My mom came to a meeting with my first grade teacher with high hopes for a good report about her brilliant daughter but the teacher said, “Frankly, Mrs. Sallaway, she’s a busybody.” Apparently, I would finish all my work ‘too fast’ and go bother everyone else. I thought I was helping; motivating, organizing, moving the team to a goal. It’s still what I do every day as a producer. We producers are gregarious, empathetic and relentless: think General Contractor meets MacGyver meets a Party Planner.
Looking back, coming to produce Nature’s Genius was a fit that was just going to happen. After getting a Geology Degree in Resource Management and spending 2 months coloring maps for an oil company, I quit my ‘good job’ and never looked back. I left to crew on a yacht in the Virgin Islands and met Jean Michelle Cousteau in Miami. Inspired, I became a Dive Master and led ‘Save The Reef’ efforts in Queensland, Australia.
Years later, returning to dry land, I ended up in another exotic location: Detroit. My energy and love for travel met its match with my first foray into TV production with Independent Producers for ESPN. I quickly discovered what made me unorthodox in the corporate world makes me versatile and creative in the ever-changing production world. I felt charged with tremendous power and responsibility. What I did now would go on my permanent record.
Over time I produced all sorts of things: reality shows, Super Bowl events, feature films, biker shows and commercials. I stayed connected to the preservation of the planet: as the Communications Director for the Green Chamber of Commerce in Phoenix, in helping eco-startups, taking a year off to volunteer on a conservation project in Costa Rica. Just as I was leaving there I also managed to reconnect with some of my underwater friends at a Sea Turtle sanctuary, it made me think maybe people had listened to a message I had something to do with, a story started decades earlier.
Over the course of work and travel, I realized that story matters. I love real life stories and real people. My goal became to find the most interesting people with a story to tell, and for production, to stay in the unscripted and documentary world. For me, some of those people became an award-winning documentary about a program that teaches computer coding to high school girls in the suburbs of Dar Es Salaam. They were change-makers in communities in Africa and dropouts making millions, construction workers who build hot rods and a last surviving World War II veteran.
Now I am embarking on the biggest story I will ever tell. Nature’s Genius.