In 2014, Mandi Price was hungry for a fruitful career. Hungry for opportunities. Hollywood hunger.
After eight years of hard work, she became a producer of some of America’s most beloved shows.
“Now every day I look at the Hollywood sign and say, ‘Fuck, I work here? Is this real?’ said Price.
Price returns to her Spokane roots on February 16 to discuss her journey from a graduate of Shadle Park High School and Gonzaga University to a producer in Hollywood at the Black Stories Symposium, where five students from Black Spokane Public Schools will present art at the Montvale Event Center in an event that examines, expands and celebrates the black experience. The event is part of the Northwest Passages Book Club.
“We talk so much in Hollywood about being in the room and thank you for my place at the table, but I don’t want a seat.” The price said. “I want to influence.”
Price’s journey began with a youthful and distinctive connection to television. According to her parents’ recollections, she never watched television. She studied it.
“I would point out things like, ‘A hand wasn’t there before the scene and all of a sudden the hand was there,'” Price said. “You just pick out the little details that the average person only watches for entertainment. I’ve always looked at it a little differently.
Love for television didn’t turn into an instant career path for Price. She wanted to be a nurse.
“But then I realized the math was involved, and I stink of the math, so I said ‘It has to be done,'” Price said.
Price pursued a degree in political science at the University of Southern Virginia with the eventual goal of becoming a lawyer. After considering her homesickness, she decided to return home to Gonzaga. She pursued her love for storytelling, with a double major in broadcast journalism and political science. Next, Price had to find a way to survive the common financial difficulties of higher education.
“I was lucky enough to get a job at KHQ my freshman year of college as the morning show editor,” Price said.
Price remained in that position for nearly two years, but the weight of student loans began to weigh on her and forced her to work for Delta Airlines for higher pay.
Although she wove a financial safety net, she yearned for creativity and television. So she redirected her free flight perks to fly to Los Angeles in her spare time.
She pretended to be a resident of Los Angeles, meeting with various producers to discuss her experiences and her passion for storytelling. She had spent over a year going back and forth, watching TV shows and preparing for when a producer would buy her drive and potential.
“Until one day I got a call saying ‘Hey, I have this show called Rizzoli & Isles, would you be interested?’ Price recalled. “It was one of my favorite shows at the time. I was like ‘Yes, absolutely. I would love to do that. ”
Price became a post-production supervisor, a natural complement to her hands-on experience at KHQ.
The 24-hour news format now spans approximately 22 days, giving Price and other editors more time to explore the specific and intricate details of the shows. Between news and television, Price described it as learning American English and British English, a process that is two sides of the same coin.
“The formula is the same, the process is the same, it’s just a little bit different depending on what gender you’re going through,” she said.
For some shows, however, the editorial experience isn’t what shines the brightest. Price, an adoptee from a multiracial family, sees her childhood in Spokane as an invaluable puzzle piece to her identity and her career.
This came in handy during the production of “Little Fires Everywhere,” the Hulu limited series, starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington, who played family matriarchs navigating tricky topics like race, motherhood, and marriage. societal belonging.
Released on March 18, 2020, the Hulu miniseries was a hit, capturing viewers as they escaped the boredom of COVID-19 lockdowns. Originally a novel by Celeste Ng, ‘Little Fires Everywhere’ resonated with many, and it struck close to Price as she drew on her experience as a black woman navigating the world and adopted with two white parents. She has two younger brothers, also adopted, who helped clarify her understanding of being a black man in America.
“We talked about what it means to be a mother, what it means to be black in America, what it means to be marginalized,” Price said. “Even what does it mean to be a woman in a marginalized community when it comes to adoption. A lot of that just framed my life.
While attending Lakeside High School and Shadle Park High School, Price felt out of place, a common thread throughout “Little Fires Everywhere”. Communicating with the writer’s room and executive producer Liz Tigelaar, the show benefited from Price’s genuine perspective, with Price calling herself a “bridge of experience”.
“I had a lot of discussions with Liz Tigelaar and we all discussed my experience as an adoptee into a white family,” Price said. “There are lines of dialogue from this show that really resonated with me and I made sure to speak to my editors and say, ‘It’s important, don’t cut this line because it’s key to the way I grew up. Or I would say to them, ‘A lot of people will be okay with that.’ ”
Prior to her work on the show, Price saw the importance of black storytellers as the producer of “Boomerang,” a BET series produced and created by Lena Waithe. By working with an all-black cast, while modernizing the black cult classic “Boomerang” into a show, Price gained a deeper understanding of Hollywood’s importance in producing black stories. Price also worked under Dime Davis, a popular black director who helped bring recent hits like HBO’s “A Black Lady Sketch Show” to the screen.
“For the first time, I walked into a room where everyone looked like me. I had the opportunity to ask all the questions that I could never have asked,” Price said. really took him under his wing and it was so much fun. I was just like, ‘Oh my God, I want to do this again.’ ”
Back home in Spokane for the Black Art Symposium, Price feels the moment to come full circle from nurturing the roots to diversify and empower black students to tell their own stories.
Price remembers seeing a black nurse for the first time on the NBC show ER, which sparked her initial interest in nursing.
“Even now there’s this clip on social media from the movie ‘Encanto’, where a girl who looks exactly like the main character, thinks that’s her on screen. It’s amazing to see that,” said “Little kids identify with each other, and it’s so important that we see representation on screen of all colors and creeds. People’s stories need to be told, and what better way to share those experiences than from our own personal wealth of knowledge. »