Editor’s Note: “The Reel Black List” is our annual spotlight of brothers and sisters in the worlds of advertising, film, TV, music, radio and media who are making a difference through their contributions and creativity. For the next 29 days, you will be able to celebrate these various personalities with us.
Her mantra is, “If you don’t have a seat at the table, bring your own chair!” So far that seems to have worked very well for four-time Daytime Emmy® Award-nominated Producer and Telly Award winning Writer and Executive Producer, Sybil Curry. A television, film and the music industry vet, Sybil has produced lifestyle shows, live award shows, reality, true crime, talk and court shows for FOX, NBC, ABC, HGTV, BET, Food Network and Comedy Central networks among others.
Sybil’s father, Andrew B. Ferguson, Jr. won an Emmy® Award for the children’s program, The Electric Company. Following in her father’s footsteps, she has produced award winning shows such as; The Dr. Phil Show and The Tyra Banks Show, as well as syndicated court shows; Divorce Court, America’s Court with Judge Ross and Judge Joe Brown among others.
She’s a content developer and produces sizzle reels. She also produces events through her company, Luv-A-Bull Productions. Sybil is a current member of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and The Producers Guild of America.
What Did You Originally want to be when you grow up? I guess I always knew I was going to be in the entertainment industry in some way. I thought about acting, but my true calling was writing and producing. When I was about 10 years old I used to put together a variety show night when me and my siblings would spend our summer’s in New York with my father.
My father, stepmother and baby sister were the audience. I would write short sketches, and me, my brother and sister would act them out. We would perform song and dance numbers, magic acts and of course comedy sketches! My sister would be the host of the show and wear a suit and a big afro wig in true Soul Train fashion! Summer Saturday nights in my house were always a stone cold gas! I didn’t realize it then, but I was actually producing shows and I loved it!
How Did You Get into the Film and TV Industry? I started off in radio and the music industry as a Special Projects Coordinator at a radio syndicated program called, RadioScope. The show catered to an urban audience and all the “who’s who” in Black music and entertainment would come to our offices for exclusive interviews. I made a lot of contacts in that space, but always knew I wanted to get into TV. I attended a lot of networking events and went to one that was hosted by Warner Bros.
I made some connections and got a job in their Human Resources department. From there, I went to Telepictures which was a Warner Bros. liaison. I was a Facilities Manager in the Business and Finance department, facilitating office space for all their ongoing television programs and pilots. I was there for 8 years in a corporate environment. Over the years, I won achievement awards for my work, but I always knew I wanted to produce. Dave Benavente, was a great boss and mentor while I was there.
One day I met with him and told him the truth. I wasn’t unhappy with my job, after all it was stable, great benefits and everything, but I knew I had to leave. He was fully supportive. He advised me to meet with producers and talk to them about what they did day to day. He knew I would have to start at the bottom and work my way up on the TV production side. He also warned me about the job instability before I took the plunge. I told him I was ready, and he believed in me.
He was able to get me my first real production job on a prime time ABC show called, Are You Hot? as Head Production Coordinator. It was scary and unpredictable and TV production
Who Were Your Mentors? Along with my boss Dave Benavente, my father, Andrew B. Ferguson, Jr. was a big influence. He was a TV Producer, and produced children’s TV shows like, Sesame Street. He was also instrumental in the development of the Sesame Street spin-off show, The Electric Company. He won an Emmy award in 1976-1977 for Outstanding Informational Children’s Series for that show. My father encouraged me to always unleash the creativity that lived inside of me. Unfortunately, he is no longer with us, but I have his Emmy Award statue as a constant reminder to keep my eyes on the prize!
What Drives You to Create? I love to see what I can visualize clearly in my head come to life. I was inspired to write and produce my short fashion film, “Balance of Power.” As opposed to a narrative short, I wanted a series of visuals and music to take the audience on a discovery of what goes on behind the closed doors of an unconventional relationship.
Balance of Power won the 2018 People’s Telly Award; and was just awarded the ‘Best Experimental Film Award’ at the 2020 Los Angeles Movie Awards. Our plan is to eventually expand the world of Balance of Power into a TV series utilizing the same formula, but alternating the music, plots and actors in order to create different tones and showcase different genres of music.
I also recently wrote a short play called, Interrupted. It was selected to be included in Short+Sweet Sydney 2020, the world’s largest festival of 10 minute plays. My play will be cast, produced and brought to the stage in Australia. I’m excited to see my script come to life! My goal is to get my content in front of all types of viewing audiences to help execute to the next level.
One of my ultimate goals is to win an Emmy that will be proudly displayed alongside my father’s Emmy statue sitting on my fireplace mantle.
Biggest Achievement? My biggest achievement in the entertainment industry are my four Daytime Emmy nominations. The first year I was actually a double nominee having worked on two court shows that were nominated. I was nominated two more times in the same category. It was humbling to know that all four of my nominations were actually from the episodes that I cast, wrote and produced. To know that the Academy recognized my work was truly an honor, and it solidified my belief that I’m working in my purpose and on the right path. .
Biggest Disappointment? I guess the biggest disappointment in my career so far, was not winning the Emmy four times! I know I’ve come a long way, and I really never imagined I would even come close. I’ve come too far to give up now, and I’ll get that statue soon. Don’t believe me just watch!
Predictions for TV Over the Next Ten Years? The streaming wars will continue to increase, and consumers will seek more diverse options over the next decade. Competitors will be constantly looking to push the boundaries and will need more content for their libraries to attract and retain their customers.
That is niche I intend to fulfill. Luv-A-Bull Productions is an up and coming independent film, video and multi-media production company. We are passionate story tellers that are dedicated to the art of combining entertainment value with the human experience.
We are a one-stop shop for your production needs. Services include, but are not limited to; script writing, music and promotional videos, sizzle reels, editing, commercials, demo reels, documentary filmmaking and event planning. Our mission is to continue to create, inspire and enlighten with thought provoking content
Name Your Biggest Pet Peeves? In this business, the insincerity is out of control! Say what you mean and mean what you say. Please don’t say yes if you really mean no! If you find people in this business to collaborate and connect with that are truly genuine, stick with them because you’ve found a gem.
Name a Job You Had That Would Surprise People I think I was more surprised that I took this job! I took a job as a Special Projects Assistant for Ruthless Records. I was brought in with a team to work at the record company in the interim after Rapper, Eazy E, the owner of the record company, had just passed away.
Easy E’s wife and Jerry Heller were in a nasty dispute over who owned the company and its rights. “Bone, Thugs and Harmony” were one of their chart topping artists, and we were brought in to keep things running smoothly while the company was in turmoil. I didn’t realize going in that there were so many death threats being slung around because of the disagreement! Not at my team, but it was definitely in the air.
We ended up having a round-the-clock armed sheriff sitting at the door of our office that was at a non-disclosed location. Our team persevered, and “Bone, Thugs and Harmony” continued to be a very successful group. I was awarded a platinum album for their hit record, “First of the Month”
What do You Wish You Had More Time for? I wish I had more time to travel and learn about the people, places and things that this country and the world has to offer. The more I’m aware of and learn about different cultures and perspectives, the better storyteller and creator I will become.
What Famous Actor Plays You in Your Life Story? I’ve always admired the incomparable, Angela Bassett as an actress and activist. Not only is she beautiful, but a true talent and a gifted artist. Her career has been built on playing some of the greatest and iconic women in history. I would only hope to have a story that would live up to her ability to portray my life.