By Benét J. Wilson, DJTF co-chair, Online Managing Editor-Business Aviation, Aviation Week Group
I had the pleasure of meeting Brandon Gillespie at last year’s National Association of Black Journalists annual conference in Tampa, Fla. He is a 2006 graduate of the University of North Texas, with a general studies degree, concentrating in journalism, human resources and psychology.
During a chat at the Wear White pool party, we talked about what Gillespie to do with his life. He was about to start work on his masters of education in community counseling at Howard University. His plan was to combine his producing/broadcasting/graphics/counseling skills to create his own TV talk show.
Now it looks like Gillespie is a step closer to that goal. I was checking my Facebook account and saw a link on his profile to his video audition for a contest to get a show on the new Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). “About a month and a half ago, I was looking on the Internet right after Oprah previewed some of the shows that would be on OWN, and one was Your Own Show,” he recalled. “She wanted to do a reality show on finding the next TV star host. I read about it and went to the website, which only said stay tuned for more information.”
Last week, the contest was officially opened. “This is a dream for me. I want to be a talk show host and who better to produce my show than Harpo Productions, the best of the best,” said Gillespie.
Gillespie got right to work on the video, but discovered his camera was dead. “I had to wait two hours for my batteries to recharge. I love graphic design and animation and did it in college and at an internship at NBC Art Works in Dallas, the graphics hub for NBC O&Os,” he said. “So I worked on my graphics until the camera charged up.”
It took Gillespie 10 minutes to record his unscripted pitch, and then another hour to put it together. “Then it took me about 40 minutes to answer her questions attached as part of the video upload,” he said.
One of the best parts of the video is Gillespie chatting it up with Oprah’s BFF Gayle King. “Gayle King was in Washington, D.C., two weeks ago for Oprah’s National No Phone Zone Day. I wanted to talk with her about the no phone zone effort for my Internet program The Brandon Show,” he said.
After standing in line for an interview, Gillespie said he was cut off by King’s assistants, who said she had to catch a flight. “So I asked for a picture, but it was really a video camera, so I told my producer to keep rolling,” he recalled. “I asked for 20 seconds and she was so gracious and kind. She really believes in Oprah’s mission to get people off phones out of the call. Her handlers were gesturing to me, but it was a great interview.”
So far, Gillespie has had 3433 views of his video and 6704 votes for his show. “I’m really bad at promoting myself. I tend to do things and let my work speak for itself, but with something like this, that’s not the way to do it,” he said. “I’ve posted the video on Facebook and my friends have been posting and voting without me even asking. It feels great to have that support.” Gillespie is also using his Twitter account — @brandonvivo – to get the word out.
OWN is holding auditions in 4 cities – Los Angeles, Dallas, New York City and Atlanta. “I am going in person to audition, either in New York or my home town of Dallas because those auditions are in front of producers from Harpo Productions. “It’s a great opportunity to talk with them about the show I want to do on OWN,” he said. “From there, they choose contestants for a reality show where you do challenges to prove you can be a talk show host, and I hope to win the competition.”
So go check out Gillespie’s video and vote!