Yvette Araujo knows there are no shortcuts in life. She has faced and overcome her fair share of hurdles in order to achieve the success she currently enjoys. Yvette is the founder and CEO of Trinity Films Productions and author of Fallen: The Book Series, a supernatural trilogy. We sat down and spoke with Yvette about her thoughts on diversity and creativity as a black woman in Hollywood.
What was it like growing up in Detroit, Michigan? Did you face adversity as a young black girl?
Yes, I remember the first time I heard the word “nigger.” I didn’t even understand the word or what it meant but it made me feel dirty and bad inside. It made me feel like a stain on humanity.
You are a black creator in Hollywood. Where do you think the industry can improve to help eliminate the lack of diversity in the entertainment industry?
It can improve by having diversity on the inside — the boardrooms, the executives that make decisions — just as much, if not more, than the outside. Having creators on the inside helps the industry become less “tone deaf” when developing movies, casting or representation.
Where does your love for art stem from?
I’d say from watching the classics, both movies and music. And dance too, which my mum exposed me to at a very young age.
You are a mother who had to work double and triple shifts to put food on the table. How do you think that helped shape you into the person you are today?
Well, in many ways it had both a positive and negative impact. Positive in terms of the work ethic I needed to be the person that “gets the job done,” and the amount of self-esteem required to really push the envelope. The negative would be to “trust no one,” ask for nothing, and to only rely on me and what I can control. To this day I have a tendency to want to control everything myself.
You executive produced the 2002 talk show “Sister Blvd.,” which was eventually sold to the Hallmark Channel. For the individuals that are not familiar with the network buying process, can you take us through it?
Well, when I produced “Sister Blvd” I was brilliantly ignorant and in many ways it was blissful. “No” was not a word I even understood. So when we were met with moderate success, to me it was expected. I thought our home at PAX TV was “forever.” I had procured the advertisers, hand selected cast and crew. I took out a second mortgage on the home that I designed and built (which I subsequently lost in foreclosure), so I was very much surprised and devastated that a bigger network could just come in and takeover the smaller one without warning us and then choose the programming it wanted while deleting the others. But it is business, so in hindsight maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised. Nothing shocks me anymore.
In 2006, you founded Trinity Films Productions. Can you talk about some of the obstacles you went through during the beginning stages?
Trinity Films Productions was the “phoenix from the ashes” of Ground Floor Productions, my prior company that produced “Sister Blvd.” Again I felt it was a second opportunity in a new environment (California) to make magic. The obstacles were new. California was new. And everyone here was on a much grander level of hunger and ambition. Being a big deal in a small pond was over. California is and continues to be a game changer for an independent production company and a filmmaker in this vast ocean of industry sharks. I went from being awe struck to “this is the norm.” It’s a much harder fight and very different struggle than before.
You are also the author of the “Fallen” book series. Do you have any plans to release other books?
I intend to finish a crime novel that I have nursed along for 15 years. Life happens, but I’m looking to finish it and foster it into a feature length film.
Do you have any other productions in the works and, if so, when can we expect them to be released?
“American Mexican” is a docu-drama of ours set between the two worlds of two countries, United States and Mexico. It’s based on man born American but is Mexican by heritage. “Syn” is my multimillion-dollar project that was written over a decade ago. It is about humans that meet their demise in different circumstances only to learn that their deaths are only the beginning of who and what they are. And I have a podcast coming soon with Jaime Rae. It will be an extension and blending of Womanstrong.org — conversations on women’s issues with topics like empowerment, workforce development, domestic violence, depression — all related to women.
Originally posted on The Hype Magazine.