The Reel Effect’s monthly editorial column features stories from film, television, and media professionals. Giving creators of color the opportunity to share some of their biggest wins, drops gems, and be as honest as possible about working and navigating their career within the media industry.
Our first featured creator has a lengthy career within the music industry and currently building in the film industry as a writer and producer. Learn more about Samuel C. Morrison, Jr. below!
What is your job title / occupation / field of work?
I am a one of the co-founders of Deck of Cards Entertainment, a boutique film/tv production company based in The Greater Philadelphia area. I work as a writer, producer, director but am shifting more towards writing and producing.
How long have you been working in this position or field?
8 years. But in the entertainment industry as a whole, I have 15 years of experience.
How would you describe your journey in the media industry so far?
My journey in the entertainment and media industry has been a dynamic and diverse path, marked by both challenges and achievements. I began my career in marketing and promotions at Def Jam, then transitioned to journalism as a writer for The Source magazine. I worked my way up through the ranks, gaining valuable experience and building my skills along the way. In addition to interviewing celebrities and covering industry events, I also had the opportunity to serve as a writer and producer for a news show on AOL/Huff Post.
Recently, I have been focused on filmmaking, including the launch of my production company, Deck of Cards. Looking back on my journey thus far, I am grateful for the numerous experiences and opportunities that have shaped me as a creative. I am passionate about using my voice to tell important and culturally diverse stories that resonate with our audience, and I am eager to see what the future holds for me and the rest of the company.
What has been your biggest lesson of your career thus far?
One of the most significant lessons I have learned on my journey is the importance of patience and intentionality. I have come to understand that busyness does not equate to productivity. Now, I make sure to approach each project with careful consideration, rather than rushing into it simply because I am eager to get started. This approach has not only helped me to produce higher quality work, but has also allowed me to better prioritize my time and energy.
How has your perspective changed from the beginning of your career until now?
At the beginning of my career, I was focused on climbing “the ladder” and proving myself. I was driven by a desire to succeed and make a name. As I have gained experience and developed skills, my perspective has changed. Now, I am more focused on the impact of my work and the value I, and it, brings to others. I am less concerned with personal accolades and more concerned with building a viable company and those working with me. I have also come to understand the importance of collaboration and teamwork, and have learned to value the insights and contributions of my partners. Overall, my perspective has evolved from being inwardly focused to being more outwardly focused, and I am grateful for the growth and learning that has come with it.
What do you wish you knew at the beginning of your career?
Looking back, there are a few things I wish I had known that would have saved me time, energy, and headaches. One thing I wish I had known is the importance of networking and building relationships in the industry. I spent a lot of time trying to go it alone, when I could have been building a tribe; a strong network of colleagues and mentors who could have provided guidance and support. Another thing I wish I had known is the value of being flexible and open to new opportunities. I was very focused on following a specific career path and was resistant to making any detours. In hindsight, I realize that some of the best experiences and opportunities I have had came about because I was open to trying new things and stepping outside of my comfort zone. Overall, I wish I had known to be more proactive in seeking out opportunities and building relationships, and to be more open to trying new things and taking risks.
What is one piece of advice you have for recent graduates, current students, or newcomers to the industry?
If I could offer one piece of advice, as cliche as it sounds, it would be to never stop learning and growing. The world is constantly changing, and it is important to stay up to date with the latest developments in your field. This can be achieved through continued education, seeking out new opportunities for learning, and staying open to new ideas. In addition, I would recommend finding your tribe by building a strong network of colleagues and mentors. These relationships can provide valuable support, guidance, and opportunities as you navigate your career. Finally, I would encourage you to be resilient and persistent, as there will inevitably be challenges and setbacks along the way. With hard work, determination, and a commitment to learning and growth, you can achieve great things.
What advice has helped you the most on your journey?
One piece of advice that has been particularly valuable to me, from my wife, is to stay true to my values and beliefs. In a fast-paced and competitive industry, it is easy to get caught up in the pursuit of success and lose sight of what is truly important. By staying true to my values, I have been able to make decisions that align with my goals and priorities, and have been able to build a career that is fulfilling and meaningful to me.
How has the scope of media changed from the beginning of your career to now and how have you adjusted/pivoted?
The media landscape has undergone significant changes since the beginning of my career. When I first started out, traditional forms of media, such as print and television, were the dominant platforms. However, with the rise of the internet and social media, the scope of media has expanded dramatically.
In response to these changes, I have had to pivot in a number of ways. One of the most significant adjustments has been the need to become proficient in digital media platforms and technologies, requiring me to continually stay up to date.
In addition, I have had to adapt to the increasing demand for timely and relevant content. So it’s important to be able to produce and distribute high-quality content quickly and efficiently.
Overall, while the changes in the media landscape have presented challenges, they have also opened up new opportunities and have allowed me to expand my skills and expertise. By staying adaptable and open to learning, I believe my team and I can thrive in this constantly evolving industry.
What has been the worst piece of career advice you have received throughout your career?
I won’t say who, but I was told “stay in your comfort zone” – While I know it wasn’t said with malice, and it may be tempting to stick with what you know and avoid risk. For me taking on new challenges and stepping outside of your comfort zone is essential for my personal and professional growth.
Is there an incident that you would like to share to warn or educate someone else in this industry?
Conduct your own research. While you may receive advice from someone you trust, it’s always a good idea to verify the information you are receiving through your own investigation. This will help you to make more informed decisions and ensure that you are basing your actions on accurate and reliable information.
What is one thing you would like to thank the media industry for?
I am grateful to the media industry for the connections I have made throughout my career. These relationships have been invaluable in terms of support, guidance, and opportunities for growth, and I am thankful to have been able to build such a strong team that I can lean on.
What is one thing you wish the media industry was better at doing?
While I know there is a platform for underrepresented voices; I would like to see more at the higher level. Through media, a voice with unique perspectives can be given to those who might not otherwise be heard. These voices just need to be more amplified.
I just want to thank Meah Denee & The Reel Effect for the opportunity to share my story, and feel free to check out my psych thriller By Deception, now streaming on Peacock and Tubi.
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