"We are busy over here!" said Marquitta as we laughed and talked about the many projects she is currently working on.
One thing to know about her is that she is not someone who sits back and waits for an opportunity. She goes and gets it. Moving from her hometown in Chicago to Los Angeles and Atlanta in the beginning of her career contributed to the successful woman she is today. I caught up with her as she was getting her locs done in Atlanta to prepare for a pop-up shop with her cannabis brand The High Hour.
Who is Marquitta Baines?
I'm from Chicago and grew up with 15 siblings. Since I was a kid, I have always been eager to pursue my dreams. When the time came, I moved to Atlanta and I began acting. I believe acting found me. I say that because I was working on an independent film and an actor dropped out at the last minute. They needed to find someone to fill the role and without hesitating I said, "I can do it." From there I continued acting, started writing my own web series, and started producing. Today I am a director and a content creator.
How was it moving away from your family and what's your relationship like with your siblings?
Family is so important to me. They are so supportive and have my back with everything I do. This is one of the most hardworking industries to be in and having a strong foundation and support system really helps me navigate the stressful times. I always joke that I have a love-hate relationship with what I do, but I don't see myself doing anything else. My mom always told me 'go out and fly high, and no matter where you go, you can always come back home.'
What did it take for you to become a producer?
In this industry, everything is based on if you believe you're capable of doing a great job. If you don't have confidence in what you do, then you're not ready to produce. I honestly believe this attitude contributed to my success and opened doors for me like working with Steve Harvey.
Can you share a memory you have while working with Steve Harvey?
When I first started working for Steve Harvey, I worked on his Neighborhood Awards. Once I finished that gig, I knew I would need another fast. Boldly, I walked into Steve Harvey's office and told him I want to continue working on his productions. Jokingly, he said get out of my office, but later that day followed up with an official job offer letter. From there, I worked as the director for his Annual Gala, stage manager for his foundation, and researcher for the Steve Harvey talk show. I had the opportunity to mentor girls in the Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation too.
What made you interested in mentoring girls at the Steve Harvey foundation?
Working at the foundation opened my mind and heart to mentor the girls. I've been privileged to leave Chicago and make it in this industry. When I first moved to Los Angeles, I slept in my car until I was able to rent a room. In moments when it gets tough, you have to keep going and I want to remind young girls of that.
What's it like being the Director for the Hollywood Beauty Awards?
The Hollywood Beauty Awards highlights the people behind the scenes who make our favorite celebrities look beautiful. Makeup artists, wardrobe stylists, and hair stylists come to the awards and it's such a beautiful event because so many people come to recognize talent in the beauty industry. As a director with a producer background, I was able to fine-tune the show and stay on time with the run of the show.
What are some changes you've seen recently in the industry that you had to adapt to?
I got a call to work on a Snapchat show and I was shocked. Navigating new media such as streaming platforms, Facebook Watch, and how social media impacts people has been new to me. The key is learning to create quality content, especially when people have shorter attention spans.
Tell me about your cannabis brand, the High Hour.
I create content for my brand the High Hour, which highlights the cannabis industry from an educational perspective. Cannabis is a culture and lifestyle in LA, so we highlight it from a place the media typically doesn't. I recommend the products that are best for people to try like cannabis coffee and pre-workout. Soon, I'm going to pitch my own cannabis show.
What's one piece of advice someone shared with you that you live by and shared with others?
My mentor told me 'you need to have at least three people at every level. Three people where y'all work together and build each other up. Three people on a higher level so you can see that example and they can bring you up too. Then three people below you that you can encourage to level up.' I really try to strive to commit to that.
— Photography by Brian Archie, Styling by Kim Coy of Image of Perfection Designs, Jewelry by The Nerd Creator