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Female Disruptors: Cathleen Trigg-Jones of Catscape Productions On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

The biggest piece of advice is don’t give up — and you don’t receive it from everyone. The other would be that faith and fear cannot exist in the same sentence. That was a really big thing for me and it came from an unlikely source: one of my employees. They said it to me one day and it has stuck with me ever since. You cannot say “I’m faithful, I believe in myself” and also be scared to death to do what you want to do.

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Cathleen Trigg-Jones.

Cathleen Trigg-Jones is a former journalist who now serves as the Founder and CEO of Catscape Productions, which houses iWoman Studios + TV. For over 20 years, the uber-talented CEO has dedicated her time, energy, and expertise to create a full-service media and production company, Catscape Productions. Under her leadership, the Catscape team has created and produced content for CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX, BET, VH1, ESPN, CNN, TNT, MSG, CNBC, MTV, Showtime, and Discovery networks. She developed, shot, produced, and starred in the docu-series “We are the Joneses” which aired on BET Centric and Discovery Life She is also the executive producer and host of her own televised talk show, “Chic Chat,” which aired on FOX and can now be seen on iWoman TV. As a wife and proud mother of four, Cathleen believes it is crucial for women to be represented in all industries and chooses to amplify the female voice in entertainment through her content. iWomanTV is a means of distribution for talented female content creators who have been left out of conversations nor have had an opportunity to get through the doors to pitch shows.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I had dreamed of being on television since I was a little girl. At seven years old, I took part in a community play which was when I really got the acting bug and realized that being in front of an audience, on their televisions, is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I knew I had really big dreams but I came from a small town, Dover, Delaware. As a baby, I was an orphan and rotated between foster homes until I was eventually adopted right before my second birthday. So I grew up with not only a lot of self-doubt but was also surrounded by doubters. The fact that I had such big, audacious dreams, but lived in the smallest state in the universe, it at times seemed impossible to those around me, but I was very clear on what it was I wanted to do, and I did just that. I have come to a point in my life where I get to check off everything I have done: I’ve been an actress, I’ve been an entrepreneur, and now I’m the CEO and Founder of Catscape Productions, which houses iWomanTV.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Well, everything that I’m doing with iWoman TV is disruptive. My goal is to launch a network that will give women, globally, their voice back. As a woman of color and my background, being an entrepreneur is disruptive in itself, specifically in the tech and media field.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I started out in sports commentary, that was my first on-air television job. I love sports but I really didn’t know all the sports jargon. While it was slightly embarrassing, I can laugh about it now, but I butchered some sports terms like crazy! I worked for Comcast Sports and I would sometimes mix up the football terms with the basketball terms. It wasn’t that I didn’t know the sport, I just didn’t know what I didn’t know. I wasn’t really an expert. So what I learned from that is to get to know your stuff. This coincides with the phrase “Poor Planning and Preparation leads to Piss-Poor Performance.” Don’t ever put yourself in a position where you’re not doing your homework or don’t fully prepare for whatever opportunity you have because you’re going to really embarrass yourself. Oftentimes first impressions are lasting impressions. My friends that I grew up with still laugh at me to this day because I remember how much I used to mess up on the air when I was first starting out.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

I have had a lot of people that have supported me. A lot of the people who really have helped me along the way, quite frankly, are not people who could physically open a door or give me funding, but they’ve just given me support in telling me that I can. I’ve gotten validation from some of the oddest places such as people sending me a message saying that I’ve inspired them in some way and that gives me the fuel to keep doing what I do. Who I would say has really helped me most, though, is my children. Seeing that I have brought these little people into the world that I’m responsible for, and every now and then, when they’re not rebelling against me, I get validation from them that they’re proud of me or that they see me. That really inspires me to keep going. And it’s not just my children that I’ve given birth to, but the mentees that I’ve had along the way. The people that I’ve opened doors for, seeing how they’ve soared in their careers and doing amazing things now, knowing that I had a hand in that gives me inspiration on a daily basis to keep going.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

I believe being disruptive in an industry is a requirement for success, however, it’s not always the most positive way. When you’re a disruptor, a Trailblazer, you’re coming in and disrupting things and not everybody is receptive or open to someone doing things a different way. Nonetheless, I believe that the only way you can really leave a legacy or be a Trailblazer is to be a disruptor and not be afraid of those who don’t necessarily believe in your way of doing things. I think anytime you’re a disruptor, there’s always going to be two sides of the coin: there’s always going to be the positive and there’s always going to be the negative. But as a disruptor, you have to stay focused on what you believe in, block out those naysayers and really focus on the positive and your own conviction that you’re doing the right thing.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

The biggest piece of advice is don’t give up — and you don’t receive it from everyone. The other would be that faith and fear cannot exist in the same sentence. That was a really big thing for me and it came from an unlikely source: one of my employees. They said it to me one day and it has stuck with me ever since. You cannot say “I’m faithful, I believe in myself” and also be scared to death to do what you want to do. That phrase really molded me. The final piece of advice is to not get so caught up in working that you forget to stop and smell the flowers. That’s also made a huge difference in my life. I make sure that when things are really busy and I’m really stressed out from work that I stop just to recognize the blessing that “Wow, we’re here, we’ve done this and we’re doing this. We’re making a difference and this is amazing. Look at how beautiful the sky is, look at those flowers and the fact that we’re breathing and living every day, like this is amazing!” Then after, you get back to work!

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

There’s a lot to come! I won’t stop until we get to a place where we change the trajectory for women in film and television. I want to make sure that women are hugely represented behind the camera as much as we are on camera, because until we’re actually writing our own stories, producing our own stories, funding our own stories, we will continue to be portrayed through the eyes of decision-makers who don’t look like us. We’re not going to be portrayed as the strong, powerful women that we all are until we’re the ones that are actually writing and creating our stories.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

I don’t care how far we’ve come as women, there’s still a perception that we don’t really know what we’re doing or we’re not as capable as a male in this role, and so we’re constantly having to prove ourselves. If we can get out of the space of feeling like we have to prove ourselves and just do what we set out to do, I think we will find much greater success.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

The book Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist really made a difference for me. It states “leaving behind frantic for a simpler, more soulful way of living.” Niequist is a great writer in the way that she authors the book which I think speaks to most women that at some point you have to recognize the need to just be present instead of striving so hard to be perfect. I believe that oftentimes as women we feel overwhelmed and constantly feel like we can’t calm down because we feel the need to get going and going, so this book is a great reminder to just stop and be present for a minute. You don’t have to be perfect.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’ve already started it by launching iWoman. This platform elevates women’s voices and serves as a movement towards women empowerment. The reason I believe in the movement of women supporting women and telling our stories, is because I really believe women are the center of the universe. We are mother nature. We give birth. We are the ones who continue to keep mankind growing. I believe that there is so much that can be gained by women supporting one another and lifting one another up so that we’re in positions of power. I believe when we get to the top, we are able to see and think very clearly about what is needed to get the job done, uninhibited of all things that stand in the way of that vision. Women are amazing multitaskers and possess both sides, masculine and feminine, that makes us the most brilliant leaders. The movement has already started: it’s getting women to speak up, tell their stories, support one another, encourage one another, and then take care of the rest of the universe together.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I was raised with a very spiritual base and consider myself a Christian. Coming from what I’ve come from, I’ve always believed there was something greater than me that was responsible for my life, my success, or even the fact that I’m still here today. My life lesson quote is proverb 16:3, “Commit your works to the Lord and your plans will succeed.” All the decisions I have made in my life, I always ask myself “Is this grounded in faith? Or is it grounded in fear?” If it’s grounded in faith, it will be successful. I am very committed to what I believe spiritually, and that is to take care of your brothers and sisters. You’re supposed to treat people the way you want to be treated and you’re supposed to do good. Your blessings will come by blessing others. All of this to me is grounded in faith.

How can our readers follow you online?

Facebook: @CathleenTrigg

Twitter: @CathleenTrigg

Instagram: @cattrigg | @iwomantv

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Thank you!

Female Disruptors: Cathleen Trigg-Jones of Catscape Productions On The Three Things You Need To… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.