British-American producer Karina Michel has worked in the film industry for more than 23 years, producing TV shows and movies. She also started her own podcast this year, where she inspires others to build their own dream career.
Karina began her career as a model in New York when she was 17, before moving to Los Angeles and starting to act and produce. Her first producing job was on TV series ‘The Balancing Act’, Lifetime Network’s morning show, which focused on women’s issues. She’s since produced many film and TV projects, is an entertainment journalist for ‘Authority’ magazine and a member of the Producers Guild of America. During the pandemic she created the podcast ‘Coffee with Karina’, where she chats with inspiring guests and shares advice about working in the entertainment industry.
Q: How did you start producing and working in the film industry?
A: I started working in New York City as a model at 17, and then went to LA at 22. For 12 years in LA, I worked in all areas of the industry – print, commercials, TV shows and film.
“I watched behind the scenes and learned so much about how the industry works and what it takes to be successful. Although, I feel like I’m always learning, as things are always evolving and changing.”
My first producing credit was on this little feature in LA – I was there as an actress and asked if I could also come on as an associate producer. It shows that it never hurts to put yourself out there and just ask.
Q: Who or what inspired you to be a producer?
A: I’m really inspired by filmmaker Sofia Coppola. I think she’s really incredible. I don’t remember seeing a lot of female producers or filmmakers when I started. Now this is starting to change, as we see the industry become more inclusive.
Q: What are your favourite projects to date?
A: I was so lucky to be on the film ‘Little Miss Sumo’ as an executive producer – it’s an incredible story about a Japanese female sumo wrestler called Hiyori [it on Best UK Film at Manchester Film Festival 2019 and is now available on Netflix]. I’m also really proud of two short films highlighting mental health right now: ‘I Am’ with Oriane Pick, and ‘Self-Charm’ with Ella Greenwood – they’re picking up a lot of buzz. Mental health has become such a talking point during 2020 and I’m really proud to be at the forefront of that, especially out of the UK, where I’m originally from.
“I also started a podcast, ‘Coffee with Karina’, where I speak to celebrities and thought leaders about their journeys and what inspires them. Mental health has come up consistently, as I feel everyone has dealt with it on some level this year.”
It’s refreshing to hear that everyone has doubts and makes mistakes; it’s part of the growth cycle.
Q: Tell us about your next project.
A: My production company Tallulah Films has a film called ‘To The Moon’ coming out next year – it’s a psychological thriller with an A-List cast. We also have a feature documentary currently in production.
Q: What advice would you give to younger women who want to be successful producers and filmmakers?
A: It’s important to be who you are and If something interests you, go for it. Get involved on projects where you can come together and learn from the best. Take risks and don’t be afraid of rejection, it’s just a business. Working in the fashion or film industry can be incredibly rewarding and a lot of fun. There are so many jobs on a set, so start off as a PA to get some experience or assist someone who needs some help. Collaborating with great people is so important.