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Meet LaCora Stephens

Today we’d like to introduce you to LaCora Stephens.

Hi LaCora, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I’m a filmmaker that traded in my “close-up” for a director’s chair. I always dreamt of being “better” than Angela Bassett as I performed at Florida A & M University’s Essential Theatre. However, when I made it to Los Angeles and booked a couple of gigs, I realized that I didn’t like the process of auditioning. Nor did I enjoy the “hurry up and wait” grueling scheduling, the unnecessary repetition of takes and how I traded in my live theatre audience energy for a chain-smoking grip on-set secretly recording me during quick wardrobe changes. True story. My dream of becoming better than Angela Bassett faded faster than the weekend. That’s when I realized that my creativity behind the lens can be more interesting, maintained and exciting. With creative experience as an actor, red carpet host and drama teacher, I created, co-produced and co-wrote my first short, “Dating & Waiting” in 2015. This romantic comedy was the start of my filmmaking career that led me to produce my first award-winning feature film, “Brown Paper Bag” directed by Detdrich McClure.

Prior to filmmaking, I executive produced a talk show, “The YES! Show” from the ground up, gaining an award nomination, a small, yet solid distribution deal along with networking and opportunities that I actually used to imagine about. My show landed me a position at Lee Bailey’s EURweb as an entertainment correspondent which led to my editing, writing and packaging skills. I’ve used these skills to serve clients such as pastors, politicians, entrepreneurs and everyday people under my new production company, “Building Tables Productions”.

Building Tables Productions is a Los Angeles-based production company that creates, develops and produces independent content in all forms: film, tv, commercial, unscripted short-form, and digital. We also provide post-production editing services. Building Tables seeks to produce budget-friendly yet professional media. We’re known for our dramatic short film, “7 SHARP”. We are most proud of this project because it’s my first “written and directed by” project that deals with a universal theme: family secrets. The goal is to create a space for dialogue to ultimately enhance the quality of life for our viewers. And that’s what sets us apart from other production companies. We’re not creating or producing content to solely entertain but to also provoke thought.

The city of Pasadena recognized the power of the short narrative “7 SHARP” and the conversation it can bring to a community, so they awarded me with a grant to showcase my short film, complete the feature script and present a staged reading of the screenplay. I’m truly blown away by the positive feedback I’ve received from my first “written and directed by” project, “7 SHARP”.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Any creative will tell you that it is not a smooth road in entertainment…unless nepotism is in the equation, lol. Different challenges exist: you’re too black, too female, too green, too old, too nice, too whatever. Hollywood isn’t for the faint of heart. But you know what? Rejection creates ingenuity. Ownership is born. Long story short, embrace challenges; they can sometimes make you stronger.

For example, during one of my first producing projects, I was not respected. My skills were not appreciated and I was out-voted on many artistic suggestions. I was often told, “director is king”, making my opinions invalid. This taught me the importance of work-for-hire vs. partnership. I also learned that many industry standards are set and most don’t derail from the status quo, so yes— director is king. Therefore, if you don’t want to compromise your creative vision, direct your own film because no one seems to care if you’re the creator with a brilliant idea (i.e., Fifty Shades clash). But if you direct a brilliant idea, you rule the kingdom.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
As an indie producer and filmmaker, I create and develop content that makes me proud. That sounds a little selfish, but I want to create things that matter to me. I’m known for my work on the red carpet and host of The YES! Show, a talk show created as a stepping stone for Christian artists seeking a larger notoriety. With this platform, I’ve managed to interview guests of all caliber from Tyler Perry, CeCe Winans, Yvonne Orji, and Kel Mitchell.

Due to the pandemic, live studio tapings have been on hiatus until it’s safe for consistent recordings. To keep the momentum going, I’ve created virtual opportunities via Zoom, along with never seen before footage to my The YES! Show Youtube channel.

I’m currently working on edits, website, MP3 and social media packages for my clients under my new LLC: Building Tables Productions. We even offer spectacular formatted virtual presentations that pop for organizations…no more boring zooms. Past clients include NAACP Beverly Hills Hollywood Chapter and The National Association of Black Military Women. We’re seeking new clients, so visit my website today if you need our services.

Can you tell us more about what you were like growing up?
Production and entertainment is something I always enjoyed as a kid. Growing up, I loved poetry, drawing, writing, theatre and home videos. I actually won an art scholarship in the third grade and was never the one to shy away from the camera! My first role in a play was as a rock or sun. I don’t recall much, except for the fact I had no lines and wanted more. Well honey, more was given during my church’s Easter play. All the children were given monologues aka the infamous Easter Speech that most kids dread, but I was excited about it. I was the best Pilot’s wife you’ve ever seen! The congregation applauded so loud and I loved it. I may remember a standing ovation, but my recollection is a bit fuzzy on that part, lol. I must say that the arts have always called my name and I’ve always answered.

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