had like a Hammond organ in our living room now that I think about it. She had interest in music and musicals and all of that thing and certainly was very supportive of the arts, but wasn't necessarily kind of ensconced in it. Whereas my aunt had been an actress since the day I was born, my uncle had been an agent at Theatrical Agent in New York, but also run his own company called Cornerstone up until he died. And so for me... And they were much younger than my parents. My mom is like 12 years older than my aunt.

 

Alison Eakle:

So they were this cool young aunt and uncle really ensconced in show business. They took me to my first Broadway play Les Miserables when I was 10. I felt incredibly like I had a model to look at of like what would a life in that business look like. And I definitely was born with the bug and loved trying to get the solo in school plays or whatever it was. And eventually my parents did let me act as a kid and tried to make a go of it professionally. And I was represented at a now defunct agency called J. Michael Bloom.

 

Chris Erwin:

What age is that, Alison?

 

Alison Eakle:

So this is like, by the time I'm actually wrapped I'm 13. So this is like '93, which is a very awkward age to be putting yourself out there. But for whatever reason, I was really into it and loved it and had some close calls. I got to do a callback in a room with James Ivory for Jefferson in Paris, a role that eventually went to Gwyneth Paltrow, which I think the better woman won. They aged it up and gave it to her, I remember, but it was such a cool experience too for a year. My parents were very anti stage parents. They were like, "Look, you clearly have some bit of talent in this and you really want to try it. We'll let you try it. But it's going to be for a small amount of time." It was only like maybe a year and a half, two years and then you really do have to go back and focus on like high school if it doesn't click, if there's not for me. And I only went out, I didn't go out for commercials. So it was sort of-

 

Chris Erwin:

Did you take time off from school at all for this?

 

Alison Eakle:

RCDS was really lenient in the sense that if I had to leave at three o'clock for like an audition in the city or to do a reading for an off-Broadway play or whatever it was, I could be flexible, but come close as I may have, I never got the big part that would have necessitated the on-set tutor.

 

Chris Erwin:

Did you feel at an early age, a clear interest in the arts and that, hey, this is going to be my career, this is where I'm going to be?

 

Alison Eakle:

I think if you look at my life in general too, and we'll talk about this, it's so funny because that clearly was always had such a strong pull that even when I tried to divert myself to more stable or a prestigious academically kind of bent careers, like politics and things like that, somehow it would just find me again and kind of pull me back to acting, writing, performing, creating, that side of things.

 

Chris Erwin:

So I think it's good that Gwyneth got the part because you've obviously had very special trajectory at Shondaland, you are exactly where you are meant to be.

 

Alison Eakle:

That is very reassuring to hear. And I do tell myself that sometimes. And I do get to still read parts at table reads occasionally at Shondaland, which is how I scratched that itch.

 

Chris Erwin:

So you're acting in your teams, you have some representation, you're going out on auditions, I just got to throw this out there from the RCDS memories, for some reason this is so ingrained in my brain. I remember taking the bus with you I think after school and then going down, I think if I remember correctly, it was a stone driveway, a gray stone driveway. It was a circle. The school bus would go down that and we would drop you off and your house, was it a gray house or a white house?

 

Alison Eakle:

Yeah. A gray house and white trim. It doesn't exist anymore. It was raised to the ground to build some other crazy mansion, but it was an adorable 1920s house. Four fireplaces when I think about it. Good God.

 

Chris Erwin:

Wow. One of my earliest memories that is definitely imprinted in my brain and I remember specifically from you, I think you were a year above me.

 

Alison Eakle:

That's kind. I'm three years older than you. I just loved to hang out with...

 

Chris Erwin:

Yeah. So that's what I was going to say is that you befriended myself and my twin brother, John, and you're always so kind to us on the bus. So you were very interesting. You just had interesting points of views on things and we picked that up at a pretty early age. Alison Eakle was at the light in my childhood, but it didn't stop there. So after RCDS, I left that school system I think around third grade and I went into the public school system as did some of our other friends. At RFH, I think that's where we were reunited in a Spanish class. You were a senior and I was a freshman, was that Parker's class or Von Handle? Who was that?

 

Alison Eakle:

Oh, maybe it was Von Handle actually, now that I think about it, but I couldn't remember her name. I just remember she had great hair, like a really perfect... So what did happen was I took French from third grade forward. And then in high school I had done the AP and I was like, I sort of want to start another language when I might have a chance of speaking on a daily basis. And so I started Spanish as a junior, but it was hilarious to be... It was my only experience of being the lone senior in a class full of freshmen. It was such a blast and such a different perspective on things at that point in my life. I was so happy to be in it with you. And it was Adam Sachs too.

 

Chris Erwin:

It was Adam Sachs. Maybe John Waters was in there.

 

Alison Eakle:

Yeah. Waters 100%. And we had to make a video. I'll never forget this. We had to make a video project for the class. I forget who else was on my team, but there was like a surfer kid named Ryan. And we stormed at his house and I was just like, I'm 18 years old at this point just making a weird Spanish video with a bunch of freshmen in it, but it was great. I felt like I really loved that experience.

 

Chris Erwin:

Yeah. Very on theme again, a little bit older hanging out with the younger kids, we enjoyed it. There's something in the water, I think from like the Rumson Monmouth County area for Hollywood, because it's a bunch of people from the East Coast, but then Adam Sachs is running Team Coco, Conan O'Brien, you Andy Redmond running Tornante under Michael Eisner, you're at Shondaland doing a thing, Matt Warshauer another friend is a writer and-

 

Alison Eakle:

A really talented writer.

 

Chris Erwin:

Yeah. Impressive creator. And then I'm trying to do my thing at RockWater in New Media. So there's a crew of us out here together.

 

Alison Eakle:

It was probably the biggest surprise to me when I got here is how many people from growing up in New Jersey are out here, both from that experience, the experience we shared, but also somehow or another, we convinced a lot of people to leave New York when we first came out here in the mid 2000s. And we have a really... I always thought it would be kind of my film school crew that would, and there's a lot of them, the Austin Kids out here too, Austin, Texas, but tons of Jersey people.

 

Chris Erwin:

So after high school, the arts theme continues. You go to Georgetown, did you run a TV station there?

 

Alison Eakle:

Yeah. Well, it's so funny. I went there, again, trying to do like the sensible thing. I was like, I'm going to be in politics and urban development. And I had a real tracy flick then to me of like, I'm going to be the mayor of the city. And then I got into those classes and was sort of put off by the approach that the other students had to government and the idea that everybody was obviously in this kind of self aggrandized way. And I realized, oh, that's not maybe my jam. I'm not here to prove how much I know about how many congressmen are from which districts or what have you. I really wanted to affect change on a local level. Of course, part of its insane ambition. I don't think anyone decides to go into politics without being a little amped up about that and being like, I think I'm pretty great.

 

Alison Eakle:

I absolutely had that threat, but I felt so kind of outpaced by my classmates in terms of their ambition and I started to question if it was for me. And then weirdly enough, it was a sophomore class, a screenwriting class I took with a professor named John Glavin. And at that time, he had mentored Jonah Nolan who at that point had made Memento with his brother and suddenly I had, yet again, a model to look at him like, oh, somebody in a class just like this with this man as their professor broke through. Right? Obviously he has incredible talent. And that stuff can't be taught, but it was like suddenly I could at least see a path sort of. That same year, I think my sophomore year Georgetown University Television, the finest closer television channel in the land was starting on campus, and I realized, oh, that seems like fun.

 

Alison Eakle:

And my first show that I produced and sometimes hosted with Aaron Cocce and Brian Walsh, was it called G Talk Live? And I even forget all that I did. It was sort of a running gun, all hands on deck, but it's like a live call-in show, a talk show, panel show for the campus. And I'll never forget they were like, "Alison, do you want to host a very special episode?" And I said, "Of course, I do." About one of the most pressing topics out there, Dawson's Creek. So that was my big contribution, but I loved it. And I stayed with the television station all three years. And at my senior year, we sponsored like a film festival and the films were incredible. And you think back it was... I looked at a program I'd kept from maybe six years ago when I was moving and it's like, Zal Batmangli, creator of The OA along with Brit Marling, the two of them had made one of the shorts and contention and Mike Cahill and Brit Marling had also collaborated in a way that would pre-stage their collaborations on another earth.

 

Alison Eakle:

And it was kind of incredible because I look back and I see that drive. I see all of these people who actually were trying to carve out a space at a school maybe not known for people who are going to forge a path in TV and film doing so, but also it was like Mike Birbiglia and Nick Kroll, John Mulaney were all my contemporaries as well. So also seeing a real comedy scene evolve, I feel like again, very lucky and they're at the right time in terms of it was in the zeitgeists of again, getting to look at people really trying to forge that path in a way that I had not seen before.

 

Chris Erwin:

And then you felt, I think, empowered. It's like, I can do this. Like that screen writing class was a spark for you. It's like, fine, this is what I'm going to pursue. I came here for political science and different reasons, but that's now changed.

 

Alison Eakle:

Yeah. I'm so glad I decided to try it and listen. And again, at that point I'd let go of the acting thing, even though I would still occasionally act in like one act plays that friends would write or things like that. But I do think the acting informed the love of writing, which in turn, all of that feeds the work that I do now, essentially because I think as a creative executive, I do look at everything through the lens of, okay, I know what it's like to sit and stare at a blank page now with that cursor blinking and understanding kind of how do you generate something from nothing, how do you riff on ideas to try to get through a piece of writer's block, all of that.

 

Alison Eakle:

But I also approach things in terms of like, when I read a script, I do think to myself, do I want to play that role? Because I know that if I have that instinct of like, oh my God, I wish I want to say these words, I wish I could play that part, you're onto something at that point. That is a really good sign that somebody has created something worth making.

 

Chris Erwin:

Because you have an acting background, you can empathize with the words on the page and you could have a vision for how the words will manifest.

 

Alison Eakle:

It's almost like first, it's a different way that informs decision-making, right? Because in terms of creatively, the big question is like, what do you love enough that you would actually spend years of your life working on? And I think, again, that's one thing that goes, I can really appreciate when a piece of writing is going to appeal to an actor. Like in this business too, so much of it is who's going to fill this role, especially in TV so often if you're not going with an already established huge star, you need to find a person who can really become that role. Especially when there's a breakout hit and an actor has really been a part of creating that role with the writer, that follows them for the rest of their life. People always think of them in some ways as that person.

 

Alison Eakle:

So I do try to think of like, are there iconic roles in this that somebody would really dig into that would get me excited that way? And similarly, actually the writing piece of it comes into mind too, because if I read a pilot or something, but I found something worth pursuing and talking about it, if my head's already like, oh my God, I can see episodes, I know what I'd want to watch and want to see in the show, so that's the writer part of me thinking like, oh my God, if I had to pitch ideas for it, I could, that's really promising. So it's definitely stuff that that background I think does inform the work I do.

 

Chris Erwin:

Got it. As I'm listening to you, Alison, I'm hearing the passion come out from you. So I think you said you no longer act, but you really enjoy the table reads that you do with the Shondaland team. Do you think that there might be a future where you might see a script and you're inspired to be like, "You know what? I want to go do a one woman show. I'm going to join a small private troop." Is that something that either maybe you're doing now or that's like seated in your brain?

 

Alison Eakle:

It's something that I still do for friends. Like we'll still do writer's table reads together and things like that. I don't think I would rule out the idea of doing some kind of acting with friends on a project. I don't think it's going to be generated by me. I don't think I'm going to be the one to push it forward, but I think that if an opportunity presented itself, it would be really fun. And I actually love the idea of like voiceover, that idea of doing that kind of work too, because I give real actors steeped in their craft so much credit because the way you make yourself so vulnerable reading at a table read or doing a piece of voiceover where I can kind of hide behind, not be on camera and not be seen, that's more appealing to me now than leaving it all on the stage every night or really exposing myself fully on a show or a film and just emotionally, physically all of these things. I think that stuff's incredibly scary and every time I see actors go for it, I'm just standing out.

 

Chris Erwin:

Shondaland launched an audio business and maybe scripted audio is in your future. You could do some of that. You just-

 

Alison Eakle:

I'm going to ask Sandy Bailey if I can audition for some of those pieces. That's right.

 

Chris Erwin:

All right, cool. I want to flow into your early career, but so after Georgetown, you end up getting your MFA at UT Austin. So from there I think you go to New York for around six months and then you transition to LA if that's right. Tell us quickly, what was that journey from being at UT Austin, one or two key themes from that and then the beginning of your journey in Hollywood thereafter?

 

Alison Eakle:

I just was interviewed about my time at UT Austin. And I think the thing that's so crazy about it, that was a big takeaway was do not let your program define you because when I got there, it was just an MA screenwriting program. It became an MFA screenwriting program. But I think there was this kind of a mentality sometimes like we were the weird step-kids of like the film program, but also the really prestigious writing, the James Michener program that is for like novelists, poets, playwrights. So it's like a multi-disciplinary incredibly competitive workshop. Two years, they pay you. It was easy sometimes to feel a little less than, but then as time got going and I just fell in love with a couple of professors, I started like working on short films with people. I was a TA. Speaking of hanging out with younger kids and being a TA as a grad student, I can't tell you how many of my former students are also out here killing it and just absolutely running shit.

 

Alison Eakle:

And it blows my mind that I ever thought I could teach them anything like run indie film divisions of agencies. I really did start to just make my experience what I thought it could be as opposed to just be like, well, I'm just an MFA screen writing student. It was great. It was a great experience. I lived with law students instead. So that kind of exposed me to a whole different way of experiencing UT. They worked hard in the party tag, Chris, I will say that. That was my Austin experience. And I wound up working for Burnt Orange Productions, which is this company that had like a really cool experiment at hand where they were making low budget indie features like one was Elvis and Annabelle, starring a very young Blake Lively and Max Minghella. And that's the one, when I was there, they were making.

 

Chris Erwin:

So then thereafter, did you have a more specific lane of knowing where you wanted to go and what exactly you were going to do? How does that get you to, I think, was a pretty transformational role, which was at Paramount Vantage.

 

Alison Eakle:

It's so funny, but I really thought I was going to just be a screenwriter. My best friend, Ashley, who is now a show runner in her own right with her husband, she was finishing film school at Columbia. So the only reason I did that six months stint in New York was because A, growing up in Jersey and looking at New York is like the city. It just felt like I have to live in New York at some point. And so many of my good friends are there, I just want to have that experience. So I thought I might stay, that there might be a way to make it work, but New York is hard and expensive and it's even more so now an impossible place to live. But even in 2006, it's like, I'd worked Monday through Friday as like an assistant in an advertising agency and then Saturdays and Sundays, I would like go to Bronx Science and other schools in the city to teach SAT prep.

 

Alison Eakle:

So I was truly working seven days a week and still hardly getting by and I didn't even have to pay rent because I was just crashing with my friend. Her boyfriend, now husband, had moved out to LA in kind of October of '06 and we started processing and thinking about it could we really make this trip? I'm like, could I really break my mother's heart and move across the country? And eventually realized that if this is really what we wanted to do was to be screenwriters, it really did feel like we had to be in LA. And so we did it together with her two cats and her two goldfish and a Toyota Corolla.

 

Chris Erwin:

Two women, two cats, two goldfish, two Corollas.

 

Alison Eakle:

Yeah. Two of everything. One of the cats shit himself as we were crossing Arkansas. And there was a very uncomfortable gas station interaction with some locals and that cat and trying to get that cat out of the carrier of the car, but look, all worth it. The two fish died immediately when we put them in LA water, a very foreboding omen. New York was just, I knew in some way I wanted to get a chance to have an adventure with Ashley, collaborate with her potentially and we wound up moving out to LA together.

 

Chris Erwin:

Similar to you, after graduating from school in Boston, I was like, "Yeah, I got to go to New York." That's like what... You're in the tri-state area, big exciting visions. And then the fact that I can go down to the shore and see my family on like an hour train ride or the ferry that had just started to emerge. And I got stuck there for five years in finance. So you only got stuck for six months, I probably took like 10 years off my life doing finance in New York City. But you got out and so you make the move, you get to LA and then you end up at Paramount Vantage and you do a few things before that.

 

Alison Eakle:

And one really formative job. So basically I get there, I go to a temp agency my show business actors aunt had connected me with and I'm like, "Let me do a typing test. Let me show you I can use Excel." And I got a job that was temp to perm, potentially assisting a woman named Nancy Gallagher, who was an EVP of marketing at Paramount Pictures. And this woman was like close personal friends with Steven Spielberg and Joel Schumacher and Tom Cruise. Like she had done marketing campaigns for movies that had shaped my teen years, like Clueless and Titanic. Like I lost my mind when I realized really the impact she had had. She was also incredibly old-school, did not use a computer at the time. It was a kind of a wild experience. I would be there 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM. I would never leave the desk. I would take dictation. I would read her an email she got. She would dictate an answer back to me and I would type it back to the person.

 

Chris Erwin:

This is 2007?

 

Alison Eakle:

Oh yeah, don't worry about it, Chris. But she was incredible. I mean, she was an incredible talent. She just was sort of like had not kind of embraced that part of the job and was just deep in the creative. I mean, again, I got to meet so many impactful, incredible filmmakers, like Calvin Kennedy, we had four movies that we're marketing. It was a real learning curve for the almost two years I did it. And that classic, first Hollywood job, like don't screw up that phone call from Scott Rudin or whatever it is. Like there were those moments consistently. And I was scared out of my wits until I wasn't. And eventually I was just like, I would see the kids in their suits come in from Yale to take my job since I was just a temp and interview and I was like, "No, no, no, no, fuck it. I'm going to keep this job." It almost became like a challenge to myself.

 

Alison Eakle:

And I think being able to stick it out and succeed there, even though I didn't want to do marketing, and on that desk is where I realized I never have time to write and I'm never making time. And people who really want to be writers, they make time. They get up at 6:00 AM and write for two hours before their desk job. And I was not doing that. So I just realized I think I found out there was a thing called development, which is basically what I loved about writing most was workshops like working with writers, not being the writer and started to try to think about how to make that transition.

 

Chris Erwin:

Got it. Look, I hear this from a lot of people who work at the agencies like pretty early on is that it's really exciting in the beginning, but it's also painful, the work, the stress, a lot of bad bosses, it turns people out and they leave Hollywood. But when you were there, did it feel like you're just getting more excited, but you're like, but I'm not in the role that I want. Like what you just described as like, I want to get into development. So I feel good about the industry, this is hard, but the stars in my eyes, they're still real and they're not going away. Is that right?

 

Alison Eakle:

Yes. I think I am at some level, again, like a pragmatist. There's always competing parts, right? There's the creative and the pragmatist and the pragmatists was like, you have a job that pays really well in a business that doesn't, you have overtime, you have health insurance, I was just like, keep doing this. And again, I love the challenge of a professor or a boss that's incredibly difficult to impress. So I love that challenge. And I learned a ton because honestly the biggest lesson of marketing is like, don't create something you don't know how to approach an audience with. You need to know who this movie or this show is for and obviously there's always a pleasant surprise when it kind of broadens out past that, but that was really drilled and it's like, what does the poster look like?

 

Alison Eakle:

Because we would get scripts and movies that we had to market. And we would look at each other what is this about? How did you sell this movie? And I will not name names, but it was incredible to see it from that other end. And that was the boss. She was incredible in teaching me like Alison, as an assistant in Hollywood, your job is to assume no one else is doing their job correctly, which is a terrible place to live for a long time in terms of that is so fear-based. But it is also a way to I learned how to anticipate what could go wrong or how to kind of shore up and idiot proof certain processes in a way that I do things still serves me to today.

 

Chris Erwin:

Hey listeners, this is Chris Irwin, your host of The Come Up. I have a quick ask for you. If you dig what we're putting down, if you like the show, if you like our guests, it would really mean a lot if you can give us a rating wherever you listen to our show. It helps other people discover our work and it also really supports what we do here. All right. That's it everybody, let's get back to the interview. Two points that I think are interesting. Alison, you described as being able to anticipate what could go wrong or sit at corners, we had Chas Lacaillade interviewed on this podcast, he now runs a digital talent management company called BottleRocket, but he said the same exact thing he was at ICM. He's like, "The one takeaway I have from that is you can always anticipate what's going to go wrong in a deal, a conversation, a client meeting," and he found that very valuable.

 

Chris Erwin:

The second thing I think that you said, Alison, that I really like is how to market and how to approach an audience. So I think today where media has changed, where they used to be fixed supply, if you can get theatrical distribution, you're going to win. If you're going to get on like a TV network, you're going to win. But with the internet, there is so much content out there even if you're like putting up content on Netflix or you're putting up content on YouTube or in some like digital, native way, your content has to stand down. And the marketing campaign that wraps the actual content itself, how you speak and engage and excite your audience, that is where the winners are today. So the fact that you have that lens from your history, I think is really interesting.

 

Alison Eakle:

You put it better than I ever could, but that all tracks. Yes, that feels right.

 

Chris Erwin:

So you realize you're not having the amount of time you need for writing, so you've got to change it up. So where do you go?

 

Alison Eakle:

I saw a job opportunity to assist the director of production and development at Paramount Vantage. What I'll never forget there was the current assistant had put out a job posting and how this works in Hollywood, for anyone who's listening and doesn't know, is you'll see jobs on things called tracking boards or emailed chains basically. But they always say, "No phone calls, please. Do not call me. Just email your resume." Right? And I was like, okay, this job is on the same lot, I'm going to call him. And I did. And he was so incredibly lovely. Colin Conley, he's still in the business, an incredible manager. And I just called him. And I was like, "Look, I did not come up through the agency. I don't have the required experience, but I swear to God, the desk I'm on is harder than any agency desk you can imagine. And I'll tell you why if you meet me for like 15 minutes."

 

Alison Eakle:

So we did, we literally met in the middle of the lot at Paramount. And he was like, "You know what? I think my boss would like you." And he was leaving to go work at the Sundance Institute, fucking cool as hell. And I tried not to be too intimidated. And I met his boss and loved her. And the only weird thing about that experience was when I did get the job, three weeks into it, most of Paramount Vantage was let go. They were downsizing all indie studios at that point. And I was like, oh my God, I just took a pay cut and a huge risk to take this job and now I'm going to get fired. That was all that went through my head is like, we're all going to get laid off, but I don't know what happened, but for eight months, some of us still hung on.

 

Alison Eakle:

And I learned so much about future film development from my boss, Rachel. And then we were all let go. Then it really did. The hammer came down in July of 2009. John Lynch left as the head of the studio of Vantage was done. And another colleague of mine who used to be at Vantage got me my next job just assisting a production exec at Sony Pictures, Elizabeth Kentiling, who was incredible. And the experiences were so different because at Vantage, I learned a ton about development, but we never got to make anything because essentially it was like, you already saw the writing on the wall. You knew it was only a matter of time to some extent that you were going to be shut down, which I've never had an experience like that since. It is sort of freeing, because I was just like, well, I'm going to learn and do as much as I can while I'm here.

 

Alison Eakle:

And then at Sony, it was the opposite where it was like, there was development happening on scripts so I was there, but my boss was making movies. Like I always watched her oversee Social Network and Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and got really a firsthand view of like how that side of things works when stuff is going. So it was incredibly valuable, but the whole time I'm sitting there thinking, okay, I'm still an assistant, I'm 30... How old was I at that point? Probably 31. Again, wasn't acting, wasn't writing, wasn't really an exec. I would go to drinks with other assistants and them not knowing how old I was would be like, "Oh man, if I'm still an assistant at 30, kill me."

 

Chris Erwin:

It's interesting you're saying this because I was reading an interview that was done with you. Asked like what's the worst advice that you can receive or that you have received? And you said something along the lines like, oh, if you're like an assistant or haven't figured out your career in Hollywood by the time you're 30, it's over. And that's BS. That's not true. And so I think this is clearly where that's coming from.

 

Alison Eakle:

Oh yeah. And trust me in the moment I was like, maybe it is true. Like I'm not impervious to insecurities. 100% I was like, I've given all this up, I've left my family, I've moved to LA, did I make a terrible choice? Is this right? But there is such a thing where you just got to stick it out and you keep learning and try to keep growing and then the next opportunity will find you. I totally flunked out on my first creative executive interview in the Future World. And I just was like, oh man, this other junior exec at the movie studio got me this opportunity and I just said stupid shit and I blew it. But then a friend of mine from my Paramount Vantage days, a friend who had worked at Comedy Central while we were doing the Comedy Central branded movies and I really loved, was like, "My old boss from Comedy Central is starting a company for Ellen Degenerates, would you ever want to go be the assistant/exec?"

 

Alison Eakle:

And it was primarily television, both scripted and unscripted, not movies, not the big sexy thing at that time that I was still like, no, no, no, you got to work in movies. But I was like, I fucking love television. I raised myself on television. Let me tell you, I jumped at the chance. And again, I was still answering phones at that point technically, but I was like a coordinating manager. So I got to be in the meetings and watch how it happened and take meetings of my own.

 

Chris Erwin:

This is A Very Good Production, that's the name of the company?

 

Alison Eakle:

Yes. That's A Very Good Production.

 

Chris Erwin:

Okay.

 

Alison Eakle:

And look, I probably did that classic thing that I think a lot of women do where I didn't think I would feel ready to go from assistant to just exec. That is where I second guessed myself a bit. And so I loved that idea of like a hybrid opportunity, but I also couldn't have learned from anyone better than Lauren Carrao as we were building that company from the ground up with the deal at Warner Brothers.

 

Chris Erwin:

Got it. Wow. So Alison, I want to get into now your rise at Shondaland, a company that you joined back in 2013 and where you're still at today and interesting juxtaposition. So I interview a mix of technology and E-commerce, but also media executives on this podcast. A lot of the technology executives I interview, their career rise starts a lot earlier, right? It's like the difference. But in media, a lot of the people that I've interviewed, it takes a bit longer. You're joining Shondaland I think in your early 30s, but you've had an amazing run over the past almost a decade. So I'm curious, how did you first end up there?

 

Alison Eakle:

Truly going back to my doomed, but learned a lot moments of Paramount Vantage, it was my boss there, Rachel Eggebeen. She was the first kind of creative executive that Shonda and her longtime creative and producing partner, Betsy Beers, my other boss brought on and into the company when they'd had their deal through ABC. They'd been making Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice and a few other pilots that had knocked on to series. But I believe as Rachel came on board, they were making the Scandal pilot. They had expanded the company and around the time that I was ready to move on from a very good production in terms of trying to get kind of my first either producing credits or full exec job, whatever that next move was going to be for me, I reached out to Rachel and I said, "What do you think I should consider? You're one of my favorite bosses, favorite people, favorite friends, what do you think I should do?"

 

Alison Eakle:

And she said, "Well, interestingly, Shonda and Betsy are thinking about expanding the work they're doing and hiring another person. And your background in comedy could be incredibly useful and important part of the mix given they're starting to do more of that." When I came on board, they'd already been developing a pilot with Issa Rae, actually for ABC. Ultimately didn't move forward, but was one of my first experiences as an exc. It got to be me and Issa Rae in a room, sitting on the floor, working through a pilot and I will never forget it. And it was incredible. And I loved every second of working with her.

 

Chris Erwin:

Speaking of Issa Rae, so I joined the whole YouTube revolution in 2013. And I remember we were launching different like digitally native verticals. Issa Rae came in and pitched a show with her creative partner.

 

Alison Eakle:

Oh, no way.

 

Chris Erwin:

Yeah. Early days. And now look at her, she's a phenomenal. You shouldn't make a fuss.

 

Alison Eakle:

Talk about a rise. I feel silly calling what I've experienced duress in light of Issa. I mean, just and so earned and so deserve. Like with the pilot was called, I Hate LA Dudes. And that was very much my mindset while we were working on it. But I would meet my husband just a few months after we finished up with that and I reversed that decision. No, it was great to kind of come on board. And look, I was, again, nervous, that imposter syndrome thing is hard to shake. I'm like, it's my first executive job, I am a fan of these shows of Grey's Anatomy and Scandal. Scandal season one and like half of season two had aired when I started. And that jump is a big jump in Hollywood when you're first like really not answering the phones anymore. I didn't have an assistant, but I wasn't an assistant.

 

Alison Eakle:

And I got to develop like my first comedy from the ground up with these writers Petrossian Goldstein that came partly from like an original idea I had just by like being like, fuck, okay, what do I want to see in the world that I don't see? What do I want to watch on TV that's in my life and I don't see reflected? And we came up with this idea of what if your friend was dating someone terrible, just absolutely the worst. You wouldn't want to spend brunch with this person. And then they show up one day early in the dating and they're like, "We're having a baby." And I had pitched this idea of like, that would be the friend groups worst nightmare, but a lot of it would be not so much about that girl who kind of enters the group, but really about you and what you're going through emerging as a group of like 20 somethings into your 30s.

 

Alison Eakle:

And then when we pitched this idea to these other writers, they had had an idea of what had happened in their friend group, which is one of their really close friends had passed away. And that guy's parents had sort of become the parents of their friend group. And we wound up having this incredible meeting where we realized we could merge these ideas. And it was just one of those first experiences where Betsy and I were in the thick of it and I realized like, oh, this is it, this is what I wanted this to feel like and be like. I love the idea that I can have an idea, writers can make it better and bring their own experience to it and then I get to watch it just evolve.

 

Alison Eakle:

And it was such a well-received comedy pilot that at the very last minute we did not get to make it, but it was a great first experience in that first year at that company of like, A, I love this, B, I love why I'm working with on these projects and C, maybe I'm not terrible at it. Like that first moment you're like, oh, I should keep doing this. Which I think a lot of people don't talk about because I think you're supposed to pretend that you're just like a girl boss from day one and always had the confidence, but no, I mean, it truly took going through that first experience to be like, okay, I deserve to be in the room.

 

Chris Erwin:

Amazing. So very early on, everything felt right to you. This is the right team, this is the right role and did you get a sense that it's like, hey, this is a company I can be at for a really long time.

 

Alison Eakle:

I was like, hey, I hope they'll have me for a long time. Again, like even with the successes, I think there's always a moment where you're just like, what's the next thing I can do? Like I want to continue to earn this spot or earn their respect. And the other thing I just sort of lucked into was that at that same time that we were doing that comedy, we had six other drama projects in development, how it works as you sell ideas in pitches to the networks and then the writers write the scripts and around Christmas time, these networks were just in the network side, they would decide which ones they were actually going to shoot. And the one that they decided to shoot was How To Get Away With Murder. And so then even though my comedy pilot, that experience hadn't borne fruit in terms of being shot, I got to see that show be born and come to life.

 

Alison Eakle:

The other thing that happened in those first eight months I was there was that Rachel did leave Shondaland to go to another job at Fox 21, which is a studio. And again, I was terrified because the person who brought me in was gone and I was still getting my sea legs, but Betsy and Shonda were incredible. And I learned so much from them. And I got to all of a sudden just not limit myself to being like, hey, I'm the person who's here to do some comedy and I got to experience what it is to develop dramas and realized I loved that too.

 

Chris Erwin:

You mentioned it... Again I saw on an interview that you had like a handful of promotions within the first four to five years that you were there.

 

Alison Eakle:

Yes.

 

Chris Erwin:

So what did you feel that you were doing at the company that started to really stand out and have you get noticed?

 

Alison Eakle:

I was kind of the only one for a while. I feel like I don't know what I would necessarily pinpoint. I'd be interested to hear Betsy and Shonda say it. I think one of the things was not only did I have the things that I would get excited about and bring to the table, but I think that Shonda's excitement and Betsy's passion are really contagious. Right? I think very early on I realized, okay, they have fucking genius ideas. I can execute that. I can take that. I can run with it. I can get some progress going. I can find the writer. I can work on the vision of the writer. I also loved the fact that we had this incredible community of writers that had come up on all the Shondaland shows. So I think I really just threw myself fully into trying to make projects with them work and support them.

 

Alison Eakle:

And I think there's also a little bit of magic sometimes when taste and instincts lineup, the rest of it is sort of just to do the work, especially those early days. To this day, even after I've had a kid, which we'll talk about, I've never not worked on weekends, I've never not worked at night. Like even when I'm not working and I'm using air quotes, my brain is constantly going in terms of how to fix issues or how to approach strategically certain projects. And I think that they must have responded to it.

 

Chris Erwin:

Yeah. Because I think to you it was clear as it's not just work, this is a passion. It's like part of your essence. It's having like a creative mind wanting to support the creative community. I think like you were saying with Shonda and Betsy, you have this reputation where you could take an idea that they have and really nurture it and build it and make it even more special. So there's this trust that they're bestowing on you, but they really appreciate new ideas that you bring to the table. So then, okay, there's an exciting moment. You're there for around four years, 2017, then there's the big announcement that Shonda is leaving ABC for Netflix and what was reported to be, I think, the range is up to $150 million deal. What was that like? Was that something... Had you been working on that for a while? Was that something that you knew of? Was that something that was just dropped on you? What was that like to receive internally?

 

Alison Eakle:

I did know a little bit before the announcement came, I just was over the moon excited in terms of it being such a new learning opportunity for me, right? I know Shonda and Betsy had their excellent reasons for making that transition at that time when they did. Strictly speaking from my experience of it, I was just so interested in how different that could be, what restrictions would be lifted when you suddenly don't have to make television for network to fit that 42 minutes of a drama episode to kind of deal with broadcast standards and practices. But also just the idea that I think once we went to Netflix, it probably did also, at least in my opinion, as I spoke to people in the industry, it started to broaden their ideas of the kind of shows we made sometimes, sometimes not. Sometimes they'd still come to us and be like, "Here's Grey's Anatomy, but in a funeral home." Like they would still do that too, but there was a lot of people understanding that now we were going to do TV and movies.

 

Alison Eakle:

We could do comedies. We wanted to do genre. Like I think, especially by the time we were able to announce those first things we were working on kind of a year into the deal, it did make people understand that while they often thought of us in terms of, I will use the quote, sexy soap or serialize procedurals, the ambitions were so much bigger than that. And to get ready because we had a lot of things coming that you would not be able to do on network. And that was really liberating and exciting.

 

Chris Erwin:

Did everyone feel that same way? Was there anyone internal on the team or within your writer community that was like, "You know what? I want to work on network programming and going to a streamer is not a place I want to be."

 

Alison Eakle:

If that was happening, it was not something that I was privy to or that people were coming to talk to me about at all. Everybody was like, "I can't believe this. I'm so excited." And we're moving into new offices and all. It was just felt like a real thrum of excitement. And look, I think to this day, there are still writers who appreciate the consistency of a network job, but the whole business has changed. This is a conversation for another time in that residuals are not the same anymore. And there are so few shows like Grey's and Station 19 that can go that many episodes a season. Whereas writer you know you're booked kind of like August to April or whatever it is, I do think some writers probably miss that and will gravitate towards that kind of structure, that storytelling, all of that. But I didn't experience anyone being like, "Ooh, Netflix," at all.

 

Chris Erwin:

Okay. And maybe look, I think there was a lot of excitement at the moment. Was this announced right after Ryan Murphy's deal? I think he announced like a $300 million deal, was that-

 

Alison Eakle:

We were the first.

 

Chris Erwin:

You were the first.

 

Alison Eakle:

Shondaland was the first. Yeah. That was the first deal for Shondaland was the first of these big star producer deals. And I think Ryan Murphy, Kenya Barris, a few others came in like quick succession, but it was the first big announcement like this.

 

Chris Erwin:

Clearly it's working, right? So there's the big 2020 hit with Bridgerton. And then recent news, there's a re-up between Atlanta and Netflix are reported or confirmed or reported up to 400 million, but what was it like in that moment when Bridgerton which I think is the number one performing show on Netflix today, when that hit and your team started to get some of the success reporting, what was that feeling like? And were you involved in that show at all?

 

Alison Eakle:

Oh yeah. So I am a co-EP on the show and moving forward into seasons two, three, and four, I'll be working on it. It honestly was something where I still remember the day that Shonda was like, "There are these romance novels that are absolutely incredible. They would make a great show." I will be the first to admit I was like, "Romance novels, like grocery store paperback romance novels?" The genius that she is she's like, "Just read them. Just read one. Read The Duke and I." Which is the first book and is what season one is based on, the Simon and Daphne's story. And I read it in like one sitting, definitely started blushing about like 80 pages in for sure, but immediately I was like, oh, I get it. I get it. I understand the conceit of how this works for many seasons. I get why there's such a huge under-serviced fandom of this material. And they have not gotten to see some of their favorite stories brought to the screen and shot.

 

Alison Eakle:

It was so smart because she knew that people would clamor for that. And that audience had just not gotten to see those characters come to life, but also that there would be a broader reach. And also I think that it was such a surreal experience for me. I was incredibly pregnant. It was Christmas time. We had done post-production in COVID entirely from our homes remotely. Every music spotting session would be inimitable, Kris Bowers. Like all of it had been done remotely, all the posts. So it was like being in this kind of strange bubble and just sitting there as the holiday started just wondering how it would be received. And I don't think I could have ever anticipated what a mark on the culture it would have.

 

Chris Erwin:

I didn't even start thinking about the opportunity to romance space until Sarah Penna, who is one of the co-founders of the Big Frame where I was at right after school. And she had an idea that I think she's still working on with Lisa Berger called Frolic Media focused on, I think it's in a podcast network and digital video programming for female romcom romance enthusiast. And when she started telling me some of the numbers of how big this demo is, I was like hearing the success of Bridgerton, I am not surprised. So a new Netflix deal's announced and here's some exciting things like a focus of film, games, VR, branding, merchandising. There's a larger team from Bridgerton Ball that's coming up in November. So it's really extending your work streams and creating an audience experiences into a lot of new channels. Where is Shondaland today and where is it headed?

 

Alison Eakle:

The other side of the company that is the digital side, that is the podcast, the website, whatever shape and form this gaming and VR enterprise is going to take to it is incredibly exciting and I think a huge part of how my perspective on my job has shifted. And look, I've gotten to experience people often say like, "How have you been at a company for eight years?" And I was like, "This company is always evolving. The opportunities are always evolving. The work we're doing is always shifting and changing and growing." And it's part of why I was so excited to work with Shonda and Betsy in the beginning because I knew they had these bigger plans, right? World domination through incredible storytelling, very appealing, but I'm just really always trying to think to myself too synergy.

 

Alison Eakle:

Are there opportunities of things that we're working on that could translate to the podcast space or there could be a great story on the website about it and thinking more actively how do I talk to them about that and tell them about it before it's too far down the pike or vice versa, what are they working on that could be the next great show for Netflix or first documentary came out right before the holidays as well around Thanksgiving, Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker about the life and legacy of Debbie Allen as seen through her kind of like planning and staging this incredible her version of the Nutcracker?

 

Alison Eakle:

So we have a real hunger to do unscripted, both doc series, lifestyle, reality shows, things like that, the right kind of thing for the right kind of audience, the thing that we think will appeal to our fans and the people who love our material, but also Inventing Ana is going to be out soon, which is Shonda's next show that she created based on the incredible cut article from Jessica Pressler, how Anna Delvey tricked New York's party people about the Soho grifter, who basically found a way to make all the finance bros in New York and all the art people and all the fancy pants people in New York who believed she was a German heiress. An incredible kind of fake it till you make it American dream story from a very slanted interesting perspective.

 

Alison Eakle:

So I'm really excited for that show to hit and to launch and for people to see that it's a limited. That's like the next big thing on top of the fact that we have announced through Bridgerton season four to really get to service the Bridgerton's children's love stories. We've got a lot of story to tell. And then Shonda's next project is a project based on the life of young Queen Charlotte, who obviously is someone we featured heavily in the Bridgerton series. So that's some of the scripted coming down the line. We do have feature films in development. We have a lot of different genre TV shows that I don't think people would be necessary... Again, always trying to broaden the idea of what people think of as a Shondaland show, which is just incredible unexpected storytelling that has an incredibly human lens. A lot of different things coming down.

 

Chris Erwin:

All this program is going to be exclusive to Netflix, is that right?

 

Alison Eakle:

Yes. Exclusively in Netflix.

 

Chris Erwin:

Looking at the Shondaland website yesterday, and I saw the 2017 partnership with Hearst where you've launched a lifestyle website. You have this January, 2020 audio partnership with iHeart, where I think you're creating companion content to promote some of your series, but also maybe seeding some new IP, which is definitely a theme that we talk a lot about here at RockWater. But these are divisions that are separate from your purview, but you want to collaborate and you want to work together. And I think that'd be an awesome thing to do more of in the future. I'd love to see that.

 

Alison Eakle:

Oh yeah. It's a top-down mentality the idea of like, no, no, no, you guys, you're not just making content for Netflix and you're not just making content for Hearst to iHeart, this is Shondaland. This is a united family of people figuring out how to tell stories best.

 

Chris Erwin:

Last question, Alison, before we get to the rapid fire round. So you are a mother of one who is five months old.

 

Alison Eakle:

Yes.

 

Chris Erwin:

When you say you work nights, you work weekends, how does that change with a kid at home not just in terms of like time capacity, but also just how you think about your programming and where you want content to go in the world considering that you're raising someone new in it?

 

Alison Eakle:

That's a great question. I think I'm so in it right now. It's all still so new. I don't know yet the impact it'll have on me. And look, animation both for adults and children is something we've talked about a lot and gotten excited about that kind of programming. I'll be honest, I binge-watched the Babysitters Club with that best friend, Ashley, who we moved out here from New York together. I think there's incredible content for kids. I don't think my brain has fully processed yet how having this child is going to impact my creative work, but I do think it has changed how I work and yes, I just have less time right now because every minute I'm not with him, I inevitably am wondering, am I missing it? Am I missing something? Right? But I also realize there's a lot of time that he sleeps, not in the beginning, but now there is.

 

Alison Eakle:

And it's interesting how I think I used to be a real... I do get up very early with him and I do do great work in the morning, I feel, but I've really also become that person who eight o'clock hits and I take a minute for myself, but I do think to myself, okay, I have quiet. I have a couple of hours of quiet before I hit the, hey, how am I going to use this time? So I think I've just gotten smarter about time management and realized that like I can be sitting there rocking my baby, playing out, what kind of thoughts or how we might re-break a pilot in my head. I've just gotten a little bit more nimble in terms of how I use the time I have.

 

Chris Erwin:

I like that. And kind of what you are saying, Alison, reminds me of like the classic high school Adagio. If you have a really busy schedule, like a bunch of high school sports and everything, it just forces you to be more productive to get your work done in the time that you have and you're better. And then second, I think it's this beautiful new moment in your life that's giving you incredible new fulfillment and appreciation for what matters and it's a shock of the system. And I think shocks and changes are good to see things in different ways and that's good for creativity. You've had an amazing rise, who knows where you're going to go?

 

Alison Eakle:

Who knows?

 

Chris Erwin:

I'll close this out a quick interjection for me before rapid fire. Alison, known you for a long time, but admittedly have not been in close touch in recent years. So it's been exciting that we can come together I think at a dinner that I threw a couple of years ago, but also through this podcast. And I think just hearing your story, what I love and what feels so special is I'm hearing that there was no fear of trying things, of experimenting, putting yourself out there and following your heart. There was moments where like, look, growing up in Rumson where we were, your parents from Wall Street, I ended up going to Wall Street. Like that's what I was inspired to do. And you, I think you said, "No, there's something else that I want to do and give it a go." And then you went to Georgetown, you thought you were going to go down the political science path, but then you had that amazing class and you went with that. You trusted your gut.

 

Chris Erwin:

And I think you being able to listen to yourself and set up a very exciting career for you and an ability to do programming that's really a meaningful impact on people's lives and look at the success of Bridgerton and more to come. So it's really fun to see this journey and reflect on it. And I can't wait until we do the second podcast, which is like on this next page.

 

Alison Eakle:

Well, thank you. And thank you for having me on too. And also right back at you, it's watching an evolution of a career that's not in Hollywood always fascinates me a lot more than even watching the stuff inside the industry. I love everything that you are doing and juggling right now too.

 

Chris Erwin:

Appreciate that. All right. So rapid fire. Here's the rules. Six questions, short answers. It could be maybe one sentence or maybe just one or two words. Do you understand the rules?

 

Alison Eakle:

I mean, I'm a wordy mofo, but I will try to keep it to the one sentence or the one word.

 

Chris Erwin:

Okay, here we go. Proudest life moment.

 

Alison Eakle:

Navigating the return to work after having my son and not absolutely losing my mind.

 

Chris Erwin:

Got it. What do you want to do less of in 2021.

 

Alison Eakle:

Judge people.

 

Chris Erwin:

What do you want to do more of?

 

Alison Eakle:

Acts of service. I feel like I got away from that during COVID. Yes, acts of service.

 

Chris Erwin:

I like that. One to two things drive your success.

 

Alison Eakle:

As you said, willingness to try things and to experiment. And I think also a willingness to really listen to people and figure out what they want.

 

Chris Erwin:

What is your advice for media execs going into the back half of this year and into 2022.

 

Alison Eakle:

Now that I have a kid and less time than ever, I'm all about essentialism. And I think people have to remember that sometimes less is more, less is more. That's what I'll say. See, trying to be shot. Private is the sour word.

 

Chris Erwin:

Saying less is more and trying to do it in short with fewer words. Got it. Considering your parents entrepreneurship background, any future startup ambitions for you?

 

Alison Eakle:

I'm just going to say there's a lack of babysitters in Los Angeles, California, just babysitters, not nannies, just babysitters. It just crossed my mind I should start probably an adult babysitters club and definitely thinking about that. So I'm like, there's a market for just people who like to come out Saturday night and let you go to dinner.

 

Chris Erwin:

Okay. And have a babysitting there.

 

Alison Eakle:

It has nothing to do with Hollywood, but that's just my side project.

 

Chris Erwin:

I want to rewind quickly. Tell me a little bit more about you want to do less judging.

 

Alison Eakle:

I just realized I think kind of being locked away in my home, observing everything through screens, it's allowed some of those instincts to kind of look in a divided country. And so many factors played in the last year and a half. I just realized, I think I'm really hard on myself in a lot of ways and I think I sometimes can be really hard on other people. And I think becoming a mom has made me realize there's a lot of judgment around being a mom and being a working mom and the world does not need more of it. So it's something I'm actively just mindfully trying to be aware of and observe and pull back on.

 

Chris Erwin:

That's a beautiful note, Alison. Well said. Last rapid fire question. This is an easy one. How can people get in contact with you?

 

Alison Eakle:

Listen, I am still on Twitter. I definitely rolled back the number of fights I get into on Twitter with strangers, but @alisoneakle, just my name A-L-I-S-O-N E-A-K-L-E. You can DM me. I don't have a ton of DMs. I am a public profile, probably the easiest and most low key way to track me down.

 

Chris Erwin:

You heard it here. You can slide into Alison's DMs.

 

Alison Eakle:

That's right kids.

 

Chris Erwin:

All right. Alison, this was a delight. Thanks for being on the show.

 

Alison Eakle:

Thank you for having me truly.

 

Chris Erwin:

That was such a fun chat with Alison. We have so much history and admittedly, there's many years where we didn't talk and we've just started to reconnect more over the past few years and it's been really nice. That was a lot of fun. All right. A reminder everybody, we have a new podcast that's out. It's called The RockWater Roundup, where me and my colleague, Andrew Cohen, we break down media entertainment, E-commerce news in under 15 minutes. So we talk about it all. We talk about the audio wars. We talk about the recent exit of Hello Sunshine for 900 million, sports creator competitions like the Paul-Mayweather fight, live streaming and so much more. You can find it at rounduppodcast.com or on our website wearerockwater.com.

 

Chris Erwin:

Lastly, we love hearing from everybody. If you have any feedback on guests or on the show, we love hearing from you, shoot us a note at tcupod@wearerockwater.com. All right, that's it, everybody. Thanks for listening. 

The Come Up is written and hosted by me, Chris Erwin, and is a production of RockWater Industries. Please rate and review this show on Apple Podcasts and remember to subscribe wherever you listen to our show. And if you really dig us, feel free to forward The Come Up to a friend. You can sign up for our company newsletter at wearerockwater.com\newsletter and you can follow us on Twitter @tcupod. The Come Up is engineered by Daniel Tureck, music is by Devon Bryant, logo and branding is by Kevin Zazzali. And special thanks to Andrew Cohen and Mike Booth from RockWater Industries.

 


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 2021-09-09  1h0m