History interests TV producer Barbara E. Allen

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WHO SHE IS. Film and TV veteran, show producer/documentarian Barbara E. Allen of Middle Passage productions. She’s an eight-time Emmy nominee and two-time winner, a.k.a. “BA.”

CREDITS. The recent PBS doc, “Paper Trail: 100 Years of the Chicago Defender,” children’s program “TechKnow Kids;” the cultural travel series “D-Tours;” the home decorating show “Urban Suite.”

HOW SHE VIEWS HER JOB. “I have a deep and abiding interest in the history and current issues facing Black peoples all over the world. I also have a need to share what I know and what I continue to learn.”

PROS: The limitless possibilities for story material. “Film allows you to travel backward or forward. It gives a 360-degree viewpoint of subjects and individuals. It transcends time and transforms perspectives. You are only limited by your own creativity.”

CONS: Time and financial limitations. “Like any art, your vision will be challenged and often, unappreciated. It is a lonely journey from concept to reality.”

BACKSTORY: A Columbia College graduate, Allen began her career as a film editor at WNBC-TV New York. She later moved to NBC affiliate Ch. 5, then to Ch. 11. She founded Middle Passage Productions, a multi-cultural, non-profit media cooperative, in 1991.

ABOUT MIDDLE PASSAGE: “The name comes from the treacherous journey taken by slave ships from Africa to the Americas. I associate the Middle Passage with survival, strength, courage, beating the odds and the triumph of the human spirit.

“To be successful, my company will be confronted with all of these aspects and more. The name is a constant reminder that no matter what, we are descendents of a powerful and unstoppable people.”

BIG BREAK: Allen never looked for just one big break. “That’s kind of a Hollywood creation that doesn’t give credit and respect to all the people who toil daily at their craft to create a significant body of work.”

She credits her “true break” to her mother Rose. “She is the one who encouraged me to go my own way without fear of reprisal or ridicule.”

WHAT’S NEXT: HIV-themed “Positively,” her first feature in development, is a classic love story with contemporary complications. “From the very first scene we savor the film’s multicultural flavor?meringue, art galleries, Wicker Park, Bronzeville and all the hidden treasures that make Chicago unique.”

SECRET TO SUCCESS: Giving her absolute best at all times. Developing a tough skin and fighting for what she believes in. Never taking herself too seriously and always respecting the work.

WORDS OF WISDOM: “We are at the cusp of one of the most important times in the history of media?so many new distribution channels and so many outlets and so many ways to distinguish oneself.” With that, Allen notes, “We also have to be more conscious of what we put out there. It’s a great responsibility.”

Barbara Allen can be reached at ba@middlepassageproductions.com.

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