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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The It Factor: Alongside executive producer Mona Scott-Young, Carlos King, 33, was part of launching a new edition to an already widely successful franchise, Love & Hip-Hop. Love & Hip-Hop: Atlanta. It’s yet another cult-classic to add to an already impressive list of production credits which include The Real Housewives franchise, as well as Oprah’s Season 25: Behind the Scenes and Don’t Be Tardy for the Wedding. The founder of Kingdom Reign Entertainment is working in pre-production for season 2 of Love & Hip-Hop: Atlanta, as well as other heavyweight projects.

The Process: A Detroit native, Carlos moved to New York midway through his sophomore year of college. As a student at Wayne State University, he decided to transfer to Hunter College to pursue a bachelor’s degree in mass communications. “I always knew the way to leave my mark in this in this industry was to network, so I was like the king of internships. I interned [everywhere] from a small gospel radio station [to] Teen People, The View… 20/20 to Prime Time Live … MTV, BET, to Def Jam. I just wanted to network. I would always have an internship every semester.”

The Risky Leap: Interning “everywhere” finally paid off. In 2005, he was hired as a production assistant for BET Style hosted by Big Tigger and Melyssa Ford. He worked on the show for a year and eventually decided to drop out of college. “I was in geography class bored, and I was sitting there, [thinking] ‘I have a job at BET and everybody around me is dying to get a job out of college. I already have that. My career is booming and I need to strike while the iron is hot!’ ” After making the decision, Carlos gave his full energy to BET, working on the networks’ shows and specials. He got the opportunity to participate in many of the network’s flagship programs, from 106 & Park to Spring Bling. In fact, he says he was even part of selecting former hosts Terrance J and Rocsi Diaz.

Defining Moments: King’s mentor, Joyce Chen, approached him with a job offer to work on a brand new reality TV project, The Real Housewives of Atlanta. Carlos says “Financially, it made no sense for me to go to Atlanta because I wasn’t being put up in housing; I wasn’t going to make any money, but I realized the bigger picture.”

King moved to Atlanta for four months to work on the show as an associate producer. “When I went to Atlanta in 2008, I immediately knew that this show was going to be a big hit. It was instant! I knew that it was the best decision I had ever made in my career.” The Atlanta installment went on to be Bravo’s most successful. “After I did season 1 of Atlanta, I went back to New York and got a call to do The Real Housewives of New Jersey. The producers knew I was already familiar with the Housewives format. I did Jersey Housewives season one, and then that rolled back over into doing season two of Atlanta, and after season two of Atlanta was up, I was asked to do season two of New Jersey.”

While working on another season for the Housewives franchise, King got a call from a producer, who worked with him on the New Jersey installment. “[He said] ‘I got this project that stars Oprah. Are you interested?’ I replied, ‘Is that a trick question? Oprah Winfrey is like my idol!’ ” Finally King knew he was meant to be a reality television producer.

The Advice: King urges the importance of securing internships. He says it’s important you do what you have to do to make yourself known and noticed because you can easily be forgotten. Finally, he adds, don’t take anything personal. “This is a mistake most young professionals make. This is the type of job where you have to have thick skin. You get cursed out a lot, because they’re hormonal … NeNe [Leakes] has cursed me out a few times. I’ve been yelled at by everybody, from NeNe to Sheree [Whitfield] to Kim [Zolciak]. I’ve been all types of names, but you know … it’s all in love.”

Carlos King Talks Reality TV On-Air Fights

Are the conversations and relationships we see on reality TV authentic? Meh, fans may never get to the bottom of that one, but viewers can believe the infamous fights that they see between reality TV stars.

The fights are real and some seem predictable after editing, but how prepared are show producers for the drink splashing, bottle throwing and hair pulling? Are they worried about their own safety while the cameras roll?

S2S talked with producer Carlos King, who worked on all four seasons of Bravo’s “Real Housewives of Atlanta” and currently is an Executive Producer for VH1’s “Love and Hip Hop Atlanta,” for his behind-the-scene perspective on reality fights.

Carlos was on set when Sheree Whitfield tugged at Kim Zolciak’s wig on Season 1 of “Real Housewives of Atlanta.” “That was my first time experiencing some hand-on-body action. So as a producer we’re all just so shocked and surprised it was happening,” Carlos recalled. “And of course if it ever got physical we would break it up.”

Once they get to know their cast, the producers can start to anticipate their actions.

“When it comes to ‘Love and Hip-Hop’ we have security on set. So whenever someone gets physical, security jumps in and kind of breaks the fights up. But on ‘Housewives’ we don’t have security on set because it’s just not that type of show,” Carlos told S2S.

Fans of “LHHATL” got a glimpse of Carlos de-escalating K.Michelle after her table shaking argument with Karlie Redd in episode five, but the people you see stepping between fighting divas aren’t always producers.

“The security guards are insured,” Carlos explained. “Whereas the producers are more focused on telling the story, and if we get hit with a glass, you know, that’s a whole big issue. So that’s why we have security on set.”

While Carlos insists that reality shows are not scripted, he says his job entails getting the cast to confront difficult situations and people they may usually avoid. This role leads to producers being blamed for instigating situations that lead to fights.

Carlos is proud that he has not been a part of a show that is known for fighting, but it “LHHATL” has its moments. Hopefully, he won’t face anything as dangerous as Kimbella and Erica Mena’s fight on “Love and Hip Hop” New York where champagne flutes were thrown.

“I didn’t work on ‘Love and Hip Hop’ New York so when those glasses were being thrown, I was like, ‘How would I deal with that?’ But that’s real life stuff. If the cameras weren’t rolling I’m sure that they would be throwing more than just glasses.”

The “Love and Hip Hop Atlanta” reunion show is sure to be drama-filled, but the question is: Will anyone put ‘dem paws’ on their cast mate?