Rikki Hughes is a veteran producer who began her television career producing award shows and comedy specials. Though she planned on going to medical school, she was sidetracked by the entertainment business, which lead her to produce Katt Williams’s special It’s Pimpin Pimpin’.
Currently, Hughes is the showrunner and executive producer of Comedy Central’s currently airing series, Hood Adjacent, based on the comedy of James Davis, which premiered on June 28th.
In this exclusive, the talented Rikki goes on to explain how she is a bright and shining star even though she is behind the cameras.
What aspired you to go from medical school to the entertainment business?
Soon after I graduated from the University of Washington, I met George Jackson and he was producing Jason’s Lyric. At that time, sound tracks were his companion piece and marketing tool to a film’s success. George asked me about fresh musical talent.
I worked with Warren G. and his uncle/manager Ron G. and I was asked to go on the road to help manage Warren. Surprisingly enough, my parents thought it was a great opportunity to travel the world. I was supposed to go back to school, but I got the entertainment bug and never looked back.
How did you get the job producing Katt Williams’s special called It’s Pimpin Pimpin’?
Like most of my career, the Katt Williams’s project came by word of mouth. My dear friend and colleague John Cossette said “There is no one that can bring this one home…you better call Rikki!” It’s all history from there.
Do you face a lot of competition being an African-American woman in a male dominated position?
There aren’t many women who do what I do and definitely not African American women in this comedy space. I never worry about competition. I’ve learned to put my best foot forward and I have continued to find success. In this case, I don’t feel it was a race issue, just a matter of who is best suited to get the job done.
Tell us about what you’re working on right now.
I’m honored that such great talents have trusted me with their craft. I recently produced Dave Chappelle’s The Age of Spin comedy special that recently aired on Netflix. Also, the show I executed produced for Comedy Central called Hood Adjacent with James Davis is currently airing.
I recently shot a comedy special with Stan Lathan and Russell Simmons for HBO that has been picked up for series and finally, I’m producing a series for Lionsgate with a client that I manage, Emmanuel Hudson, who is a social influencer/actor.
On July 1st, my independent movie #DigitalLivesMatter aired on UMC featuring DC Young Fly and Emmanuel Hudson.
What is the job description of a producer, showrunner and what do you bring to the table when producing shows?
Producing is problem-solving and prioritizing. I bring a sense of calm to an often chaotic environment. After producing many years of live shows, I’ve learned a calm head prevails and if I’m rattled, my whole team will falter.
As a show runner, I’m in charge of the entire production from top to bottom. It’s my job to drive the creative, engage with the network and deliver the final project (on a budget). I often find I wear many hats as mom, confidant, enforcer, and leader.
I see you produce a lot of comedy, what draws you to that genre?
Laughter is healing and the greatest sound to my ears. I have been fortunate to find some great comedic voices and I consider it my honor to protect and nurture that voice. Comedy provides the audience with a departure from their own reality. I have a great respect for comics as they have the power to transform a moment.
What advice can you give to females trying to make it in this business?
Recognize that you have your own lane and don’t try to compete with the “boys club.” When you love what you do and do good work, you will continue to succeed. I have never been discouraged by a “No.”
Do you have any mentoring events or charities you support?
I’ve been on the Diversity Committee of the Producers Guild of America for the last 6 years a very rewarding experience. I also produce the Media Access Awards every year where we continue to shine a light on members of the entertainment and broadcast industries for their efforts in promoting awareness of the disability experience, access and the accurate portrayal of characters with disabilities. Both of these projects are labors of love that I look forward to annually. I have never had a mentor, so I often find myself mentoring up and coming African American women in this industry.
Rikki Hughes has spearheaded numerous awards and comedy specials including the BET Hip Hop Awards, Dear Mama, A Mother’s Day Special for VH-1, BET’s 25th Anniversary Special and Dave Chappelle’s recent comedy specials on Netflix called The Age of Spin, amongst many others.