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What an executive producer does in a workday

Welcome to The Work Day, a series that charts a single day in various women’s working lives

(Tracey Baker-Simmons/Washington Post illustration)
7 min

Welcome to The Work Day, a series that charts a single day in various women’s working lives — from gallery owners to stay-at-home parents to chief executives. In this installment, we hear from Tracey Baker-Simmons, an executive producer for TV and film. She recorded a workday in May.

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Name: Tracey Baker-Simmons

Age: 54

Location: West New York, N.J.

Job title: Executive producer

Previous jobs: I have been working in the entertainment industry for more than 25 years. I started in marketing and promotions for a major label in the early 1990s for a couple of years, then transitioned into music videos and commercials. I produced hundreds of music videos and commercials for artists including Brandy, Monica and Nas, and commercials for brands such as Sprite, McDonald’s and many more. Then, in early 2003, I started my company B2 Entertainment, which is where I conceptualized “Being Bobby Brown.” In 2011, I relocated to the New York area and took a job as head of development for Jarrett Creative. There, I helped develop shows such as “Boston’s Finest,” “Alaskan Women Looking for Love” and “Rock the Boat.”

What led me to my current role: In 2015, I decided to once again venture out on my own to launch my boutique production entity, Baker Simmons Media. I am a risk-taker, and taking the big leap to create a project like “Being Bobby Brown” — with stars like Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston, whom I didn’t know before approaching them about a show at the onset of reality television — really led me to understand that nothing is impossible. Last year, I executive-produced a Christmas movie for the Hallmark Channel, “Sugar Plum Twist.”

How I spend the majority of my day: I spend most of my days developing new show concepts or working with my agent to set up pitches. I’m always up early proofing anything I wrote the night before, as well as checking emails and social media. A few days a week, I muscle enough energy to meet with my trainer at the gym, and most mornings, I try to have a smoothie or coffee with my husband as we discuss what we have going on and when he thinks he’ll be home. (My husband runs food and beverage for one of the private clubs in Manhattan and has a photography business on the side.)

People send me new show ideas a lot, and I try to respond to them all. Although I’m an early riser, I also go to bed fairly late, because I am most creative in the evening. My assistant is virtual, and we mainly interact via email and text, with a weekly Zoom on Mondays. The middle of the day is filled with meetings.

I do my best writing after 8 p.m., and I try to take in some good TV. (I really feel it’s important for me to watch television to see what’s out there.) Between 11 p.m. and midnight, I wind it down with a little YouTube and some water or tea.

My workday

5 a.m.: My first alarm goes off and I roll over.

6 a.m.: I finally wake up. My iPad and glasses are next to me, so I’m able to check emails and send a payment to a graphic designer for a presentation they’re creating for the new series I’m pitching next week.

6:15 a.m.: Today I have a shoot in the city with a celebrity client for a project with A&E Networks, not to be named yet, because it doesn’t air until next year. (I am working as the co-executive producer on it.) We shoot a couple of days a week, and today happens to be one of our shoot days. I check the call sheet to confirm my call time.

6:20 a.m.: I complete my bed stretches, then roll out of bed to see the sunrise and say my prayers and manifestations for the day.

6:50 a.m.: I jump in the shower and get dressed. I like wearing makeup, even if it’s covered with a mask. I make sure I have my tools: My iPad mini and headphones are must-haves on set.

8 a.m.: My car arrives. The goal is to arrive on set around 9 a.m. to be ready when the client arrives. The location is downtown, near Wall Street.

9 a.m.: I arrive at the location, a recording studio in the city. I am excited, because this building has one of my favorite coffee shops, Gregorys.

I head up to the 22nd floor and meet with the team. We do the walk-through. On this particular shoot, my role is to explain the overall creative big picture. Luckily for me, the studio we are shooting in is not on the main level, so we have to climb two flight of stairs. (So much for skipping the gym.)

9:45 a.m.: The walk-through is complete and talent isn’t due to arrive until 11 a.m., so I take this as a sign that I can go take a real coffee break. I head down to Gregorys and have a cappuccino in a mug and a warm croissant.

10:45 a.m.: I head back upstairs, so I’m ready for talent.

11 a.m.: We get a call from management: Talent is going to be one hour late. (Glad I had that coffee break.) The team and I decide to walk through the day once more, so we can move things along quickly as soon as talent arrives.

12:30 p.m.: Talent finally arrives and is very apologetic.

1:30 p.m.: Filming begins, and all is well, except we are supposed to break for lunch at 3 p.m. Today’s celebrity has a hard out, so we will need to roll through lunch.

4:45 p.m.: We finally wrap on the celebrity talent and break the crew for lunch.

5 p.m.: It’s a walkaway lunch, so the other executive producer and I head to a nearby salad bar. I have a kale Caesar, something I only eat at restaurants.

6 p.m.: We are all back from lunch and review the lists of pickup shots the team needs to grab before we wrap (exterior shots of the building, etc.). I stick around for a bit to offer any needed creative support.

6:30 p.m.: The filming part is complete, and I can head home. However, I realize today is Cinco de Mayo, so I swing by Soho House to have a margarita with a friend. (I like mine spicy.) I skip the guacamole for fried calamari.

Unfortunately, I can’t stay long, because I need to complete an early script for a Christmas movie my partner and I recently pitched to a network.

8 p.m.: I head home to Jersey. The weather is nice, and I decide to enjoy my new favorite rosé and get to writing.

9:30 p.m.: I send the email to my producing partner for review and decide I’ll make any changes in the morning. I jump in the shower, so I can spend some quality time with my husband when he’s home.

10 p.m.: My husband is finally home, and we tell each other how our days went. He grabs a rum, and I take sips. (It’s too late for me to have another cocktail.) We watch TV, and I do my usual after a long shoot day and fall asleep in his lap. Then he gently nudges me to head to bed.

11:15 p.m.: No YouTube tonight. I have given this day all I have and need to get some rest.