Constance Orlando

This month, we had the pleasure of interviewing Constance Orlando, award winning television producer, Vice President of Original Programming at Black Entertainment Television (BET) and the force behind shows including The Game, Sunday Best, The Mo’Nique Show, and Black Girls Rock!. Though her career began in banking, Constance quickly realized that her passion was in creating entertainment content, so she started her own production company, and eventually landed at BET. She is clearly the best at what she does, since over the course of her 17-year career, Constance has received five NAACP Image Awards, and two NAMIC Vision Awards.

Constance took some time out of her schedule to tell us about her career, what it means to be empowered and what great women she looks up to; as well as dished on her fitness routine and what’s in her Ultimate Beauty Arsenal.

What does a typical day in the life look like for the VP, Original Programming at BET Networks?
My days can vary: I travel more than 50% of the year but I try and stick to my routine so whether on set, or in my New York or Los Angeles office, my alarm goes off at 7am everyday. I like to ease into the day, wake and take an hour to meditate, thank God for his blessings, read the paper, and fix a protein shake. If I'm at home I head to the gym around 8:30am to knock out an hour--30 minutes of cardio, and 30 minutes of weights.

I usually get to the office around 10:30am and begin my day, which consists of meetings with producers and agents about current projects or pitches, and checking in with some of our cast. I try to block out an hour or two just to view rough cuts of my shows, give notes to post, and surf sites like Deadline Hollywood and Shadow and Act to see what's happening in the world of entertainment. I also throw a few of the gossip blogs in there - my guilty pleasure. I try my best to return emails, but time always gets in the way.

Now that Black Girls Rock! is in pre-production I do tons of research to find those amazing women of color that are candidates for the show, and scan magazines and the net for new, exciting visual looks for the show. I place my daily check in call to my mom, as living 3000 miles away can make me miss my family, so it's great to hear her voice. My day ends at the office around 7 or 8pm. I usually try and grab dinner or drinks with friends before heading home.

What is your favorite part of what you do?
I love being on set; I think that comes from my music video days. It is amazing to see a script or a project come to life. I love the process of making art; creating and producing a project from beginning to end has always been intoxicating to me. I love what I do. It's such a blessing to do what you are passionate about!

What is some of the earliest advice you remember receiving about what it meant to be empowered?
I remember my mom telling me that with hard work and focus I could be anything I dreamed of being. It showed me that my destiny was up to me, in my hands, all I had to do was my part; and it taught me to take charge of my career and do the work. I remember Venus Williams in her Black Girls Rock acceptance speech said that everyday she asks herself if she “paid the price"; the price is putting in the work to make your dreams come true--you have to do it everyday!

With all you've accomplished, so many young women can look up to you as an example of success. Who were some of the women you looked up to when you were growing up?
There are so many. I remember watching television and seeing Yvette Lee Bowser and Winifred Harvey's Executive Producer credits in some of my favorite shows and wanting to one day create a TV show, but having no idea how to do it. I was also obsessed with Dr. Maya Angelou. She embodied grace and was fearless. Today I still look up to women like Tracy Edmonds and Mara Brock Akil. These women have changed the way Hollywood views black women.

I've learned the key to success is to set small goals for yourself along the journey and realize that success happens at these markers along the way--not just where you end up. Sometimes we are so focused on where we want to get to that we forget to celebrate and enjoy the journey.

The standards for how women dress in the office and the boardroom is, in many industries, evolving and allowing for more self-expression. What does "power dressing" mean to you?
It's all about attitude: when you look good, you feel good. How we dress is a direct reflection of our personalities, and the one area where we can be unique. I work in entertainment so I have always been fortunate to be able to wear anything I want, from my favorite cashmere sweats to high-end designer labels. My "go to" that works for almost any situation is a cropped pant or pair of jeans, Jimmy Choo pointy toe pumps, a trench coat, and sunglasses. I'm a shoe and bag girl--they can make any outfit a power outfit.

How do you balance the demands of your career with those of your personal life?
I won't lie sometimes it can be very difficult. I think the key is to be as deliberate about what you want in your personal life as you are about your career. You have to be proactive in getting the personal life you want. I reward myself with a few days off after every major project or show and always make sure I am doing something just for me, whether working out, a massage, or just a movie day--as long as it something that makes me happy.

Do you have a regular diet and fitness routine?
I like to think of it as a "lifestyle". I eat lots of protein and vegetables for 6 days a week, cutting out carbs and sugar. The 7th day is my cheat day where I can eat ANYTHING I want. I have a killer sweet tooth so I find that knowing there is a day off keeps me motivated to eat right during the week. It's not unusual for me to be on set or on location for months, and the 14-16 hour days don't leave me a lot of gym time, but as soon as we wrap shooting I am back to working out 3 days a week with a trainer, and a yoga or pilates class once a week. I do want to introduce Soul Cycle into my program starting Jan 2015. I heard the music is amazing!

What is your winter regimen for keeping your hair healthy and strong?
Now that I live in Los Angeles I don't have to do a "winter" regimen (yay!) but I will always swear by having a deep conditioner twice a month. Olive oil is great for the hair, and I always sleep on a silk pillowcase or scarf (I pack them when I travel too).

Do you have a weekend, or Sunday night beauty ritual? If so, what is it?
I love the weekends, and Saturday is my deep cleansing day. I do a peel or scrub, followed by TNS recovery serum, then on Sunday I do an egg white mask and moisturize with pure Argan oil. If it's a low-key weekend I try to take a break from makeup and just let my skin breathe.

What three products are in your Ultimate Beauty Arsenal--those items you just can't live without?
I travel a lot which can be very hard on my skin so I am anal about keeping my face exfoliated and hydrated. I don't leave home without these 3 things: Mirskin 5% glycolic cleanser, Clarisonic brush, and La Mer face cream.

Connect with Constance by following her on Twitter @ConnieOrlando. And be sure to check out some of the other talented and successful women we’ve featured in our previous COCOBelle of the Month interviews.