Aspiring film and television professionals tend to believe that their success in the industry will be quick and easy. This false belief often comes from only seeing successful celebrities when they have reached an apex in their careers. Success in film and television is anything but quick and easy. Sharon Martin, executive producer for one of the most popular shows on Oxygen – Snapped – knows all too well that success in television is not an overnight fantasy. Before becoming the narrator for one of the most top-rated crime shows on cable, she experienced the highs and the lows of what it takes to succeed in this industry.
This week, she shares with Reel Focus readers her journey to being an ‘overnight’ success and even shares a few tips on how you too can succeed in this vacillating world.
Sharon, I want to sincerely thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to share your story with Reel Focus readers. It is an honor to have you on our blog. For those who are not familiar with who you are because we rarely see you, tell us what you do in the world of television.
Right now, I do two jobs: I’m the narrator for Oxygen’s Snapped series and I’m also the show’s co-executive producer. So viewers hear my voice, but the bulk of my workday is getting the episodes put together in post-production and getting them delivered to the network on schedule. I also spend part of my time doing viewer outreach for the series on social media.
Before becoming the Queen of Crime TV, tell us about your past experiences in television.
I’ve been with Snapped for more than a decade, but I’ve had quite a few other jobs in television. I started as a local news reporter. I spent several years at CNN as a news writer. Eventually, I moved into program production and even did a few years as a promo producer at lifestyle network. I’ve made it through layoffs and network rebrands and the skill that keeps me going is storytelling. Whether I’m working on a live news hour, promos or a true-crime series, the common thread is the ability to put a story together that engages. The product may change but those producing skills transfer.
Would you say that you have found your niche in the world of television or is this just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what you plan to do in the future.
The answer is both, hopefully. I’ve found my niche for now. Snapped is a perfect fit for my skills and voice. But there’s one constant when working in television, and that’s change. When I started as a local news reporter, I never would have imagined I would be the narrator and producer of a long-running true-crime cable series. When Snapped started, we never expected it to run into 20+ seasons. So, I do hope this is the tip of the iceberg, and I’m excited to see where the next 10 years takes me.
Finally, share your advice with our readers on 1) how to break into the industry and 2) how to remain successful.
Everyone is making content everywhere right now, whether it’s for broadcast, cable or streaming media. If you are just getting started, find a local production company and take an entry-level position. Work your way through a few projects and learn a few things about every aspect of production. Then work hard, be flexible and build trust with the people around you. If they trust you on one project, they’ll remember you for the next one. Build your skills with each new opportunity and pay attention to the ever-changing media landscape.
When I started narrating, there was no Twitter, but now interacting with fans is part of my job. And honestly, a big part of it is simply timing and luck. I never intended to be a narrator, but I was working as a producer on Snapped. Because I had radio and local news experience, I did the scratch voiceover, the temporary audio and one day they needed a new narrator. It’s an exciting time to be in the business because there are so many paths to success and there are new opportunities every day.