Fennella Bruce is an accomplished television producer and writer. With over 20 years of journalism experience, she founded a busy media consulting business, FKB Media Solutions, and a media production house, FKB Media Productions Inc. Bruce took time out of her busy schedule to speak about overcoming challenges, what inspires her, and the next exciting chapter of her career.
You take on many roles as a creator, TV producer, entrepreneur and writer. What are you most excited for next?
I started a new company, FKB Media Productions, and I’m going to be producing my first documentary, which will be about Maestro Fresh Wes. I had been pitching through TIFF’s The Big Pitch [which is a pitch competition for Canadian BIPOC women through the Toronto International Film Festival and Caribbean Tales Media group]. There’s a lot of excitement about the documentary, so hopefully I will have some interest from major broadcasters and streamers. We’re working on developing it and hope to start shooting next year, aiming for a 2024 release date. I’m really excited about this.
I’m also developing a show with reality TV star Jillian Danford [a.k.a. Auntie Jillian]. This will be under my production company, as well as other content such as a live stream series called Inspire. It’s in partnership with the University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus with their hub incubator program, where I interview entrepreneurs who have overcome barriers to success.
As a leader and entrepreneur, what advice would you give to others wanting to build their business and become successful?
Reputation is everything. I always say Toronto is a “big city, small town.” You want to make sure that your reputation is intact, and people say good things about you. Since starting my business four and a half years ago, I have done no paid advertising. Everything has come through my reputation and referrals.
It’s important to prioritize reliability. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. This comes back to reputation for delivering results and outcomes. The last thing is respect. I treat people as I want to be treated. If you want to be respected, then you have to show respect to others. That means listening, communicating, and talking to people respectfully.
It can be very hard, particularly when you’re an entrepreneur, to outsource things or to delegate to others. I tell people, “Don’t try to do everything. Figure out what it is that you can outsource. What is your time worth? Really put a value on it and then you will see how much more you can accomplish.” Also, schedule time to relax. If you don’t take a minute to take a breath, you’re going to burn out, and you’re not going to be any good to anybody.
Reflection is also valuable. I always take the last two months to reflect on the year: see what was working, throw out what wasn’t, and keep what was good. Look ahead to the year that’s coming. Examine your business plan and understand the direction of your business.
What inspires you?
I would say my clients and the things they’re doing. I generally don’t take on anybody that I’m not excited about! It inspires me through watching their successes, turning on a TV or opening a paper, and knowing that I played a role in that happening. It inspires me to keep going and to try to get a platform for as many people as I can. This is particularly true for the Black community and, in certain areas, for women, where our voices are not heard. We aren’t considered experts on certain topics, so when I see that changing, it inspires me to continue.
There can often be barriers and obstacles within any industry. What challenges have you faced and how do you overcome them?
I think one of the challenges that I face as a producer, or when I’m doing a story, is people saying no. There are a lot of people that have turned me down, not wanting to do an interview, or tell their story. There’s a need for tenacity in how you overcome that, not taking it personally, and just persevering. I was once pitching to a morning show, and the producer said no. Every time he came back with that answer, I came back with another option. I don’t want to pester people, but it’s also understanding when to walk away and that a “no” doesn’t mean “never.”
You have received many accolades including being recognized as one of 2020’s 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women, as well as 2022’s Business Woman of the Year by the Women Empowerment Awards. Can you speak about what this means to you?
Both of those awards are very meaningful to me. For the 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women, that came from my community. To be recognized by my peers, by my elders — Dr. Jean Augustine, Dauna Jones-Simmonds, Dr. Denise O’Neil Green — they’re a part of the founders of this award. There’s also a committee, and I’m thrilled to be nominated and recognized by them. It really touched me tremendously to be part of that sisterhood and see how we uplift each other. At the gala, it was a wonderful feeling to see so many accomplished Black women doing such great things. It was amazing.
The Business Woman of the Year was significant in a few ways. I don’t know who nominated me and I probably only knew about five or six people in that room. So, they were judging me on my work in the last four years. To be recognized by complete strangers and by this organization of women’s empowerment, I was blown away. To be in such amazing company and to be honoured in that way, I don’t even know how to describe the feeling as it was very emotional for me.
Stephanie Hawkins | Contributing Writer