Finest: Carlos King

In chess, the king is the most important piece. In reality television, the same rule applies, especially in the case of Carlos King. This producing powerhouse has been making all the right moves in a career that seems unstoppable.

The Detroit native started off as a self-proclaimed “insatiable intern” on a series of studio and staged shows including The View, 20/20, Primetime Live and 106 & Park. After valuable time as a production assistant at BET Networks, King got an offer to produce The Real Housewives of Atlanta, and taking that job became the first of countless career power moves.

“When I stepped into reality television, it became all about the opportunity to engage in storytelling,” he says. That talent eventually helped King realize a childhood dream: working alongside Oprah Winfrey, as a producer on Season 25: Oprah Behind the Scenes. “I enjoyed that Oprah owned up to being a boss. She was unapologetic. That was something I took from her.”

Now, a boss in his own right, King is not only CEO of Kingdom Reign Entertainment but also co-executive producer on the highly rated (and highly controversial) show Love & Hip Hop Atlanta. Regarding the hot button hit, King says, “I love the fact that I get to go to work every day and shape people’s lives. People may say that I play a part in making people look bad on television, but it’s the complete opposite. This position allows me to give these women a voice to tell their real-life stories, and people want to see this on television.”

King credits much of his career’s progression to his sexuality. “I wouldn’t be where I am [professionally] if I wasn’t gay,” he says. “It’s what’s gotten me in the door. My personal niche is producing women. They don’t feel threatened and always seem to find comfort in trusting me as a nonjudgmental best-friend type. They tell me everything, and that’s needed to be a great producer—and the males respect my honesty and openness, too.”

What’s next? “After season 2 of LHHA wraps, I’ll be developing some shows on my own. I’m good at it and I’m not ashamed to say that. Like Janet Jackson once said, ‘What I can’t do, I will stay away from, but what I can do, I’ll make sure I do it better than anyone else.’”
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Behind The Scenes With Carlos King

“Be patient, work hard, know that God’s working for you, and never let your age define your success.” Carlos King offers up this sage advice from the standpoint of one who has lived its truth. With his recent success working as Co-Executive Producer for Love and Hip Hop Atlanta, a reality show which attracted an enormous following of more than 3 million viewers with its season premiere alone, King is living proof that patience, faith, and hard work can indeed pay off.

As a young boy growing up in the “Motor City” under the watchful eye of a father who toiled for the Ford Motor Company for twenty long years, Carlos King had already set his sights elsewhere. He recalls living amongst many plant workers who defined their success by whether or not they worked for one of the “Big 3” plants. While he respected the work that his father did, he decided early on that Detroit life was not for him. He kept himself sane by watching television, a past time which fueled his dreams of working in the entertainment industry.

“Detroit isn’t really the type of place for entertainment,” King explains. “Being somebody that just knew that I wanted to get involved in the entertainment industry somehow, I was always this kid who just dreamed of making it big and moving to New York City. I always had this type of ambition because I knew that I didn’t want to just live in Detroit for the rest of my life, and when the opportunity came for me to move to NY you know the rest was history!”

After moving to New York in 2002 and interning for big time shows the likes of The View and 20/20, he eventually went on to work for BET as a production assistant. It was during his stint there that his mentor, Joy Chen, called and offered him the opportunity to work on the then new reality show called The Real Housewives of Atlanta.

“I was like, ‘Oh God—I got to move to Atlanta for like 3 months’, and the money wasn’t going to be good; I was going to have to take a pay cut, so it wasn’t going to be an easy transition for me. But I always saw the bigger picture because I wanted to do reality. I started working on The Real Housewives of Atlanta and it was the best decision I ever made, because that kind of jumpstarted everything for me. It has been nonstop for me since 2008. That show really propelled my career to unforeseen heights, and you know I never regretted that decision.”

He continued to work on Atlanta housewives as a producer for four years before moving on to become the Co-Executive Producer for Love and Hip Hop Atlanta with Mona Scott Young, the Executive Producer of the series. Through word of mouth he heard that Young was bringing the then New York based show to Atlanta, and he eagerly jumped at the opportunity. The show became an immediate success, earning recognition as the top rated cable show for women 18-49 years old.

“I called Mona Scott Young myself and I told her that I wanted to work on the show,” King recalls. “We had a meeting like the next day and she fell in love with me; I fell in love with her—and she got me a position as Co-Executive Producer. When I came on board they were already casting and I cast Carly. I was like, ‘Mona, Carly is going to be good; she’s messy, trust me!’ I knew immediately after seeing Jocelyn and the whole love triangle that this show was going to be a monster hit. And then it became the number one show on cable!” King proudly exclaims.

As though having the number one cable reality show isn’t noteworthy enough, King also has a few other projects under his sleeve. He has been working on a new show with his good friend and mentor, Tyler Perry. Called Tyler Perry Comes to OWN, the show premieres May 26th on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Network. Prior to working on this project, King worked with Winfrey as a show producer for Oprah Behind the Scenes for a year. It was under Winfrey’s tutelage that he learned how to run a production empire as the Oprah Winfrey show was embarking on its final season.

“It was definitely a blessing being able to work with her,” says King, “and just kind of be a sponge and watch how she operates, and just really learn how to run an empire.”

King also has a new production company called Kingdom Reign that he is especially proud of. The company came into fruition in September and has been growing ever since. In addition to developing shows, the company provides consultations for people who are interested in pitching shows. It also helps develop talent for those who are interested in doing, or are already involved in, reality television.

“I want to continue developing shows that are hot topics discussions for people who love to watch reality TV, explains King. “I don’t think this genre is going anywhere, so I really just want to take things to the next level and have my company be the premiere destination for the reality shows that ignite controversy and conversation [while offering] really quality programming.”

Season 2 of Love and Hip Hop Atlanta will premiere on Monday, April 22nd at 8p.m.